How do Academic Reps and students work together?
Academic Representatives (commonly shortened to Academic Reps) are the vital link between the Student body, and the Student's Union. Without Academic Reps, the Student's Union would not be aware of any problems, issues or examples of good practice across the university.
Academic Reps work hard to aid course development, and to inform those who make the decisions, how your course could be improved.
Academic Representatives will frequently ask for student opinion on various topics. These can be topics that they have a keen interest in, or they could be topics that the Student's Union has asked them to investigate. Reps can use various means of communication to do this, whether it be a simple email, or through using social media or online polls.
Student views can then be taken to the departments Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) where they can be raised with members of staff from your department/school.
Academic Reps will attend Students' Union Academic Council meetings in order to feed back on student views and matters arising from discussions at SSLC.
There are two types of Academic Council meetingl one for undergraduate and postgraduate taught Academic Reps (known as Taught Academic Council), and one for postgraduate research Academic Reps (known as Research Academic Council).
As a rep you are an ambassador not only for your course and year but for the university and Students' Union alike. Students may come to you with a number of different problems and you may not always have the answer. Don't worry! There are staff and departments in place to be able to give students help and advice no matter what their problem is.
There are a few issues that you are NOT expected to deal with and you should refer these students either to the department or the Advice and Representation Centre.
Issues that you will tackle
Teaching resources: Availability of lecture rooms, lecture facilities, room facilities, disabled access etc.
Teaching methods: Do students have the opportunity to experience different learning environments such as small seminar groups as well as lectures? Do lecturers make use of a variety of teaching methods such as board-work, OHP, flipchart, PowerPoint, Video etc, as appropriate? Do the teaching methods used exclude students with specific learning difficulties?
Study resources: Availability of books and other resources in the library, access to workstations, laboratory facilities etc.
Course content and structure: Does the course match the description in the course handbook? Do lectures and seminars focus on the important topics? Have changes been made to the course without warning or consultation? Is the workload distributed reasonably throughout the course? Are the feedback mechanisms clear and appropriate?
Hidden course costs: Have students been given adequate information about the costs of photocopying, attending field trips, laboratory charges etc. Are the charges reasonable?
Access to facilities after hours: Does the University campus provide adequate services to part-time students and students who need to use facilities outside 9am-5pm?
Issues concerning placements: Do students have the appropriate support from the University during the placement?
Communication of issues: Are students aware of what is happening in the University and Students’ Union and are they happy about the way this information is communicated?
Comparisons between schools and/or departments: Sometimes students hear of an area of good practice within another school of study or department and want their Rep to get it introduced in their own school or department.
Issues that you cannot deal with
If a student asked you discuss the following issues, you should refer or signpost them to appropriate sources of help e.g. the Advice and Representation Centre. If you are ever unsure about whether you should be assisting with a certain issue please contact the Academic Representation Team asap (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Individual student performance: It is not a Rep’s role to represent students in relation to their marks. Students who have concerns about their grades should speak in the first instance to their Personal Tutor. If they are unsatisfied with the response, they can be referred to the advice and support team who are based in the Advice and Representation Centre, who will be able to advise on the process of submitting an appeal.
Allegations of harassment or bullying: Students who allege that they have been bullied or harassed should be referred to the advice and support team in the Advice and Representation Centre (level 3, Student Centre).
Complaints: Students who wish to make a formal complaint should be referred to the complaints policy and may wish to seek independent advice from the advice and support team, based in the Advice and Representation Centre (level 3, Student Centre).
Personal Problems: If a student has personal problems you should refer them to their Personal Tutor or the advice and support team in the Advice and Representation Centre as they have expertise in this area.
As an Academic Rep you are also a volunteer and as part of Investors in Volunteers, Bath University Students' Union (Bath SU) ensures that there are procedures to support volunteers. To find out what rights and responsibilities are available as a volunteer, see SU Volunteer Policy.