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UAL leads national project to promote student belonging through assessment

A collage of personal and family photos and food shots, some of the pics duplicated
  • Written byCat Cooper
  • Published date 31 March 2021
A collage of personal and family photos and food shots, some of the pics duplicated
Mona Bakht- Talaga. BA Fashion Communication, Central Saint Martins, UAL

The UAL Academic Enhancement team was recently recognised for excellence in collaboration. The team has now won £10k funding from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to lead a collaborative project to enhance equity in student outcomes.

‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ proposes a key role for student belonging in arts’ assessments practices to help address issues of social justice linked to the awarding differentials that exist between white students and students of colour.

UAL will work with The Glasgow School of Art and Leeds Arts University over the next 18 months to look at ways that belonging in the creative higher education (HE) can be enhanced through compassionate assessment. 

The collaboration will develop important insights and resources that will be published openly for the creative education and wider HE sector.

Vikki Hill, Educational Developer: Attainment (Identity and Cultural Experience) Teaching, Learning and Employability Exchange, UAL

"We are delighted to have secured the QAA project bid to develop our partnership with colleagues at Glasgow School of Art and Leeds Arts University. We recognise the importance of creating universities that are caring, compassionate and authentic in both policies and practice. We’re really excited to develop this work and to share across UAL and the higher education sector."

Belonging in the time of COVID

A sense of belonging is considered one of the most important needs of students in their learning. The pandemic has deepened feelings of ‘unbelonging’ among many higher education students as it has exacerbated existing inequalities.

The project will propose new quality indicators that focus on belonging, compassion and equity, in critique of traditional metrics. It will identify approaches to assessment that nurture belonging through meaningful, compassionate interactions and practices.

By its conclusion in November 2022, the project will deliver a number of open-source outcomes that will be shared with the HE sector: A symposium on compassionate assessment; a briefing paper on the project’s activity; a blog documenting the organic development of materials and providing a space for exchange of ideas; and a participatory digital resource.

‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ builds on UAL’s wider work to provide an excellent education for all. The project will also be of interest to UAL’s anti-racism work and strategy.

The project team


Leeds Arts University

Glasgow School of Art

  • Allan Atlee Deputy Director Academic, 
    Glasgow School of Art
  • Professor Vicky Gunn
    Head of Teaching and Learning, Glasgow School of Art

More about the Academic Enhancement team

UAL's Academic Enhancement team creates spaces for open, collaborative discussion to deliver a range of pedagogic initiatives. Team members work with staff and students to co-create positive changes to the curriculum and teaching practice, and support course teams to improve student satisfaction, attainment and continuation.

They publish a range of open-access teaching and learning resources including podcasts, video, zines and downloadable documents.

Interrogating Spaces podcast

The podcasts produced by Liz Bunting, Vikki Hill and Gemma Riggs have informed the development of this project bid. You can listen to them here: