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Becoming a Student Rep

Being a student rep is an excellent opportunity to contribute to real change in the interests of your student community. Nick tells us more.
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© University of York

Most universities across the UK (and in other countries too) have well-established student academic representation systems, otherwise known as Rep systems.

Student rep systems enable students to get involved in the decision-making and governance of their universities. They are structured systems in which individual (elected or selected) student representatives – Reps – speak and act on behalf of their peers concerning the quality of education and the experiences of students.

Rep systems are usually run by students’ unions (SUs), who will elect and/or select students, provide training and guidance for Reps and provide opportunities for reps to collaborate on and share their experiences of different aspects of educational enhancement work. Universities often have different names for rep roles, but usually students will have the opportunity to represent their cohorts at course, departmental, faculty and institutional level. Your SU will publicise the different rep opportunities available at your university, so keep an eye out for roles that best suit your interests, time commitments and skills.

The most common way of getting involved is by becoming a course rep. As a course rep you will be the first point of contact for students. You will gather feedback from students – e.g. using surveys, social media platforms or discussion groups – to identify concerns, questions and experiences. You will then communicate the student feedback to staff in your department – often at committee meetings or discussion forums – in order to develop solutions and resolve module and programme specific issues. You will then communicate the outcomes to students (this is called ‘closing the feedback loop’) and continue the conversations.

Getting involved as a Rep is a wonderful opportunity to have interesting and meaningful conversations with students and staff. You will learn more about student experiences at your university and get a behind the scenes look at how courses are designed, governed and organised. Student reps play an important role in letting academic staff know what is working well and what changes are needed on modules, programmes and at department and university level.

Becoming a student rep is a fantastic opportunity to be a change-maker and support other students. It can also help you meet students on your course, make friends, and give you a platform to build networks across your department/school, faculty, or even university.

A key benefit of becoming a Rep is the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills, including:

  • Public speaking
  • Working collaboratively with students and staff
  • Problem solving
  • Generating and interpreting student feedback
  • Communicating in diverse ways with different audiences

These skills are highly valued by universities and employers, so go ahead and apply to become a rep!!

Over to you

Does being a student rep sound like something you’d like to do?

  • What key skills would you be able to develop if you became a student rep and how would you do this?
  • Can you think of any potential challenges?
  • How would you overcome these challenges?

We look forward to hearing all about your thoughts on this in the comments below!

© University of York
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