(NB: There are currently no Student Rep Tshirts available – sorry!)
Why do we have Student Representatives?
An effective and efficient Student Representative system provides the opportunity for good communication between students and staff. It gives the students an opportunity to provide critical commentary on their total student experience. Having student representatives provides a less formal complaints system, an opportunity for any possible problems to be solved quickly and efficiently and a channel through which students’ can praise those staff who have made a positive contribution to their education.
Student representatives can make students feel a sense of ownership about their education and feel that they are having an input into their own studies. It is an interactive approach between students and their tutors, which can be pro-active, innovative and thought provoking. As a student representative you will gain valuable insight into the way the university works and develop negotiating and team building skills; all of which will aid your development as a student and beyond.
What do you do as a Student Representative?
As a student representative, you may find you have to voice opinions about your programme that you may not believe in but another student feels strongly about. You will need to identify students’ needs and issues within your programme and represent these at regular SSL (Student Staff Liaison) meetings with your tutors and at meetings with Student Reps from other years or programmes. Regular participation at these SSL meetings is imperative as it is your only chance to voice the concerns of yourself and your fellow students. Following your SSL meeting, you will be responsible for consulting, involving and reporting back to students on outcomes. You are the vital link between the staff, students and the Students’ Union. It is also important that you promote equal opportunities by recognising that there is a diverse student population all of whom you are to represent.
What happens in SSL meetings?
This is your chance to raise any issues that you feel are relevant to the tutors and to discuss feedback from any previous meetings. Not all meetings will have an agenda; however, make sure that you go prepared to the meeting with all the information that you need to maintain a sense of professionalism.
If you want to put an item on the agenda there will be a deadline before the meeting in order for this to be done. You must contact the programme administrator to find out this deadline and notify them of any items you wish to put on the agenda.
In the meeting you should make notes in order to report back to your fellow students accurately. Do not be afraid to ask questions, this is a very valuable way of contributing and the tutors will not assume that you know everything.
During the meeting you should be assertive. This will allow you to put your point across in a competent manner and will encourage the staff to take you, and the points you are making, seriously. It can be intimidating making your point, especially if you have a complaint but remember that you are there to represent the student body within your programme and it can help to provide staff with information about how their programme can be effectively improved, everyone wants to raise the achievement of the students.
Remember that Student Staff Liaison Meetings are also a time to offer praise and thanks to your tutors. You do not always have to criticise or complain about a programme; tutors also welcome positive feedback in general and it is good practice to offer this where it is deserved.