The Student Room
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|Type of site||Student forum and Student Information Portal|
|Registration||Required to post. Viewable as a guest.|
|Available language(s)||English; also features a dedicated multilingual sub-forum|
|Owner||Acumen Professional Intelligence Ltd.|
The Student Room (TSR), known from 2001 until 2004 as UK Learning, is a United Kingdom-based internet forum for school and university students. The site currently has over 300,000 members and more than nineteen million posts.
The site is primarily designed as a place for UK-based students to find information about studying, courses and careers but also hosts discussion on a wide variety of general topics. Though the site is mostly UK-based, there is significant international element (who have been recognised with their own sub forum).
Another section of the site allows members to a free personal statement checking service for university admissions. Members may post their personal statement in a forum ready for checking. For privacy, only the poster and members of the checking and administration teams (the former consisting of students already at university) may view the statement.
For paying members, there is a hidden section consisting of around two hundred arcade games and competition league tables, as well as a secret sub-forum. There are also several other benefits to subscribing to the service, which include custom User Titles, larger avatars, and the ability to change the colour of the username.
Moderation, staff, and ownership
Although the site is owned by Acumen PI (Acumen Professional Intelligence Ltd), the site is run by a Director, Jamie O'Connell (username "J"). Chris Newson (username "CN") is the majority shareholder of Acumen PI and also a nominal administrator. There is also Pete Taylor (username "P"), the longest serving staff member and new staff member Warren Oates (username "RK"). "Super Moderators" have administrative powers (limited to the forum software). There are many moderators, whose primary function is to moderate the content of the site and contribute to its future direction. Some of these moderators have powers that extend throughout the entire site, but there are also many "minimods", having powers only in designated areas.
Acumen PI also owns a number of other student websites including a number of Coursework Libraries of which the largest is Coursework.Info.
A large part of The Student Room consists of the forum, of which the major sections are:
- General University Chat
- University Applications
- University Courses: most subjects have their own sub forum
- Universities: most universities or university towns have their own sub forums
- General Secondary/Sixth Form Chat
- Academic Help: at any educational level though mostly focused on secondary school and college level; each subject with its own sub forum
- Gap Years
- Debate and Discussion: with politics, religion, Model Parliament, Model United Nations and philosophy sub forums
- Careers: with teaching, armed forces and finance sub forums
- General discussion
- Health and relationships
- Fashion and beauty
- Subscriber-only sections, which include The Back Room and The Arcade
In total the whole site has well over 100 forums and sub forums.
As well as the forum, the site has developed its own wiki: the TSR Wiki. This provides a reference source for prospective and current UK students on matters of institutions, examinations, courses, applying and going to university, student travel, night life, careers and health, and other general topics of interest to students. Two of the largest sections of the wiki provided a wide range of revision notes, covering many subjects from GCSE level through to University level. It also offers dozens of examples of personal statements used to apply to UK universities and colleges.
The forum was created in around 2001 under the name "UK Learning", mainly as a local site for teaching resources. Since then the forum has grown in popularity and developed in to a forum consisting of dozens of sub-forums and thousands of new posts daily. In late 2004 the forum saw a change to its present name of "The Student Room".
Purpose and focus
UK Learning was originally a portal site, the purpose of which was to push traffic towards profit-oriented sites offering various educational resources such as sample coursework, essays and personal statements. The remainder of the site was a vBulletin-based discussion forum, most of the content of which was derived from usenet posts to which users of the forum could respond through the forum rather than via a usenet client, which enabled the site to rapidly build content (and thus search engine driven traffic) while having only a small user base.
Thus, UK Learning/The Student Room has never been a profit-oriented site in itself, though as noted above it does attempt to generate income in the form of optional subscriptions paid by users of the site, Google advertising banners and voluntary donations from users as a means to offset the large running costs of the site. The connection to the aforementioned profit-oriented sites can still be seen on The Student Room but are no longer the focus of the site.
In mid-2002 the portal aspect of the site was dropped in favour of focusing the site around the discussion forum, and the site has remained roughly in this state since.
In early 2006 the company which owns TSR was taken over. This new owner, known as CN, set about adding advertisements to the site in order to generate revenue for the running costs. This angered several users as a fundraising drive had recently been held, placement of the advertisements was widely considered intrusive and detrimental, and some of the advertisements were arguably inappropriate.
In mid-2006 the owner, CN, detailed ideas for the future of The Student Room; as part of this, CN met a small group of the moderators at a meeting in London. Many ideas were put forward and plans discussed, and over the next few months preparatory work took place for The Student Room to undergo a facelift with the addition of many improvements to attract new members,, and on 19 September 2007 the new look website was launched.
In summer 2004 the forum was also the subject of media coverage after examination questions, from papers yet to be sat, were leaked onto the forum. The user claimed the questions were sample exam questions based on the Edexcel Mathematics exam he was sitting the next day, and asked for help from other users.
In May 2007 the site was heavily quoted by the BBC in an article relating to problems faced in an OCR A Level Biology Practical exam after reports to the media from an unnamed member. Some users on the site appeared to have been told far too much about the practical exam by their teachers while others heavily criticised and complained about the difficulty of the exam afterwards. A similar incident was reported in May 2008, again following discussion on OCR Biology A2 practical exams.
Following A Level results day in 2007, the wiki section of the site was mentioned in an article in the independent about preparing for university. It mentioned how TSR has a pretty much exhaustive list of what a student had to take to university with them.
The site was also mentioned on 16 August 2007 in 'crucial contacts' list for higher education on Nottingham Evening Post website.
In August 2008, the site was featured in a half page article in the The Times as part of their students supplement produced for the A Level results day. The article looked at the content of the site, picking out key features such as the university discussion forums and the personal statement help section.
In February 2009, The Student Room and DIUS (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) worked together to produce a resource for people over the age of 21 considering going back to education. The minisite features an interactive map of universities across the country, video interviews with mature students and profiles of members who went to university as a mature student.
- ↑ Forum Homepage
- ↑ International Lounge - The Student Room
- ↑ "'The history of The Student Room". http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/faq.php?faq=tsr_cat#meeting. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
- ↑ "'Plans for the future of TSR". http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=261954. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
- ↑ Harrison, Angela (24 June 2004). "'No re-sits' after exam theft". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3834291.stm. Retrieved 2006-11-11.
- ↑ Eason, Gary (24 May 2007). "Anger over A-level science exam". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6685459.stm. Retrieved 2007-05-26.
- ↑ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7422381.stm
- ↑ Goddard, Louis (13 August 2008). "Dispelling university myths in The Student Room". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/student/article4524070.ece. Retrieved 2008-08-31.