With the latest milestone in Teesside University’s £275 million, Campus Masterplan – the brand new Student Life Centre set to open in the new year – TUXtra sat down with Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark Simpson, to talk #StudentLife 

“It’s really exciting!” exclaimed Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark Simpson, after he had outlined what the the brand new Student Life Centre is set to offer Teesside University Students.

And with understandable justification.

The latest, glass fronted edition, to the University’s Campus Heart, housing 3,000 square fleet of floor space, constructed out of 252 tonnes of steel, sat upon 172 pile foundations and boasting some 62km of cabling – that’s more than the distance between Middlesbrough and Newcastle as the crow flies – already stands as a most beautiful and impressive structure.

But Professor Simpson was keen to point out that this digitally enhanced facility will be “more than just a building.”

He said: “We’ve worked on a concept, whereby we’ve put the students absolutely at the heart of what we do.”

“The idea with Student Life is actually we have all these services within one building.

“So rather than just having a series of doors that you need to go through the right one, there will actually be some individuals who will meet and greet you and will be able to resolve hopefully most of your questions.

“We’re using a lot of technology, so we are creating a knowledge bank so that the people that are at the front line are empowered with a lot of knowledge, that they’ve got technology they will be able to do things like if you’ve lost your password – which I do all of the time! – they will be able to reset your password, if you’ve lost your library card, issue you with a new library card.”

“We’re at the forefront of Ed-Tech”

Looking to dig a little deeper into what else would be on offer, it became clear there is plenty for existing and perspective students to look forward to.

“There’s all sorts within there” Professor Simpson said.

“It’s very much a student owned building, so we want students to feel absolutely at home in Student Life, and that will also enable students to book spaces as well, to be able to work in there.”

Alongside fun things, such as “a big catering offer” featuring a now much trailed pizza oven, traditional student services such as counselling and financial support will also be accessible under the one roof.

And in line with Teesside’s wider Digital Cities ambition, tech is to play a big role in the advancement of #StudentLife.

“We’re at the forefront of that” commented Professor Simpson, pointing to the 42 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEE) experts, including himself, that are part of Teesside University – “far more than any other HE institution in the country” – as just one measure of this.

“We’re really at the forefront of Ed-Tech within Teesside and it’s great to see that this building will continue to add to that journey.”

“We’re going to start to use really new technology in that space and look at how we can create more interactive learning materials, working with students and staff, so real co-creation of learning and look at new technology in that space, and what works and doesn’t.

“I’m very excited about the whole thing.”

Catch the second part of our interview with Professor Mark Simpson here.

TUXtra would like to take this opportunity thank Professor Simpson for taking part in this interview.

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