Bringing learning back to campus through The Festival of Discovery
Over 400 events took place on campus in the University’s inaugural Festival of Discovery. Held over a 2-week period from late May, the event aimed to bring our whole university community closer together to enjoy a range of on-campus and online activities.
“I loved the Festival of Discovery and I think it should be implemented again…such a good idea for taster events.” Student feedback on the day.
It’s been a difficult year for many of our students and colleagues, with far fewer opportunities to see each other face to face, or to take part in club, sports and leisure activities. With COVID-19 restrictions easing in May and all students permitted to return to campus, the University was keen to create opportunities for all students to take part in on campus activities once the examination period was over.
In total over 400 events were laid on across three campuses, offering attendees the opportunity to learn new things, listen to inspirational speakers, increase their employability, listen to live music or try a new sport. Many activities were offered by the Students’ Guild and the Students’ Union in conjunction with societies and sports teams. With such huge variety there was plenty to engage in, and many events were also held online so those who could not attend in person to still to be part of the festival.
This event would not have been possible without the hard work of the Festival of Discovery project team under the direction of sponsors Tom Begbie, Director of College Operations for SSIS, Roo Hayward-Smith from the Strategic Development Unit and Professor Pete Vukusic, Associate Academic Dean for Students.
“We sought from the outset to put together a range of exciting, interesting and useful academic, employability, wellbeing and community-building activities during the Festival of Discovery fortnight,” said Professor Vukusic.
“Through the great generosity of time and resources of academic and professional service colleagues, the Festival successfully made a wide range of these events available to all our students across our Exeter and Penryn campuses.
“Some of our student attendees were able to attend their very first live in-lecture academic activities of the whole year; for other students it was their first opportunity of the year to socialise and interact live with their classmates.”
I arrived on my own not knowing anyone and I left with new friends” – Student feedback.
The Festival team have received lots of feedback from students and colleagues who attended. Many felt the opportunity to come together as a university community was hugely beneficial for them after such a difficult year.
“After all the very significant challenges for staff and students this year, the Festival provided an opportunity for many students and staff to come together and to celebrate belonging to the university and forming a key part of one of our many discipline-based, sporting or social communities,” Professor Vukusic added.
“It was a genuine delight to be involved with the Festival and to work with many of our exceptional and very generous colleagues and students who organised and delivered their most excellent lectures, events and activities.”
Festival organisers and the senior Education team are considering how and when some of the key components of the festival may be incorporated into the university calendar. But whatever happens, the festival has played a key role in reminding the university community of the essential nature of on-campus opportunities for our students and colleagues, and identifying ways we can enhance other events such as Fresher’s Week and the Staff Festival.