How you can support and facilitate the Spirit of Sussex Award for students.
The Spirit of Sussex Award is part-funded and supported by the Office for Students, with the aim to help students feel more engaged with the Sussex community, build a wider network and have somewhere to self-reflect on their personal and professional development.
Students who participate in the award can access our award platform using their University of Sussex login details and begin logging their activities straight away. The award recognises the participation of our students in creating a legacy for their peers, enriching their experience and demonstrating the values of the University.
Students can earn 5 points for attending and participating, 10 points for organising and supporting, and 15 points for leading and representing in events and activities. These points will all accumulate towards a Bronze (25 points), Silver (50 points) and Gold award (75 points).
The Spirit of Sussex Award team sits within the Student Engagement and Enhancement team, a new area of the Student Experience division which works on initiatives and programmes outlined in our Access and Participation Plan. The award recognises the participation of our students in creating a legacy for their peers, enriching their experience and demonstrating the values of the University.
Internal collaboration is an integral part of the Spirit of Sussex Award, to support the ongoing development of the award and to help increase student engagement. Staff members from across the university are welcome to request to work and collaborate with our Student Connectors, to help build the Spirit of Sussex Award community and positively impact the student experience.
There are many ways that staff can get involved and support the Spirit of Sussex Award:
- Join our Operations Group and become an advocate of the award.
- Get involved with the ratification process.
- Feature us at an external event or conference.
- Internal promotion amongst school or professional service communities.
- Signpost students to our Student Hub pages and award platform.
- Invite us to your working groups that focus on extracurricular opportunities and recognition.
Submit your ideas
If you have an idea or proposal, please complete the Spirit of Sussex Award Collaboration form to start working with us.
We have a wide range of resources and promotional assets that staff can use to help support the promotion and increase engagement in the Spirit of Sussex Award.
We are encouraging all staff to include our new digital badges in their event promotion or campaigns to students. These image files can be uploaded to MS Office, Adobe, Canvas and Canva design programme.
Download and use our logo, flyer or poster, or digital badges and presentation templates, from the Spirit of Sussex asset bank.
The Spirit of Sussex Award launched in September 2020. We currently have 1500 current students participating in the scheme and 950 who have successfully achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold award at graduation.
The overall aim is to deliver an engaging award programme that recognises students for their participation in voluntary and extra-curricular activities. The award is an opportunity for students to collect points for activities they participate in, showcasing their skills and achievements while enriching their experience at university. Students are encouraged to self-reflect on their achievements which helps them prepare for future job applications or further study.
The Award is named in the Sussex 2025 Strategy under the ‘Learn to Transform’ and ‘Engage for Change’ pillars.
We have a set Council KPI; a target of 50% student participation in the award by 2025. In addition, we have set the following objectives and intended outcomes of the award:
- Encourage students to engage with student life and the university’s academic community beyond classroom learning.
- Engage and co-create with students from a variety of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds as part of the award and connectors programme. This includes recruiting a team of 8 student connectors to co-create and deliver the Spirit of Sussex Award.
- Foster a sense of connectedness to, and pride in, the University of Sussex.
- Deliver a platform (browser and mobile) for students to log and track their progress through the award.
We analyse and evaluate the impact of our Undergraduate and Postgraduate finalist population, year-on-year, taking into consideration the following demographic of our award participants to ensure diversity, embedding storytelling and legacy building, and striving for over-representation from target groups, in comparison to the wider finalist population.
- Awards and achievements
- The Access Group 2021 Conference, in recognition of our collaboration with our award platform provider and excellent engagement in our inaugural year. We were then further invited to showcase the award at the National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (NAGCAS) conference in Australia.
- In July 2022, we presented our award at the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference hosted at the University of Northumbria. The Spirit of Sussex Award Manager, Graduate Connector, and Student Connector showcased the current engagement and ambitions for co-curricular engagement in our underrepresented target groups.
- Spirit of Sussex in action
Jordi, Drama and Film Studies Student (third year)
"I got involved with FABRIK Sussex as I knew the Society would enable me to get more experience with modelling and working alongside photographers, stylists, creative directors, etc. My main modelling campaign with FABRIK told a story of what it means to be Black and ‘masculine’ led by photographer Pablo Santana. This campaign was the fourth of Pablo’s work to be featured in Italian Vogue, something we are extremely proud of.
I joined the Drama Society because I knew that this would be the best opportunity for me to enhance my acting and performance skills in service to my career goals and ambitions. I made connections with students outside of Drama who were just as interested in technical theatre, producing, and directing. I gained valuable experience through the 2020 production of The Crucible, which was to be performed at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts last March.
I am also the Creative Director of BAME Sussex. Through this role, I taught myself the fundamentals of being a creative director; planning advertising, supervising a creative process, and guiding Communications. It’s been amazing for me to realise my own aesthetic eye and match it with the needs of a new Society. I’ve loved working alongside my other Committee members in building this space and community for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students at Sussex.
My extra-curricular involvements revolve primarily around my career goals. I have made my debut as a Radio Presenter on The Rising, which is Brighton’s first-ever youth-led breakfast show, on Platform B, which is a next-generation radio station in the city. It’s really been an honour to have been one of the three chosen for the job, and it has enabled me to learn more about what’s going on in the city. Other than that, I use my time to teach myself about the acting industry through the National Youth Film Academy, in preparation for my applying to drama school for a Masters in Acting/Performance. I look to use the skills I have enhanced during my time at Sussex to forge my own path in the creative industry and join the trailblazers who are changing the game for other young creatives, particularly those of colour."
Emma, Medical Student (third year)
Emma is a third-year medical student who has already received 105 Spirit of Sussex points for her all her extra-curricular activities.
"I was part of the BrightMed outreach programme age 13-18, and since then I have become a teaching mentor both at BSMS and KMMS (Kent and Medway Medical School). BrightMed aims to develop confidence and interest in healthcare (and university in general) as well as to support students in making a strong application to medical schools throughout the UK.
Through this, I also heard about a student led programme called An Apple a Day (AAAD) for which I am now curriculum lead and a teaching mentor; the aims of AAAD are to promote health equality by empowering young people from lower SES to make healthy decisions.
Last summer I completed a research project on the Changing Epidemiology of Pancreatic Cancer in England, 1985-2017, and I have just started another research project with another student.
I have also been involved in organising and promoting events for various societies including Friends of MSF, the Oncology Haematology and Palliative Care Society and the BSMS Research Society.
I have had part time jobs as a healthcare assistant, in retail and with the university. I started my job as a HCA during Covid and this has been difficult because of reduced training.
Pre-Covid, you would find me at the swimming pool, gym and dancing Salsa and Bachata, but now I am trying weightlifting and am loving it!"
Sasha, BA International Relations (third year)
Sasha recently submitted a Student Blog for RAISE (Researching, Advancing & Inspiring Student Engagement), a worldwide network of staff and students in Higher Education who work or have an interest in the research and promotion of student engagement.
"Prior to my role at the Spirit of Sussex Award, I had little experience of what this term truly meant. The Spirit of Sussex Award (SoSA) is a new scheme launched in September 2020 which encourages student engagement and encourages a sense of community through its student participants. The award is centred around celebrating students’ extra-curricular achievements whilst at university and seeks to bring students together with the key aim of getting to know and enjoy their local community. It does so through encouraging students to take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities, such as part-time work, society membership, volunteering and so much more. Through participating in the award, students can work towards different award levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) and are awarded a certificate at graduation.
Unlike other awards, SoSA is centred around community spirit and moves away from traditional focuses on careers and employability. Students gain recognition for all aspects of their hard work outside of their academic success and can build a portfolio of achievements through the award platform. This means students, including myself, can leave university with a sense of community, extra-curricular accomplishment, and a certificate to demonstrate the multi-faceted ways in which they became involved with their community.
Being a student at university, group projects were no surprise to me. However, they often followed a pattern of some peers doing most the work, whilst others sat back and relaxed. SoSA allowed me to experience the true ways in which co-creation excels, the benefits of collaborating and creating together. Working with professional university staff alongside fellow peers meant I developed essential co-creational skills such as communication, understanding and the ability to work collectively in a team. Co-creation also allows for ideas to come to fruition together and creates a multitude of approaches and solutions, meaning the final product is rich with ideas and creativity.
Collaboration has been central to my role from the start. Whether this be with a society who has raised over £23,000 for Samaritans Emergency Fund or students who run a zero-food waste café, I am consistently working with fellow students to raise awareness and celebrate their extra-curricular achievements. Within my team, staff and students work together on projects such as monthly social media content and strategy, platform enhancement and creating award case studies, all based around engaging fellow students in both SoSA and the Sussex community.
Having started in February 2020, it has been a joy to watch the award flourish from an idea on paper to its first year of Spirit of Sussex Awardees and Graduates. The people I have collaborated with, and the experience I have gained, has been irreplaceable and has truly highlighted how essential students' involvement is in University projects and initiatives. Having a say in the operations, promotion and delivery and being able to put forward the student voice means students are truly invested in the success of the award. The continuous co-creation between staff and students has resulted in an award which has the student voice at its heart."
Sasha is now studying abroad and earning points towards her Spirit of Sussex Award across the globe! We wish Sasha all the best for the future.