Academic representation happens across four levels: course, department, school and university. Academic reps are voluntary positions elected by the student body, and they exist with a specific remit to represent the students within their cohort and give a voice in their educational experience. Individually and across the four levels, these reps achieve a large number of positive changes to students’ education on a regular basis.
Course reps represent the student voice at a course/programme/degree level. There are reps at every single level of study, from year one undergraduate through to postgraduate doctoral students. The groups of students they represent are usually defined by degree pathway or degree name, but there can also be mature student reps, Joint Honour reps and international student reps, to name just a few. The role of course reps is to gather feedback from their peers to make changes to the educational experiences within each programme. The types of changes achieved are really broad and can relate to things such as timetabling, resources, environment, as well as module content and the timing or quality of feedback.
Overseeing the course reps within a department, department reps regularly meet with, and gather feedback from, course reps. They exercise influence at a department level, contributing to Periodic Departmental Reviews, Annual Reviews and acting as a Curriculum Consultant. They are also the Chair of the Staff Student Committee, a regular meeting between department staff and course and department reps, where ideas are discussed and actions taken forward.
Department reps will only chair the Staff Student Committee of their level. This means that if the department rep was an undergraduate, they would only chair the undergraduate Staff Student Committee.
What are all these meetings and roles?
School reps are the highest level of voluntary posts within the academic representation structure. There is one post per School, and they are tasked with ensuring the views of the students are represented at the School Education Committee meetings. They work closely with department reps within their school and meet regularly with the VP Education to report on feedback and take forward actions.
School reps are elected from the undergraduate student body as, following our democracy review last year, there are now Student Collectives for Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students. These collectives are led by convenors who will contribute to the academic representation of these cohorts on a school level and a College level. If you'd like to find out more about Collectives, head to their homepage.
The VP Education is the highest level of academic representation and operates at a university level. Elected in our annual sabbatical elections, the role is outlined in our byelaws as:
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