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Being a member of the Birkbeck community

Birkbeck has an illustrious, unconventional and radical history of which we are very proud.  When you enrol as a student at Birkbeck, or become an employee, you become a member of Birkbeck's uniquely diverse community, a community that has been committed to fostering inclusion, excellence, learning and growth for almost 200 years. We believe that the diversity of the population is our strength and Birkbeck is a place of sanctuary for students and staff from all corners of the world.

Every year, we welcome our members into the Birkbeck community and they in turn bring new knowledge, skills and different perspectives from around the globe that enrich university life. 'Being a member of the Birkbeck community' reflects Birkbeck's ethos - we are all stewards of creating and maintaining this ethos and promoting understanding, inclusivity and equity through our commitment to learning. 'We' means all of us, students, staff and visitors alike.

Guiding principles

Learn actively

Learning is a lifelong process which enables us to reinvent ourselves both personally and professionally. We believe in education and research as positive forces and value new ideas and intellectual debate. We adapt and develop as our community grows and changes. We work together to create a safe space where we can challenge and be challenged and support and be supported to grow and develop.

In practice:

  • We actively listen and try to understand other points of view, even if we disagree with them. We also recognise and say when someone else has made a good point.
  • We are open and transparent and willing to learn from our mistakes.
  • We are responsible for helping to maintain safe and productive learning and research environments, which includes adherence to relevant Birkbeck policies and procedures.
  • We seek constructive feedback, whether positive or negative which we use to make improvements for the benefit of the community.
  • We require everyone engaged in teaching, learning and research, no matter what their level of experience, to act with the highest standards of integrity.

Promote wellbeing

At Birkbeck, we recognise the importance of establishing a positive balance between work, life and study to protect our personal wellness. Everyone experiences difficulties at times, and it is in getting through difficulties, with support, that builds our resilience.

In practice:

  • We use the College, partner and external resources that support our educational and professional goals and wellness.
  • We are kind, patient and supportive to other people in the words we choose and the actions we take.
  • We provide opportunities and resources for members develop strategies for personal wellness and future career decision making. We let someone know if we are experiencing difficulties and are not afraid to ask for help.

Promote sustainability

Sustainability is at the heart of our operations and our projects always consider the triple bottom line of environmental improvement, societal wellbeing and economic viability. Visit the Bloomsbury Greenthing website.

In practice:

  • We purchase our electricity from 100% renewable sources, and we seek to reduce our energy use.
  • We seek to recycle and strive to reduce waste
  • We travel to work and study using public transport, walking or cycling wherever possible.
  • We adopt sustainable purchasing and the use of environmentally sound goods and services.

Strive for equality

We respect and value all members of our community and actively reject racism, discrimination and harassment of all kinds and seek to promote equality. We accept people for who they are. We support freedom of expression and ensuring the right of people to express and research different opinions, outlooks, and philosophies, in a respectful, courteous and professional way. We model the behaviours we expect and make an effort to recognise how our actions and decisions affect the larger community. We stand against racism and inequality in all its forms and are working together to identify and overcome the challenges in creating a truly equal community. We hold ourselves and others accountable for what we say and do in person and online.

In practice:

  • We listen to and encourage others to share their views,
  • We challenge inappropriate behaviour, both in the moment, being mindful of both our own and other people's safety, and later by letting someone know what has happened.
  • We are actively working to decolonise our curriculum.
  • We are working towards the Race Equality Charter.

Our responsibilities

Members of our community are associated with Birkbeck inside and outside of the classroom and College facilities, in person and online; we hope you want to be an ambassador for Birkbeck and its values.

The principles below represent our expectations of how we behave as a community, both as individuals and as an institution. They also inform our approach to taking appropriate action when these expectations are not met.

Managing your learning

  • Staff expect students to:
    • take responsibility for managing your own learning
    • attend induction
    • participate fully in timetabled classes and group learning activities
    • attend meetings with tutors or supervisors
    • turn your camera on in online classes and meetings if possible
    • ensure you spend sufficient time in private study
    • engage with Moodle for your academic content and resources
    • plan appropriately to submit assessments by stated deadlines
    • identify expertise and resources that you need (postgraduate students)
    • engage with the Welcome to Birkbeck Moodle module to help set you up for the year.
  • Students can expect staff to:
    • provide an online programme handbook which details assessment criteria, deadlines and feedback timeframes, contact hours, modes of delivery of the course, examination arrangements and signposts to regulations, academic guidance and support
    • provide access to a personal tutor to help signpost you through your studies
    • assign a supervisor for postgraduate researchers and provide access to relevant College research facilities.
    • provide clear, accessible and easy to navigate information about each of your modules in Moodle.
  • The Students’ Union will:
    • support student participation in quality enhancement activities, including through the election, development and training of course representatives, and supporting employability through volunteering. Visit the Student Voice web pages.

Active engagement

  • Staff expect students to:
    • engage actively with the Birkbeck community
    • reach out when you need help
    • take the opportunity to find out what is on offer - read the weekly Student Bulletin for important student updates
    • identify training, events and seminars of relevance
    • check My Birkbeck for online services.
  • Students can expect staff to:
    • provide access to a range of accessible services, whether online or in person, from library and IT to counselling, finance, study skills, employability and disability support
    • provide regular communications on student matters.
  • The Students’ Union will:
    • provide a range of social clubs, societies and liberation networks to build community, and enhance personal and professional development. Visit the Get Involved web pages.

Query resolution

  • Staff expect students to:
    • co-operate and fully engage with staff, email and system to resolve your queries
    • take responsibility for carrying out any actions identified
    • check the Ask system for answers to common queries
    • let us know if you need extra support
    • check your Birkbeck email for responses to your queries.
  • Students can expect staff to:
    • provide up-to-date information through our Ask system so you can access information quickly and simply in line with our Statement of Service
    • keep you informed with the progress of queries that take longer to resolve
    • circulate the regular Student Bulletin.
  • The Students’ Union will:

Policies and procedures

  • Staff expect students to:
    • read, recognise and adhere to our policies and procedures
    • report incidents promptly
    • share your feedback or report problems by submitting an Ask query, or speak to your course administrator
    • ensure that research is carried out and planned with the highest standards of integrity
    • give the staff member the opportunity to respond to your query, do their job and trust that they have your best interests at heart.
  • Students can expect staff to:
    • take prompt action when our principles, policies and procedures are not adhered to
    • prioritise student wellbeing, while ensuring the dignity of all those involved in any investigations or disciplinary proceedings
    • strive to remove all structural or systemic barriers to equality in the College, in line with our approach to equality and diversity.
  • The Students’ Union will:
    • support active student/community engagement.

Have your voice heard

  • Staff expect students to:
    • support your course representatives and participate in systems which will lead to improvements in the quality of learning and teaching
    • complete student surveys when invited.
  • Students can expect staff to:
    • regularly review our policies, procedures and listen to student views in those reviews
    • provide feedback on the outcomes of student surveys.
  • The Students’ Union will:
    • represent the interests of the wide range of Birkbeck students from an intersectional perspective.