Loughborough University is widely renowned for its community spirit with students often saying attending LU is like joining a family. Internationally recognised for its sporting excellence, striving to achieve personal best is at the heart of the university. In the top ten of every national league table, Loughborough University carries Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and in 2020 won the prestigiousUniversity of the Year Award (Whatuni Student Choice Awards).
The challenge with excellence is always: How can you go further? How can you take this spirit and culture of excellence, and bring it to even more students and make it even more central to university life? The answer is ‘Personal Best’,an ambitious university-wide academic, professional and personal development programme to ensure every Loughborough student graduates on a path to being the best version of themselves.
In 2018, Potential.ly was delighted to be chosen as the technology partner to deliver Loughborough’s Personal Best programme, which includes skills audits, diagnostics, and a range of online resources, activities and logging of achievements that all come together in a powerful Award.
Spearheaded by Professor Rachel Thomson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and the Careers Network team, the Personal Best team wanted a platform for PB that would allow students to develop, recognise and better articulate their own skills and attributes online, at any time. This student friendly tool needed to be able to help measure individual competences on arrival and then take each student on a journey of development that rewarded their individual progress and achievements.
The tool also had to help provide measurable outcomes of greater self-awareness and success, both academically and in their future lives and careers. LU was also looking to a partner that could grow with them with goals to have a PB tool that students could take with them when they graduated.
Lastly but not least, it had to be launched live and integrated seamlessly with the university network and into the MyLboro App within 2 months.
First and foremost, Loughborough University has strong brand values, and it was important the platform felt aligned with the Loughborough experience and values.
The ease at which content and resources can be created and self-managed on the platform meant Loughborough University could leverage all the skills not only across the Careers Network team but also across academic services from Library Services to Disability Support. It could control the images, banners, icons and logos used. Students really feel they are in a Loughborough experience.
Because of this and because of the early success, in year two, the programme of resources was rapidly expanded over a few months to include a breadth of resources tackling vital skills from digital skills to ethical practice and being a good global citizen.
The core of the Personal Best programme includes multiple programmes of competency development and employability support:
Launched at the start of the 2018-19 academic year, the Potentially platform saw over 1,200 students engage with resources within the first 10 days, exceeding expectations!
Usage continued to grow through the year seeing a phenomenal 92% of Part A (1st year) students registered on the PB platform. To date some 9,000 students have already completed the personal best skills survey helping them understand their capabilities and opportunities for development across the 15 Personal Best elements. Loughborough University only expects engagement to increase as students approach deadlines for achieving their Personal Best Award!
The 2020-21 academic year saw an even more vital usage of the Potentially solution as a result of the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on student studies and support. This was especially impactful to those new undergrads who might have missed a good portion of their final year of further education.
Loughborough University set out to create the Ready Set Loughborough Pre-arrival programme as a response. When reviewing how they could roll this out, the PB platform was perfectly placed to power this given the ease of creating the resources and giving access to all incoming students via seamless network sign-in.
Fast roll-out and early testing - allowed the programme to get early information on what to improve, add or what to remove. Potential.ly’s out of the box diagnostics and content creation tools and competency framework development makes this possible on day one.
More data - As of 2021, every incoming student is incentivised to complete the Ready Set Loughborough series of activities, one of which is the Personal Best skills survey. Whilst always popular, embedding it into a pre-arrival or just after has given each student an early look at who they are, their natural strengths and what are their skills gaps across 15 key attributes.
With the personalised feedback report, bridging the gap across their professional and work-ready soft skills begins very early. Compare this to how historically students would leave everything from interview skills or emotional intelligence development and becoming work-ready too late in their degree.
Companies view this work-skills gap as a key issue when hiring graduates. With the Potential.ly platform, student's can see and evidence their personal growth. The Personal Best programme has enabled Loughborough University students to gain an advantage. This scaling-up of impact is allowing the careers teams to focus on those students that really need intervention and additional face to face support or workshops.