Academic Standards and Quality

Student Representative Policy 

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Overview

Student representatives are part of the first and largest tier of the representation system provided by the Studentsí Union and the University of Essex. Student representatives feed-back directly to University staff on academic issues, typically through Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLC), ensuring that the University maintains its commitment to the assurance and enhancement of its education provision and the promotion and protection of student welfare. This policy sets out the Universityís approach, in conjunction with the Studentsí Union, to the management and oversight of the Student Representative system, including the purpose of the Student Representative role, how Representatives are selected and the roles and responsibilities of all key stakeholders.

Roles and Responsibilities

Student Representatives:

  • Accountability:[1]
    • Student Representatives are democratically elected by peers and, as elected representatives, are accountable to them.
  • Consultation:
    • Student Representatives should keep their own views aside and gather collective views (positive and areas to improve), by talking and listening to students, to present to the University which would avoid any assumptions made about the student opinion (and experience).
  • Communication:
    • Student Representatives must close the feedback loop by communicating information back to the student body; letting peers know what action has been taken with their feedback. To use efficient communication channels to contact students, e.g. social media, emails, departmental notice boards etc.
  • Engagement:
    • Student Representatives should act as the links between the wider student body, Studentsí Union, academicstudents taking notes departments, Faculty Convenors and the University. Student Representatives should promote the different student feedback mechanisms. It is important the Student Representatives are engaged with any representation and democracy activities provided by the Studentsí Union.
  • Signposting:
    • Student Representatives might be the first point of contact for students with issues or concerns or general enquires therefore must be aware of general departmental, University and union information to signpost students to appropriate areas (especially when dealing with personal queries).
  • Sustainability:
    • Student Representatives must maintain an effective and sustainable representation system by promoting themselves. Ensure that nominations and elections are widely publicised every year in order to get more students involved in representation, democracy, engagement and impact.

All Student Representatives are required to attend and actively take part in Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs). If they are unable to attend they should notify the chair and send an email update to the secretary of the SSLC.

Academic Departments, Schools and Centres:

  • Action:
    • Encourage action to ensure that during the meeting every task is allocated to a person and a deadline is set, against which the outcome can be measured.
  • Feedback:
    • Demonstrate to the student representatives that their views are taken very seriously and are acted upon.
  • Time:
    • Allow time for student representatives to meet and canvas the wider student body in order to accumulate their views (or feedback to them).
  • Communication:
    • Discuss any issues raised from student feedback within and outside SSLCs and address the issue(s) in the best possible way. Aid student representatives with communication mechanisms to publicise any action and/or decision through:
      • Emails, Departmental websites, Social media or online-forum or newsletters
      • Making announcements before or after lectures
      • Departmental notice boards

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  • Support:
    • The student representatives are coordinated and supported by:
  • Vice President (Education): Full-time student representative with primary responsibility for all of the SUís work on matters relating to education along with providing advice and support to the Post-Graduate Officer and Faculty Convenors.
  • Post-Graduate Officer: Part-time position to ensure that PG studentsí views and requirements are met by working with Vice President (Education).
  • Faculty Convenors: Student Staff members who are the links between the student representatives and VP Education along with being the first point of contact for student representatives.
  • Engagement & Impact Manager: Full-time SU Staff member who is central to the administration of the representation system and providing advice to the student representatives on a range of issues.
  • Training:
    • An induction and training session will be provided by the Studentsí Union normally between weeks 3 and 4[2].
  • Feedback: Provide student representatives with a democratic forum to raise issues and make change.[3]

Partnership between University and the Students' Union

The Student Representative system is built on the key principle of partnership between the University and Studentsí Union. In practice, this partnership is delivered in a number of ways:

  1. The information that the Student Representatives provide through SSLCs (and other platforms) feed into the University and Studentsí Unionís decision-making structures to enable discussion of key issues at higher levels within both bodies.
  2. The Academic Registrar (or nominee) plays a key role in the induction programme for Student Representatives, including a session on University academic and corporate governance.
  3. The University and Studentsí Union have in place additional communication methods to share information with and between Student Representatives.
  4. The relevant University and Studentsí Union bodies ensure that issues are captured effectively to support the regular review of the Student Representative system and this policy.
  5. The Studentsí Union provides student representatives for appropriate committees and working groups.

Selection of Student Representatives

The process for selecting Student Representatives is based on the principles of fairness, openness and transparency through democratic election, as described below:

  1. Students Representativesí nominations and elections are organised by the Studentsí Union;
  2. Student Representatives are elected through an online voting system;
  3. Each department has elected Year Representatives. Larger cohorts may have more than one representative for a year. These Year Reps may be assigned particular courses at the discretion of the Departmental Administrator;
  4. Typically, the nominations should open from the start of the academic year and the representatives must be elected by week 3 and training must follow as soon as possible thereafter;
  5. A partnership should be developed between the Academic Departments/Schools/Centres and Studentsí Union in order to champion representation at this level;
  6. If student representatives are not elected in the first election then departments will oversee the selection process.

Policy Review

The policy is reviewed annually by Senate and/or an appropriate Senate sub-committee to ensure it remains fit for purpose and continues to meet effectively the needs of students, the University and the Students' Union.

 

[1] Training for student representatives from Departments with non-standard arrivals can be organised provided the SU is notified in advance.

[2] Must be part of the University of Essex Studentsí Union constitution.

[3] In the event where a student representative is not completing his/her duties they can be referred to the Studentsí Union for a vote of no confidence.

 

Approved by Senate June 2013

 

 

Page last updated: 29 April 2014