Enhancements and innovations to the Personal Skills Award

The Personal Skills Award (PSA) is an ever evolving programme, developing and enhancing to meet the needs and requirements of the changing student body.

Listening to student feedback, we've implemented various changes and updates whilst striving to continually improve.

Developments of the PSA

Click on the dates below for more information on the individual developments implemented in each year.

 Academic year 2012 - 2013

  • Our pre-enrolment Induction Session was introduced

We now give all undergraduate students the opportuntiy to attend an Induction Session to find out more about the PSA, before committing to enrolling. This allows students to engage with other students and the PSA team and fully understand the programme.

  • Our first Undergraduate Student Induction Ambassador was hired

The PSA team understand the importance of peer to peer engagement and recruited a current PSA Undergraduate student, from the University to facilitate and deliver the PSA Induction Session. Giving students the opportunity to ask questions and learn from others experiences. The PSA team currently hire two students per year to run these Inductions. 

  • PSA Plus sessions were introduced

As part of the programme we now offer a series of optional PSA Plus sessions to provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills within group sessions.

  • More evening sessions 

The PSA programme provides evening sessions to accommodate student needs. Sessions now fit around students timetables and lifestyles.

  • Points claiming process moved online

All PSA students are now able to claim PSA points for their activities via an online form, created specifically for the PSA team.  

Academic year 2013-2014

  •  PSA (Foundation) pilot launches offering the option for students to undertake an online course

By developing online skills courses, the PSA is committed to offering multiple platforms to allow students to digitially develop their skills. 

  • Employability Workshop became the Completion Session decreasing from three individual compulsory workshops to one half day session

The three session Employability Workshops became one session, developing the content and changing the name to make it more relevant and essential for PSA students. 

  • More drop-ins offered

More drop-ins are now offered in autumn and spring term to enable students to meet with a PSA team member to discuss any queries that they have face to face. 

  • Completion form developed and moved online

This is now a more accessible system for students to complete the PSA via an online form rather than submitting paper copies.  

  • January enrolment

The enrolment deadline has changed from December to January to give students additional time during spring term to participate in the PSA. 

  • Employer Supporter provision increased 

The PSA collaborates with employer supporters in multiple sectors and offers more employer led events for students to engage with graduate and work experience reccruiters.  

 Academic year 2014-2015

  • Module enrolment moved online

The enrolment for the PSA (Modular) pathway has moved from paper forms to an online form for students to select their modules for the academic year. 

  • New points process

The points claiming process now includes a new PSA points and activities directory, a new simplier online points declaration form and multiple information resources.

  • The PSA (Foundation) courses launched

Four new online skills courses were launched in September 2014 to pilot the PSA (Foundation). The PSA (Foundation) is due to launch four new courses in September 2015.

  • A total of 118 new activities since 2011

The PSA team currently works with over forty departments within the University, recognising students participating in 242 extra-curricular activities. 

  • Increase in educational resources 

New educational videos and digital information have been developed and are under development to improve the PSA student experience. 

  • Increased student participation - first Digital Projects Week 

A total of eleven PSA students worked with the PSA team in April 2015 to develop digital resources for the PSA Student Participation in the PSA programme will continue in 2015/16. 

  • Review of points criteria

The activities criteria has undertaken a review to make it easier and simpler for the PSA and Activity Providers to verify students participation. This will make it easier for students to gain points. 

 Academic year 2015-2016

  •  Introduced four new online skills courses 

Four new topics were introduced to the suite of online courses on offer.

  • Recognised more activities - music and theatre

The PSA recognised students participation in music ensembles and theatre productions via the Music Department and the Guild of Students. 

  • Updated online information resources

The PSA edited the PSA Canvas courses and introduced a file structure to make finding information easier online. 

  • Reviewed and updated the criteria for Guild of Students activities

Points criteria for activities such as Committee Members were updated and made more transparent for students to claim and verify points 

  • Hired a team of Digital Project Assistants

The PSA worked with a team of four PSA Digital Project Assistants to create educational resources to develop the education aspects of the programme including the online courses. 

 Academic year 2016-2017

  • New opportunities

The PSA recognised student participation in many additional opportunities, including the LGBT mentoring scheme and activities within the College of Arts and Law.

  • Digital interview process

A new digital interview process for students completing the PSA (Advanced) was introduced. The process now offers more flexibility for students as they can choose to either undertake a face to face interview or undertake a digital interview assessment.

  • Points process

The process of claiming PSA points was simplified for those undertaking PSA opportunities. The points for PSA opportunities such as attending skills sessions, completing online modules and undertaking taught modules are now automatically assigned to PSA students on our database.

  • Appointments

The PSA team introduced bookable one to one appointments. These appointments give PSA students the opportunity to speak to a PSA staff member on a one to one basis.

  • Completion process

The compulsory taught element for students completing the award was shortened in length and more information was made available online 

Academic year 2017-2018

  • New opportunities

The PSA recognised student participation in many additional opportunities, including the Birmingham Project, Vice Chancellors Challenge, Virgin LifeStart and participation in the Public Engagement of Nursing Group within the School of Nursing

  • Online resources

Induction sessions were recorded using Panopto, and so PSA students can now refer back to information from the session more easily on Canvas.

  • Points process

The process of claiming PSA points was simplified for those who attended Careers Network employability events – including attendance at careers fairs. These points are now automatically assigned to a student’s PSA record if their attendance is registered on Careers Connect.

Academic year 2018-2019

  • PSA (Advanced)

PSA (Advanced) criteria – we have now removed the requirement to attend two employer workshops in order to complete the PSA (Advanced), following your feedback. We still encourage you to attend, and you still receive five points per employer workshop attended. In addition, we still have our employer supporters delivering bespoke PSA skills sessions especially for you, also worth five points per session. 

  • PSA Employer Supporters

In addition to the bespoke skills sessions our employers offer, they will now also be delivering our PSA (Advanced) interview preparation sessions. The employers lead the PSA (Advanced) interview assessment, giving you an employers’ perspective of what they look for from successful interview candidates.

  • New Opportunities

The PSA now recognise student participation in additional activities, including the Equality & Diversity Student Ambassadors Programme and Public Engagement Research Volunteering. Additional opportunities within Careers Network are now recognised, such as participation in B-Enterprising competitions and also with Enterprising and Virtual internship schemes. Further opportunities have also been added to our list of recognised points within the Law school, the College of Arts and Law, the College of Social Sciences and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Academic year 2019/2020

  • PSA (Advanced)

Following feedback, students will have the opportunity to re-take their PSA (Advanced) interview if they do not pass this element of the award on their first attempt

  • PSA Employer Supporters

There is increased employer support for students as Unilever become the seventh graduate recruiter to partner with the PSA. Employers will be delivering bespoke skill sessions to PSA students and will provide personalised feedback for students following the face-to-face PSA (Advanced) interview assessments

  • New Opportunities

The PSA now recognise student participation in additional activities, including opportunities within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, the Department for Alumni Relations,the College of Arts and Law, Careers Network, the College of Life and Environmental Sciences and more!

  • Enrolment (to be confirmed)

Based on your feedback we will be making it easier for penultimate year students to sign up to the award by giving students in this year group the chance to enrol in Summer Term as well as in Autumn Term. This will give students who are undertaking the award in their final year more time to gain PSA points and for the completion process.


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