Skip to content ↓
The Learning Institute

The Learning Institute

First online foundation degree student conference!

The Learning Institute's suite of foundation degrees are delivered using a blended learning approach, which combines face-to-face and live online delivery, work-based learning and independent study with two student conferences per academic year. 

Last year, our conferences took place in Exeter and Bristol, but this year, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we had to move online and restructure the event for our Level 4 and 5 students.  We asked Kate and Nicolle, two of our student ambassadors, for their views on the event.

Nicolle is in the second year of the FdA Learning and Education.

A year ago, we had our first student conference. To say walking into the lobby of that hotel was terrifying would be a huge understatement. Yet knowing the new level 4 students would not be getting to experience that was quite saddening. The ‘coronacoaster’ had succeeded in disrupting our face to face gathering and it would now be a virtual one. I was sceptical to say the least, not quite knowing how an online conference would capture the feel of a ‘normal’ conference, but it was fantastic!

The workshops I personally attended were really valuable, I came away with a greater understanding of my future prospects than I arrived with. My personal opinion being when face to face gatherings are allowed to continue these should definitely be incorporated.

However, the one thing that really made the conferences special, to me anyway, was the social element and I was expecting this could not be mirrored online. I was wrong. The staff and students pulled together and exhausted the chat window facility to the max! I got to chat to students I knew, students I did not and catch up with some of the teaching staff I had not seen or spoken to since my days as a new student. I don’t think I’ve ever seen messages in the chat window appear and disappear so quickly as streams of new messages appeared!

I think it’s fair to say that everyone who attended gave it their all in combatting the perceived barriers of an online conference and everyone will have come away with more than they arrived with!

Thank you and well done Team TLI!


Kate is in the second year of the FdA Inclusive Education.

Saturday 14th November was the first student conference of the academic year.  The last conference, held back in March, seems a life time ago!  This one, of course, was pretty different to the usual format.  Online, rather than in a hotel conference suite.  Home comforts and zero travel cost is a plus, of course, but I did miss the atmosphere, and seeing students and tutors who I usually only meet virtually.

TLI is set up for online so everything seemed to run smoothly as planned.  Level 4 students had a chance to grill some of us Level 5s about study and student life, and we all signed up for our choice of workshops after a year group session.  

Level 5 students began to think about life after the FDA course, which got everyone talking!  

Overall it was a success, although I have to say my fingers are crossed for a ‘real’ rather than virtual experience next time!