By Isabella Wiles
After what has been a difficult two years for universities across the country due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Hull has adapted to a new way of studying, evidently quite well. Our university has climbed thirty-nine places in The Guardian’s University rankings since 2020 when we were ranked 92 in the UK. Now, in 2022, the University has reached number 53. This achievement is a testament to both the hardworking staff and students. Getting used to online learning was not easy, studying a degree through a computer screen rather than in person was hard to adapt to, not just for the students, but for everyone. It seems, however, that that this new way of learning has only been beneficial for the university’s rankings.
It is not just the University that has risen the ranks this year, with our American Studies department being ranked number one in the UK in 2022,climbing five places from 2021, taking the spot from the University of Birmingham. As an American Studies student myself, I can say that this is an extremely well-deserved accolade for the staff in the department. I have seen first-hand the hard work that is put in to offer students an enjoyable, fulfilling, and challenging degree. In the past two and a half years, I have thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of the American Studies course, with modules following every aspect of American culture, literature, and history. From studying the history of Alexander Hamilton, to Reagan’s Presidency to the famous films of Hollywood. Having the opportunity to study such a wide range of modules is something that interested me in the course right from the beginning.
Not only is the course extremely deserving of this recognition, but the staff too. After being taught by the hard-working and dedicated faculty for the past two years, I have witnessed the work that is put in by the team every day. The staff are friendly and approachable and are willing to help with any struggle or query that their students might have. It is abundantly clear that all of my lecturers have a true passion for what they teach. I spoke to the American Studies programme director Dr Kevin Corstorphine about the course’s recent success in the Guardians University course rankings.
How does it feel to have been ranked No. 1 in the UK?
- It is fantastic. The pandemic made our usual way of working unusually difficult (with new online skills to learn!), and it’s particularly rewarding to have been recognised for managing to keep delivering a great student experience as well as maintaining high standards of academic work. Our students have really risen to the challenge and helped the programme to succeed. We even had students who found their year in the USA cut short by the pandemic, but we and the Global Experience team were in constant contact with them to support them and mitigate the effect on their studies. It is a testament to the hard work of colleagues that despite facing these challenges we have managed to achieve such a great result.
What do you think makes you the best in the UK compared to other American Studies departments across the country?
- I have to say that there are several great American Studies programmes in the UK, and we are looking forward to welcoming many of our academic colleagues to campus when we host the British Association of American Studies (BAAS) conference in April 2022. One thing that does help is that we are one of only a few departments to have a dedicated American Studies team, which really gives us a sense of community. We also include students in everything we do, from module choices to curriculum design, and we take time to ensure our degree programme meets the individual needs of each student.
What will you continue to do to make sure you maintain the same standard of academia in the future?
- We are working with students right now to review what is working well in our programme and what will be valuable in the future, so that we can keep changing with the times and continue to deliver a high-quality American Studies degree. We are also hard at work on our research to make sure that we are at the forefront of the academic discipline, as well as growing our postgraduate programmes, such as leading the new interdisciplinary MA in Incarceration Studies.