The Interview UK
University of Lincoln
Deputy VC for Students

Liz Mossop

For students that have missed out on pivotal social and educational experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, transitioning to a new environment can be a challenge. It’s the job of Higher Education (HE) leaders to reconnect students to their peers in ways that provide opportunities for growth, as well as support.

Liz Mossop, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (VC) for Students at the University of Lincoln, recently sat down with GoodCourse’s Community Engagement Lead Kira Matthews to discuss how she facilitates social engagement on campus, balancing different aspects of the student experience in her diverse remit, as well as the initiatives she is most proud of.

Liz's Journey

Kira: Could you give us an introduction to your current role and institution?

I’m a vet by background, and my academic work is all around veterinary patient safety and veterinary education. I developed a real love for teaching whilst working in veterinary practice, and took an opportunity to do a master’s at Nottingham in education, as well as a PhD. I ended up being hired by Nottingham when they opened a vet school, which was serendipitous!

Now, I’m Deputy Vice-Chancellor (VC) for Students at the University of Lincoln. This covers all aspects of the student experience — from curriculum development to how we look after them pastorally, to digital delivery of education. I also have quite a large remit around equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as well.

Lincoln is a modern university, set up for the city and the region, with a strong civic mission. We have around 17,000 students and a growing international student population. We also have a lovely compact centre campus, as well as two external campuses — one of which is our national centre for food manufacturing.

Kira: What initiatives have you developed at Lincoln that you’re particularly proud of?

Managing the student experience through Covid, and adapting to change quickly is something I’m proud of. We work with our student union really well — it’s very important to have a strong foundation to the relationship with our students that we can fall back on in times of need.

We put on a festival of learning at the end of Covid — and we learned that students across disciplines have so much they can teach other students. We gave some students a stipend to teach core skills from their programmes to other groups of students. Whilst it was a challenging initiative to deliver, our students were amazing and I’m really proud of what they achieved, alongside my brilliant colleagues.

Kira: Student engagement has been a big talking point post-Covid. Many are feeling more isolated and students have to find new ways to socialise. Where are you finding students engaging more and less, and what are you doing to get students involved in the student experience?

Lots has changed — reconnecting the dots has been hard. Students had a very different induction experience at the height of the pandemic. That was a challenge, and students didn’t get to know each other in the usual way. The importance of early bonding sessions during the transition to university can’t be overstated, so we wanted to get back to in-person teaching as soon as possible, which has paid off in spades. The social elements of learning are so important!

For colleagues, the issue is similar — work is very impacted by where you are and who you are able to speak to.

Kira: Another word we hear a lot is belonging — whether in the context of friendship groups of the wider university community. What initiatives have you developed to this end?

In my opinion, the answer is having a constant approach to different issues. What helps one student belong is not what will work for another, and we have to be aware of that. We have all sorts of things we do to help students engage in the classroom, as well as initiatives run by the student union, and other things that cross over into both of these arenas.

The importance of early bonding sessions during the transition to university can’t be overstated, so we wanted to get back to in-person teaching as soon as possible, which has paid off in spades.  

Academic societies are one facet of this I think works really well — they run extracurricular societies that link back to disciplines but aren’t all about study.

For some students with caring responsibilities, or students that are working alongside study, they may not have time to engage with extracurriculars — so you can’t have the mentality that throwing a party on campus will make everyone feel included, it doesn’t work like that.

There are also different motivations for engagement as well, some students are highly motivated by the social side and others are more motivated by gaining useful skills. We try to tick as many boxes as we can.

Kira: Have there been conversations regarding the safety and security of students?

Our online presence means students aren’t all in one place. We are responsible for our students no matter where they are, whether they are online or travelling with a university society. We also have a report and support platform. If the incident is between two students then we ensure we deal with both sides of that, not just one.

We’ve been looking at how we conduct investigations and deal with complaints.  We’ve also changed our Dignity at Work and Study Policy, which is now much more wide-reaching including microaggressions, online bullying, harassment and more.  We’ve done a lot to provide more support, guidance, safety and training on the back of this. The Student Union also offers peer support groups, so there should be something for everyone who reports something.

Contact Kitty Hadaway to hear about how GoodCourse is helping universities.

3 Quickfire Questions

Kira: What would be your top advice for someone coming into HE?

Someone once said to me ‘don’t say no to anything’ — I’m not sure it’s really good advice(!) — but it’s a principle I’ve generally followed. Don’t expect things to happen in a linear fashion, but always seize opportunities that come in front of you.

Kira: Is there a person who you most admire in the university space?

I admire our students the most!

Kira: What’s your favourite book?

The first book I read on clinical education. I hadn’t really clicked that education was an academic subject in and of itself, and it opened up a whole new world to me.

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Kira Matthews
Community Engagement Lead
Kira leads our community outreach team working hand-in-hand with changemakers on both sides of the pond. If you want to join the next series of The Interview, or just learn more about GoodCourse, then get in touch at

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