Information Services

Pair Up in Edinburgh Case Study

Winter Break Activities SharePoint Project Winter 2020/21

In this case study, the SharePoint Solutions Service team share an insight into delivering a solution that required a quick turnaround - given the second COVID-19 UK lockdown over winter 2020/21 - for staff based in Student Systems and Administration who coordinated a programme of activities for students staying in Edinburgh over the winter break.

Students walking a walkway in The Meadows


As semester 1 drew to a close, the University understood a number of students would be staying in Edinburgh over the winter break. Responding to feedback from students and their support networks, a programme of activities was developed to encourage students to keep in contact with others and access available wellbeing support.

In order to combat feelings of isolation among those staying in Edinburgh over the holidays, an initiative called Pair Up in Edinburgh was organised to match up volunteer staff and alumni with current students to meet for an outdoor activity such as a walk, run or cycle in the city.

The Student Systems and Administration team at the University enlisted the help of the SharePoint Solutions Service team to develop a solution for matching volunteers and students as part of the initiative. After gathering requirements, development, testing and launch of the service was completed in four days.

The solution developed consisted of using Microsoft Forms to gather volunteer availability and student requests for bookings. Data was stored in SharePoint, and a SharePoint site was used to present a heat map of optional timeslots on the frontend. On the backend, Power Automate ran to match students and staff for a given activity date and timeslot, ahead of auto-generating a confirmation email sent to participants' University emails. With over 400 volunteers taking part, the Winter Break Activities site was able to offer around 3,000 timeslots for walking, running or cycling together in Edinburgh, resulting in over 250 student matches made.

“The SharePoint Solutions Service was such an easy team to work with. They understood what was required, and were really good listeners. There was a really quick turnaround and fantastic support throughout." 

- Lisa Dawson, Director of Student Systems and Administration. 

The Student Systems and Administration team reported that they were really happy with the clarity of communication, and had great feedback on the support provided. In turn, they provided the SharePoint Solutions Service team with really helpful feedback to be used as part of finetuning the use of Power Automate through SharePoint Online.

While the initial initiative took place over winter 2020/21, the solution provided proved to be successful, and with some additional requirements to be implemented, plans are being developed to potentially carry Pair Up in Edinburgh into semester 2.

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