Why is it important?
Academic Representation – on paper it might not seem like the most sexy or interesting topic, but hopefully this blog will leave such a big impression on you that you’ll be getting hot under the collar at the mere mention of printer credit or lecture recording.
Seriously though, I truly believe Academic Representation to be THE most important thing we do as a union. I hear you saying ‘”Nick, that’s a bold statement, do you have anything to back that up?” Did you know we have over 350 academic reps across every single department at Lancaster University making them the biggest network of student voice on campus? That’s a lot of representation. And I mean, everyone at Lancaster is here to get a degree, it’s the one thing we all have in common (apart from all preferring the old Lancaster University logo) and academic reps ensure that everyone on campus can have a voice, and that voice can change everything from an issue in their department to real institutional change. So yeah, it’s important.
So the main two things academic reps do is bring the opinion of students to their department, and also tell LUSU what things you think we should be focusing on when it comes to education through meetings called faculty forums (headed by fancy academic reps called faculty reps that sit on faculty level meetings).
So what’s changed this year?
So that whole referendum thing happened last year that changed LUSU’s constitution and its democratic structures. But did you know we also changed how our academic representation works? Firstly, Faculty Reps are no longer elected cross campus and are now elected in the first forums of the year. Before, we used to struggle to fill he positions, but since changing how we elect them, we have had 40 people nominate themselves for faculty rep, that’s over 10% of academic reps put themselves forward for the 12 positions on offer, that’s incredible! And it’s actually brought forward candidates who I believe are the most engaged and involved faculty reps we’ve ever had. And we’ve got faculty reps working on projects such as ‘considerate working in the library’ and ‘research into the best ways for academic reps to get feedback’.
The other thing we did was create a specific forum for Research students; this is from feedback from research students last year saying that because their problems are often so different from undergraduate and masters students that that used to feel lost in faculty forums. The first research forum in my opinion went really well and as time goes on it means the union now has a clear route in listening to the Research student voice (something that was long overdue).
How have we listened to you?
So what has been talked about this year? At the first forums of the year we talked about pre-arrival information and whether or not students had felt prepared before they had arrived in Lancaster. We talked about assessment and feedback (quite a hot topic in the university at the moment) and in one of the forum we had a rather unexpected but interesting talk about car parking!
Also a staff member from the E-learning team came in and directly listened to students feedback on Moodle.
We’ve also had student voice team (academic reps armed with whiteboards with questions asking students their opinion on a wide variety of issues.) going out in the cold November chill and getting your feedback on a plethora of things.
So now for the most important thing, what are we going to do about it? So there is a university group on the horizon at the moment ready to speak about assessment and feedback and due to the great conversations we had at faculty forums, we’re ready to bring the student opinion to that meeting and create real change for you.
We asked you about pre-arrival information and what the university didn’t inform you effectively of before you came to Lancaster. We collected all that information and before the end of term we’ll be having talk with the university on how students think their pre-arrival communication can be improved.
From the work done by the student voice team you said the library was too loud in the silent zones and now there’s a joint campaign between LUSU and the library all about using the library correctly and being considerate to the students around you so look out for that!
At Research Forum we talked about working space for research students, supervisor relationships, and inductions, three topics which we be touched upon in the PGR review report due to go to senate in the spring. We’re due to have another consultation about the review soon and all of your opinion will be getting relayed in that consultation.
So that’s a lot of stuff! What next? We have the first meeting of myself and the academic reps on Monday where we will be deciding how to go forward with the feedback from forums and student voice. So still a lot to do before the end of term! So thank you very much for reading, and remember, Education is Sexy!