Department Reps

About Reps

Department Reps provide a vital link of communication between students, departments, faculties and the Students’ Union.

What do they do?

  • Pro-actively find out the views, needs, concerns, ideas and opinions of students on their course or scheme of study
  • Represent these issues and give feedback at department meetings
  • Meet with other elected student reps in their faculty and the Students’ Union to share information, get support and develop campaigns
  • Gain skills and experience
  • Improve the academic experience of students at Lancaster University

Why should you get in touch with them?

Your Reps have been chosen by YOU as a great contact within your department. If you’re having problems within your department, or want to shout about its successes, your Rep is a fantastic first point of contact. Every year the Reps secure great wins for students, on things from mentoring systems to coursework turnaround times, but they can only do this with your help and feedback. They need you to get in touch with them, giving them the information needed to get what students want.

How do you contact them?

  • Ask Department Administrators for details
  • Department Noticeboards
  • On-line department or course information
  • Email reps@lancaster.ac.uk – stating your year, scheme of study/department and asking for your reps contact information.

Information for Reps

What are the benefits of being a rep?

Develop interpersonal and transferable skills which increases your employability status

  • Confidence and assertiveness
  • Organisation and time management
  • Resilience
  • Team working
  • Initiative
  • Adds to your CV and Portfolio as evidence of extracurricular responsibility
  • Receive free training, development and support

How do you go about it?

  • Your department will hold elections in the first couple of weeks of term
  • Speak to your department administrator about the nomination and election process
  • Look out for information about elections in lectures, on notice boards or in emails
  • Tell other students on your course that you would like to be their rep and why you think you would be good at it
  • email reps@lancaster.ac.uk

Training

Training is provided every year for newly elected Department Reps. This year the training was offered to reps from week 3 of the first term. 20 separate training sessions have been offered to ensure that reps have plenty of opportunity to attend training. The training is free and is designed to equip reps with skills and knowledge to do their jobs most effectively.

This year the training included:

  • Structures of the University and Students’ Union
  • Conduct in Meetings
  • Negotiation
  • Assertiveness
  • Case studies
  • Networking with other reps
  • Faculty Forums
  • What reps should not deal with and how to signpost issues
  • Who to contact with various issues

All reps are expected to attend training each academic year. If you do not attend rep training your role may not be recorded on your University Transcript.

Who organises it?

The Student’s Union work alongside the departments and faculties to support and coordinate the Student Representative System. We provide training, support, advice and resources to assist the reps to do their jobs. You should register on-line as an official Student Rep for your department. The Union keeps a database of all the reps that register so that we can help put students in touch with their reps.

Email all your rep enquires, questions, feedback and concerns reps@lancaster.ac.uk

Information for Departments

Guidelines for best practice in the Department Rep system were passed at Senate a couple of years ago. Below you can see some of the key elements of best practice document. You can also view the full document if you like.

What should departments do to help elect and train reps?

Departmental Representatives should be elected at the beginning of each academic year ideally by the end of week 3 of the Michaelmas Term to enable timely training.

Representative elections will be promoted jointly by departments and LUSU at the beginning of term via:

  • Lectures
  • LUVLE
  • Departmental Notice Boards and Emails
  • LUSU media/promotion
  • LUSU will provide relevant promotional support materials.

It is suggested in the interests of fairness, students are elected and that all students have the opportunity to stand as a representative.

Usually this would be at a compulsory element where all students of a year group are together.

If posts are contested, candidates should be allowed to say a few words in the relevant lecture and a hand vote be taken.

It is critical to the success of the system that departments, faculties and LUSU accurately know who representatives are.  Post elections, departments will issue registration materials and a welcome pack provided by LUSU and will inform LUSU of representatives’ names, role and contact details.

There will be annual training sessions for departmental representatives offered between weeks 4 and 6 of the Michaelmas Term.  Departments will highlight these opportunities to reps and enable them to attend where possible.

How many reps should there be?

The recommended ratio of departmental reps per year for taught students is:

  • 0-50 students – 1 representative
  • 51-100 students – 2 representatives
  • 101-150 students – 3 representatives
  • 151+ students – 4 representatives

How should departments communicate with their reps?

All reps will be properly informed in advance about relevant departmental meetings so that they can effectively collect the students’ views on issues raised.

Representatives should be offered the opportunity to meet with the Chair of the relevant meeting prior to their first attendance.

Departments should be expected to provide documentation to representatives when requested, such as previous agendas, minutes etc. except any issues relating solely to confidential staff or student matters.

Departments should recommend appropriate members of staff to refer representatives and student issues to.

Departments should help encourage and facilitate informal relationships with student representatives, outside of departmental meetings to allow for greater and timelier feedback.

Facilitate the promotion of their representatives and their contact information via access/space on websites, LUVLE and to student departmental email lists.

What communication should there be between departments and LUSU?

Departments will provide LUSU with up to date information on:

  • representatives’ names and any changes mid-session
  • feedback regarding consistent non-attendance of representatives or other concerns to the VP Education
  • notice of any meetings scheduled to run before training events so interim support could be offered.

LUSU will keep faculties and departments regularly updated as to activities and support provision for representatives.

LUSU will discuss with faculties ways in which to enhance the system on an annual basis.

LUSU will keep faculties informed of any changes likely to impact on their own governance structures in a timely manner.

The key staff contact for the department rep system is currently the Education and Representation Adviser – Su Hall. For general information you can email reps@lancaster.ac.uk.

What do the QAA say?

The QAA have produced a Quality Code to help assist Higher Education Providers. There is a chapter specifically relating to Student Engagement which offer some useful advice linked to the department rep system and as well other forms of engagement. You can view the Student Engagement chapter here.

Lancaster University has led the sector from its inception 50 years ago in its excellent student engagement. This continues today with academic staff and students valuing the opportunities  to work together on departmental Staff-Student consultative committees and ad-hoc working groups to enhance student learning.

The Pro-VC says:

“I am delighted that LUSU are providing a training programme for the departmental reps to support them in the important work they do and would be pleased to hear from academic departments if there are particular aspects that they would like to see covered in the training.

Later in the year we will be launching our Student Nominated Teaching Awards and the National Student Survey. I  hope that  Departmental reps will be able to encourage participation by their student colleagues in both of these.

I look forward to meeting and working with our new Student Representatives”

Professor Amanda Chetwynd

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Colleges and the Student Experience

Tell Us if We Can Improve Things

The Departmental Rep system is dependent upon department and LUSU input.  If you have any comments or suggestions on how the system could be improved, please let us know.