Becoming a student rep is a great way to take an active role in the delivery of your course. With over 1,000 volunteers working across the university, I’ve found presenting the thoughts and feelings of me and my peers in a formal capacity to be an incredibly rewarding experience.
What is a Student Rep?
As the name implies, reps are expected to represent students. In particular you will be representing your year. Each department will typically have two reps for each year from first year, up to postgraduate research. These two reps act as mediator for the year in that particular department, collecting thoughts, feedback, and any other relevant data to be brought up at Student Staff Liaison Committee SSLC meetings.
How do you collect this information? There are a variety of ways.I have found useful. Feedback may be as simple as an informal chat with your friends while waiting for a lecture, however, in some circumstances more formal approaches may be appropriate. If this is the case, then surgeries, feedback forums, or focus groups may be necessary, allowing students a formal environment to voice their opinions.
There is no right way to get opinions, and as a rep it is up to you to decide how best to ensure everybody’s voice is being heard. While it might seem like at times there is the pressure to pick the perfect approach, I’ve found though that there is no right way to go about gathering feedback, and sometimes a laid back environment is a great way to find out what are on people’s minds.
Acting on Feedback
So you’ve done your research, and have a list of suggestions and feedback for your department – what now? There are a variety of ways to address these concerns.
In some cases, the points raised are only relevant to specific members of staff. If this is the case it would be inappropriate to bring it up at a departmental meeting, and so an email to (or meeting with) the particular staff member might be the right option.
For wider issues concerning facilities, or the department at large, it is better to address these at meetings. Run twice a semester, all student reps are expected to attend Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLC). These meetings are attended by all representatives for that department, as well as select members of staff, and an administrator.
The meeting has a set agenda, and minutes are kept throughout, so any points raised are committed to writing to be reviewed at a later date. SSLC are therefore a vital point of contact between students and staff, and are the perfect forum for larger topics.
Student reps are crucial in ensuring the university is aware of what their students are thinking. Each representative is expected to do their research, talk to peers, and work hard in making the University of Manchester a better place to study.
For me, the chance to present points and feedback to departmental staff has been a great insight into how the uni runs behind the scenes, as well as a way to ensure that my time spent at Manchester is the best it can be.
By now you should have a good grip on the role of a rep, and why what they do is so important. However, if you feel like you need a bit more information on the topic, then the best place to find it is over at the official ‘Be a Student Rep’ page.