Sussex has launched a new multi-tiered award scheme aimed at enhancing student integration, community, wellbeing and employability, with accolades available upon graduation.
Words By Joshua McLaughlin
What is the Spirit of Sussex Award?
The Spirit of Sussex Award, Sussex’s newest extra-curricular student venture, has been branded as an inclusive initiative aiming to celebrate the efforts and achievements of students outside of the classroom.
Officially launched on 28 September, students can now gain points through completing numerous activities, such as volunteering and part-time work. These points are to be accumulated throughout a student’s time at Sussex and will amalgamate towards participants receiving either a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award at graduation.
Open to all undergraduate, postgraduate and research students at the University of Sussex and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the award encourages students to integrate within the community and campus life at Sussex, make friends and widen their social network, as well as boost their employability through cataloguing their skills and achievements to prospective future employers.
Speaking on the award’s launch and intended benefits, Professor Kelly Coate, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Education and Students at Sussex, says:
“We know that our students are really, really active outside the classroom, doing all kinds of great voluntary work and other kinds of employment. The Spirit of Sussex Award will enable them to accrue points for those activities.
“[Students] will receive a certificate at graduation recognising that award, and the award will go on their transcript.”
The award has also been designed to honour and further promote Sussex’s institutional values of: Kindness, Integrity, Inclusion, Collaboration and Courage. These are the acting foundations of the University’s ‘Sussex 2025’ strategic framework – one that reimagines the pioneering spirit of Sussex’s foundational purpose from the 1960s, but has been repurposed for contemporary times.
“When we were designing the Spirit of Sussex Award, we were very much influenced by our institutional values and wanting to enable our students to show us the ways in which their activities were embodying those values,” Professor Kelly Coate explains.
“If you think about recent times, for example, our students were involved in all sorts of activities to help with the COVID crisis. For instance, helping to make PPE or undertaking various fundraising activities […] we think these really represent the Sussex values and the spirit of Sussex.”
Points are available to be collected from the start date of a student’s course, having the entire length of their programme to complete it. This period includes foundation and placement years, terms and years abroad, in addition to repeat years.
However, points cannot be carried over if students continue their studies at Sussex onto a higher level (masters and doctorates), and the award will be “put on hold” for those who decide to defer a year.
Once a student logs into the online Spirit of Sussex Award web platform – which can be done using their normal Sussex or BSMS log-in details – they can download the app for mobile devices. Available now, this app allows students to log their activities on-the-go, as well as access chat and messaging functions to contact the Spirit of Sussex Award support team.
How do I get points?
The Spirit of Sussex Award is a multi-tiered initiative, with students being able to claim a Bronze, Silver or Gold Aware depending on how many points they acquire during their studies at Sussex.
Bronze is obtainable after receiving 25 points, Silver at 50 points, and Gold is unlockable following the collection of 75 points. Points are to be rewarded based on a student’s level of involvement and participation within a particular activity.
For each activity, students are to receive 5 points for attending or participating, 10 points for organising and supporting, or 15 points if they represent and lead.
To start cataloguing points, students should head over to the Spirit of Sussex Award platform: https://spiritofsussex.careercentre.me/welcome/sussex.
When ‘logging’ activities, students will need to evidence their achievements and participation through uploading relevant information to the website’s “More info” portal. The same activity cannot be logged more than once throughout a student’s degree, however, they can earn more points for the same activity if they participate with a new level of involvement.
Provided by Sussex, examples of activities that award points include:
Sports and recreation: participating and representing Sussex in external and internal sporting events and sessions.
Society membership: being involved within a student committee for a Sussex society, and taking part in or leading society-led activities and events.
Part-time work: any on or off campus part-time work that students may be involved in throughout their studies.
Student representation: volunteering as a course representative, or being elected as a full or part-time Students’ Union Officer.
Culture and creativity: participating in cultural, sustainability or creative activities, such as Brighton Fringe, One World Week and Sussex Go Green Week. This also involves playing in bands and orchestras, as well as directing and engaging in shows and productions.
Training and development: all training and work experience opportunities, including Careers and Employability Centre Leadership Training and Consent Matters online courses.
Enterprise: owning a business or undertaking business challenges, such as Startup Sussex or The Sussex Innovation Centre Social Impact Award.
Ambassadorship, leadership and mentoring: participation in paid or volunteer roles performed as an ambassador for Sussex, like being a Widening Participation Ambassador or Sussex Connect mentor.
Environment and sustainability: eco-friendly activities, such as clothes swaps and attending or organising climate activism events.
Academics: participation in academic or professional collaborations, including co-directing events within the student curriculum or attending research and focus group sessions.
How are these points evaluated?
Once students receive enough points for an award – be it Bronze, Silver or Gold – they can submit their award for approval using the Spirit of Sussex Award platform.
Submissions must be carried out before 30 April during a student’s final academic year at Sussex to be considered for an award in time for graduation.
Awards can only be submitted once, meaning that students cannot reach a lower level award, submit it for review, and continue on to collect points for a higher award later. It has been proposed that if students achieve more points than what they were originally aiming for, they should continue on until they feel they have collected as many points as they possibly can before sending off their achievements for final approval.
Regarding the future potential of the award scheme, Professor Kelly Coate states that: “We are hopeful that students will put the Spirit of Sussex Award on their CV, and that it will be a signal to future employers that the students are really committed and engaged in life outside the classroom.
“It should also open up really interesting conversations with potential employers about the types of skills that students have gained through those activities.”
For more information on the Spirit of Sussex Award, please see the following resources:
Spirit of Sussex Award website: https://spiritofsussex.careercentre.me/welcome/sussex
Promotional/launch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxwwP0JgliI
Spirit of Sussex Award Instagram: @sosasussex