Professor Gabrielle Finn Visits the Middle East Centre

Gabrielle Finn Visits the Centre

Professor Gabrielle Finn, Vice Dean for Teaching, Learning and Students & Professor of Medical Education at the University of Manchester, has paid her first visit to the Middle East Centre after taking up her new role. Professor Finn toured the Middle East Centre and met the team for a briefing on the Centre’s role and history, and then joined a roundtable lunch discussion with staff, students and alumni, and alumni ambassadors. She was spending a day at the Centre enroute to Australia. This was her first visit to a University international centre, although she knows Dubai through personal visits. Her first impressions were very positive.

"I wasn’t sure what to expect and everyone here’s been wonderful, so welcoming and engaging. It’s interesting to see how another country/region translates the Manchester experience and the meeting we had with almost two hours of alumni interaction and feedback was fantastic – you don’t always get that level of engagement with students.”

“I’ve really been struck on the engagement side by the alumni ambassadors here. We have a good alumni network back at base but from the presentation today I see that some have been ambassadors here since 2011 or 2013 and that’s staggering; to be so busy and successful - you hear about their jobs and impressive CVs – and they want to voluntarily give so much back. That was really striking, as well as the commitment to social responsibility and building that link with the community. It’s remarkable - you are not just getting academic content ambassadors and recruitment, they are living the Manchester values and ethos and they are giving back in so many different ways.”

“It was interesting to speak to Randa Bessiso (Middle East Director) at length this morning. We talked about culture and it’s staggering that across the Centre’s 2,300 graduates there are 104 nationalities. People have different styles and different expectations and you can’t be all things to all people. We can try to be as inclusive as possible and that’s why the student voice is so important – the opportunity today to hear from about 30 students/alumni was invaluable. I was able to ask the students and alumni specifically about the experience of group work.”

Professor Finn initially joined the University in 2020 as Vice Dean for Teaching, Learning and Students for the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. It was 15 months before she could access the “amazing campus” and meet her line manager in-person, due to Covid. Three years later she had the opportunity to join the central University team, with more responsibility for the strategic direction of teaching and learning across Manchester’s 44,000 students. 

She has three main areas of responsibility - assessment and feedback; student voice (working with the student union and representatives – she would like to extend this to international centres in a ‘one Manchester’ approach); and access, participation and progression (to evaluate impact of interventions, encourage diversity of people admitted, encourage first generation students, those with low socio-economic status, care givers). Professor Finn’s teaching and research contract means that the other portion of her time is research. She has some active research grants and “a fantastic bunch of PhD students and we are conquering the world of gender discrimination in medical education.”

“We can learn from the Middle East Centre here in terms of the 98% retention rate, which is phenomenal and what was really evident is the personalised student learning journey. Advisors are assigned from day one and students can access materials as soon as they’ve registered. They have alumni buddies and all the masterclasses on offer. You really get that sense of a personalised learning experience and that’s definitely something to take away from here.”

“In terms of the things colleagues and students and alumni here would like us to address – 

they really like the resources like ‘My Learning Essentials’ (“it’s a hidden gem”) and I think we could do better at advertising some of the provision we do have – some of it is sector leading, and world beating.”  

Professor Finn is trying to develop process and policies that provides a one size fits all across the University’s faculties, departments and programmes. One current task she has is to write the entirety of the University’s assessment framework, which is a challenge although she comments that “there’s more in common than you realise – the challenges students and alumni talked about today are not entirely different to what I hear from students in medicine and biology.”

Professor Finn concluded with a comment about the remarkable sense of community in the Middle East Centre: “We talked about branding and the number of students wearing the Manchester bees  – they are really proud to be part of this institution and rightly so, we are lucky to have them.”

Professor Gabrielle Finn

Professor Gabrielle Finn PhD, BSc(Hons), PGCTLHE, PFHEA, FAS, PGDipELM, MRSB, NTF, - 
Vice Dean for Teaching, Learning and Students & Professor of Medical Education at the University of Manchester. National Teaching Fellow. Anatomist. Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Providing strategic leadership and development for teaching across Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. Medical Educationalist with special interest in pedagogy and public engagement.
Founder of Strong publication record in both the quantitative and qualitative paradigms. Associate Editor and peer reviewer for a number of journals.

Research interests include gender, widening access, assessment, selection for medical school entry, identity formation, fitness to practise, professionalism, and anatomy pedagogy. Previously the Founding Director of the Health Professions Education Unit, Hull York Medical School, University of York.

Committed to addressing differential attainment and degree awarding gaps.