BAL's new Community Zone for students and staff opens in the Hugh Aston Building

The BAL faculty students and staff Community Zone opened on Wednesday 8 February on the ground floor of the Hugh Aston Building.

The creation of the space is one of the outcomes from the faculty’s listening exercise during the last academic year. One of the things that came through clearly from the student voices was the idea of a common space with soft furnishings and charging points where BAL students can relax and meet other students and tutors in an informal environment.

Over the next few weeks there will be different events happening in the space. For example, the week beginning 13 February will see the launch of a Belonging and Community @ BAL coffee-table book entitled Footsteps, a collection of advice from students, alumni and tutors. The space will also eventually have a collection of board games, brainteasers, classic books and mini chess sets for use by the BAL students and staff community.

BAL community zone - Main

Chris Goldsmith, the Associate Dean Academic BAL, said: “Making the spaces around our buildings welcoming for students and colleagues is part of our long-term student experience strategy especially as that helps create a greater sense of belonging and community. Our strategic ambition as a faculty is to use research and data driven initiatives to enhance our student experience. Indeed, research supports the fact that having a sense of belonging leads to positive outcomes in terms of attainment and better wellbeing.”

The community zone is just one of the latest initiatives over this past academic year that aimed to further support BAL students and enhance their experiences. More recently these have seen a lot of timetabled reinduction events with free pizzas, extra assessments support sessions, an intra-faculty championship cup and an exciting range of external trips which are still ongoing.

Chris Odindo, BAL Associate Professor Student Experience, noted that: “We constantly and actively seek to hear our students’ voices on what we can do to enhance their experiences. External trips, mental health, academic and assessment support always top what many BAL students feel enhances their experiences.” 


BAL community zone main pic v3

Pictured above left: 
During the launch day, students and staff using the space had chances to win prizes

Pictured above right: 
Wale Idris, Founder, The Rebalance Group

A data-driven proactive approach remains central to BAL’s overall student experience strategy. This approach has most recently seen the faculty working with Library and Learning Services on student usage data of the library spaces and using that data for embedding greater support for students. It has also seen a massive campaign across BAL signposting students to DMU’s wealth of resources on wellbeing and mental health that can be easily accessed via the Student Gateway. All of that has been a hugely concerted effort by BAL’s programme leaders and teams, who have worked tirelessly to support our students with a wide range and variety of activities.

BAL students will also soon be benefitting from a partnership with the Rebalance Group, a collection of city companies and community organisations including schools, community centres and social enterprises working together to understand and provide better support for those within our communities. Its founder Wale Idris is one of our BAL community’s graduates who has gone on to have a hugely successful banking and finance career in the City of London. He is now using his wealth of experience to support young adults to develop skillsets like leadership, resilience and, as he puts it, ‘find their superpowers.’ Through that partnership, BAL students will also have access to exclusive networking events with blue chip companies like JP Morgan and Netflix. Wale also helped with curated content for the new BAL Induction and Future Focus module, co-designed with students and alumni.


Posted on Tuesday 7 February 2023

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