We do this in a number of different ways; through campaigns, empowering student reps, lobbying the University, and representing you on College committees, to name a few. Despite everything going on in the world, this hasn’t changed!
As you can imagine, the University has a comprehensive committee structure that requires student representation on a variety of issues, from the quality of your education to your accommodation experience. We are in the (virtual) room to ensure students' interests are at the heart of the decisions made by the University. In essence, we’ve got your back. However, we know that it isn’t always easy to keep up to speed with everything that we do, so this blog I am going to give you an insight into what goes on behind the scenes!
When I say College committee, you may imagine a secret back room of Founder's where hushed conversations are being had over how to reduce litter in the library or what flowers will be planted by the front gate. This just isn’t true (the hushed conversations at least - I have definitely got lost trying to find a meeting in the maze that is Founder's). As VP Education I attend many College committees with ridiculous abbreviations, a number of which sound like duck noises (QASC and CAQAC), to raise any issues or projects that students want to see, but I also attend to keep the University accountable and ask questions about the work they are doing.
Every committee has an agenda and papers detailing different work that is going on across the University to improve your university experience. There is usually representation from academic staff in every School and often staff with specialist roles, such as members of the Academic Quality and Policy Office (AQPO) who ensure your course abides by the regulations of the University. When we work to launch a project or initiative, we often take a paper detailing the issue and what needs to be done to address it to the relevant committee meeting. For example, when we lobbied to introduce lecture capture we took a paper with your views (taken from one of our surveys) to Academic Board to kick off the conversation and ultimately make change.
Academic Board is the highest education committee, attended by all of the Sabbatical Officers alongside the senior management of the College, Heads of Schools, Heads of Departments, and a number of other specialist roles. This committee is where the academic strategy of the College is decided and where debates around the changes that need to be made occur. It is also a committee where we, as a Students’ Union, provide an official report detailing the current work we are doing.
Personally, attending these committees has provided me with a fascinating insight into how a university works and allowed me to work with a huge range of different people across the College. The committee meetings are a pivotal way to represent you on a range of different issues that you care about. As the current pandemic continues to shape how Higher Education may look in the future, our space in these committees continues to allow us to raise your questions and concerns as well as proactively work to ensure students' voices are being heard in all aspects of your university experience.
If you have any questions and want to get in touch, please email me at email@example.com or drop me a message on social media (@RHSUEducation).
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