Dear colleagues and friends,
I am back with more thrilling blogs. I would like to discuss an important topic regarding academic student involvement. If you do not feel that you have enough opportunities to engage with academic staff and students, you can consider becoming a course representative. Why is that?
When I was just starting my undergraduate programme at Surrey, I heard from a friend about that volunteering opportunity. I was encouraged to apply for the position. I did not have a very clear idea what a course representative meant at that time. However, I decided to follow the advice of my colleague. A few days later I received an email, confirming my place as a course representative, a person who is representing the interests and the views of their cohort. I was very excited as I was able to read more about the position and the existing responsibilities. I had to gather student feedback in respect to the course and attend departmental meetings, discussing the issues that have been raised.
When I became a course rep, I received a full training, provided by the Students’ Union. I just loved being a course rep, so I reapplied two more times and continued my volunteering work. I worked closely with University staff in order to improve the teaching quality and the student satisfaction levels. It was challenging to explain the struggles, through which student were going, to the module leaders. The reason was that sometimes academic staff do not know that an issue is present if students do not go and talk to them. Hence, there would be a note of surprise, which demonstrates the significance of course representatives in these situations. They will be able to talk to their colleagues explaining how problems can be easily resolved usually by contacting the module leaders directly. Thus, the course rep is the bridge between students and academic staff, taking time to understand both the student perspective and the academics’ perspective.
In effect, there was a time, when a huge number of students from my cohort were struggling with a particular module. The subject was quite complex and required devotion and time to study and practice. Nonetheless, students needed more support as it was difficult to study the material on their own. According to students, the lectures were insufficient to support their studies as the material that was presented was not entirely clear to them. I discussed the issue with academic staff and worked in order to resolve it. The results were evident. The subsequent lectures were vere clearly presented and the level of student satisfaction increased. This is an example of the importance of course reps for the successful management of difficult situations.
What are the benefits, why do you need to apply? The most evident benefit is the direct contact that you would have with academics during meetings, hence, easier and quicker access to them. Moreover, if you have experienced an issue, concerning your course, you have the right to present it during the meetings. The academic staff then need to address the problem, reporting back how it has been resolved. This fact is very useful and can have a positive impact on your academic performance and wellbeing. That is because if you feel that people from your department care about you and support you during difficult times, you become more confident and comfortable in the academic arena. Student life is not easy, nevertheless, it is exciting and full of life lessons. By becoming a course representative, you will become more independent and prepared for the future outside of University.
Until next time,