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What is the University of Birmingham’s Personals Skills Award? Here is everything you need to know

A quick and simple overview of the PSA and the exciting opportunities


Worried that your CV is looking a bit bare? Need something to stand out for job applications? Are you just generally looking for some new activities and projects to get involved with? Look no further. This is a PSA for the PSA. Here is a rapid overview of everything you need to know about the Personal Skills Award (PSA) at Birmingham University. We will cover all the essentials, including what it is, why you should do it, how you go about doing it, and some ideas to get you started (with all the relevant links attached for you).

What is it

The Personal Skills Award is the university’s “recognised employability programme for undergraduate students” designed to help students boost their employability. It works like this – during your time at university, you can complete a range of different activities, each of which earns you a certain number of points. Once you complete the activities, you claim the points that each activity is worth on a form and claim your award.

Why should you do it?

There are a host of reasons why the PSA could be a great opportunity for you. Firstly, it can help develop various skills that are great for general life, your future experiences in the workforce and submitting strong applications. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to try new experiences, ones that you wouldn’t typically try, or didn’t know about before. It can help you to become more involved at university and have more experiences to discuss on your CV. It is also supported by a range of employers, including Atos and Birmingham Hippodrome. One of the best things about it is that it is extremely flexible – you can construct your PSA how you like, with whichever activities seem appealing to you.

Who can do it?

Any undergraduate student at the University of Birmingham’s Birmingham campus can complete it, and final-year students are automatically enrolled. You don’t have to complete it in the year that you sign up for it, so if you start early, you will benefit from giving yourself plenty of time to find different opportunities as they open throughout the year, each year. The only deadline is the date of your graduation – so it’s likely that you have a good amount of time to get started.

How to complete it

To get started, you can sign up for the PSA by completing this form.

 

There are three levels of the PSA, which essentially involve gaining a different number of points. It is compulsory to complete the employability essentials module (which is worth 20 PSA points itself) regardless of which level you chose to complete. In addition to this module, here is a breakdown of the different pathways.

There is the PSA (foundation), which involved gaining 60 points. The full PSA requires gaining 150 points, completing a ‘‘catch-up completer session’ and a written or verbal assessment. However, if you find that you are enjoying the programme and don’t feel satisfied with just the full PSA, you can collect over 250 points and earn the advanced award. You can also then go on to submit a video for one of the Student of the Year awards.

Once you have completed the activities for PSA points, you can submit them via the personalised Points Declaration Form, which you will receive as an email link from the PSA team. Every year, there is a date to submit your form to collect your points for the year. This year, the deadline passed on the 26th of January. However, don’t worry if you haven’t collected your points for the year, as you can just add them the next time you complete the form.

As mentioned, the PSA is highly flexible. There are various online skills courses, taught modules, and over 260 campus activities to choose from to earn points. Furthermore, you can claim points for external work and volunteer work outside of university (even things that you have already been doing). You might find that you already have quite a few points to collect before you’ve even signed up. For example, every time careers network worship session that you have already attended accounts for 5 points each. You can find the full list of activities and their points using this canvas link.

To hear about others’ experiences doing the PSA, you can check out some student stories. Furthermore, you could watch some videos about the PSA from individuals who have been awarded the Student of the Year award.