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Make a Difference, Become a Course Rep

Student representation is a core element of your University experience; without the student voice influencing University decisions, many of the decisions made would not be with the students’ best interests at heart – meaning a lot of what the University provided would not be relevant to you.

Overall, the University here at Southampton is very good at engaging the student voice, and there is a great level of respect for the hundreds of volunteers who come forward – but don’t take my word for it – this is what Tig Wallace, English Academic President had to say on Course Representation:

“Course Reps, let’s face it, have been a little overlooked in the past; wrongly so, as their role is an important one. So why is this year different and how do course reps affect you?

This week sees SUSU elect its Course Reps for 2011-2012 online for the first time, which in itself can really empower the student voice and make a huge difference to how student representatives work, and how they are listened to by the University. As we all know, in the past, it was all done by a haphazard raising of hands in lectures theatres; now the candidates get the opportunity to develop a proper manifesto online, accompanied by a photo, which means you, the voting students, get to put faces to the names and actually get a sense of what each candidate would bring to the role.

Already, we have seen students engaging with being a Course Rep, with social media buzzing with nominees advertising the fact that they want to represent you. But what will they do for you and your course?

The Course Reps are the best placed people to really get a sense of what students think: whether chatting to people after a lecture, or asking questions to their peers in seminars, they’re privy to the most raw and important information. The Course Reps’ role is then to turn that feedback into something productive, and there are many ways this can happen. The Course Reps have an Academic President, the student ‘leader’ of their course, who they meet with every few weeks and discuss any issues that have been brought up by students. The feedback is then taken to the SSLC (student staff liaison committee) where the President and any Course Reps attending, work out with the academic staff how to resolve any issues, and discuss how things could be improved. In this way the Course Reps are truly representative of your student voice: making a real difference purely based on your student experience.

This is an amazingly interesting year to be involved in shaping your course – not only is 2012 just round the corner, with all the changes that it will bring, but it is also the year that the University of Southampton is having an Institutional Review conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency.

The QAA reviews Universities every 5 years or so, to check on the quality of education and student experience they are providing for their students. As students, you will be called upon to give your opinion on how you feel the University is doing. The University will be particularly looking for Course Reps’ feedback to find out what can be improved for next year, so any information you can pass on to them will be incredibly important.

So if you do one thing this week, help to promote our student voice and go to www.coursereps.soton.ac.uk to cast your vote to elect the people who will be the voice of your subject this year. Looking through the manifestos, there are lots of people with fascinating ideas and plenty to say, so make sure you know who you want representing your course! You can cast your vote online until Friday 28th October. Good luck to all the candidates!

Tig, English Academic President”

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