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StAR - Student Academic Representation Make a huge difference for all your uni mates!... an impressive addition to your CV - a unique experience only possible at University a chance to start leading students - a great feeling speaking up for others - self satisfaction helping others - learning through the experience - making things better for future students


1 Dear Student Academic Representative,

Welcome to your new position as a University of Winchester StAR...

The University has a strong commitment to enhance the experience of all its students and to promote mechanisms through which that experience can be evaluated and reflected upon. We pride ourselves on being student centred, not just when required to be, but in our day-to-day operation. In this respect, student representation is vital to the smooth running of the University. Our reps, or StARs, are key individuals who are in a position to voice the powerful collective opinion of their student groups and to play an active part in ensuring that we live up to student expectations. Being a StAR is not necessarily easy – and it is not likely to bring you ‘fame and fortune’. It requires a certain level of commitment, both to those around you on your programme of study and to the University as a whole. Yet at the same time the role can be tremendously rewarding and can get you involved in the ‘inside story’ of the University to a far greater extent than would otherwise be the case. Please look out for regular updates from us in ‘“What’s On Winchester”, via E-mail, and through the University’s Learning Network. We’d like to keep in touch - and we’d like you to keep in touch with us! Remember, many people who now hold positions of responsibility (and power) in public life started making their presence felt whilst at University. You are members of one of the newest Universities in the UK - let’s try together to ensure that it also remains one of the happiest, and best, for all its students. If you should ever need to contact us, please feel free so to do –

Professor Liz Stuart Pro-Vice Chancellor - Academic

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

Seb Miell Student Union President

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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Contents… Pages: About Winchester Student Union and why we’re involved…

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1 Introduction

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2 Support and resources

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3 What to do now? 4 Making yourself Known 5 How to get student views 5 Training & forums 6 Things to do and things not to do

6-7 8 9-10 11-12 13

8 Frequently asked questions

14-16

9 Tips for greatest success

17-19

10 Quick glossary of academic terms

20-21

11 Useful contacts

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12 Further information

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A larger print version of this booklet can be made available on request Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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About Winchester Student Union and why we’re Involved Your Union is the main representative body for students at the University and to the external community. Your Student Union is run for and by the student population of The University of Winchester. The officers and representatives that you elect make the important decisions and lead us with strategic development for all the services we provide. But it doesn’t stop there – Student Union officers and council representatives represent Winchester’s students at the highest levels at The University; for academic provision that means in practice that they attend and input to the University’s committee called ‘Senate’ (formerly known as Academic Board). We think course reps (StAR’s) are a hugely important link in this process as we need your input to fully representative you and your student groups. We can keep an eye on how things are going University-wide – and that’s done best if you keep in touch; if a problem affects more than just your course we’d like to know: we may be able to make requests or suggestions to the University to sort out any issues that arise. Your SU aims to… •

Provide an official channel of communication between the Student Body and the Board of Governors, the University’s Senior Management Team, the Academic Staff, the Faculty Support Staff, and Student Support Staff.

Represent the students of the University on a local, national, and international level.

Discuss, comment on, and act upon current issues which are of interest or importance to students.

We make efforts to work continuously with the University to make sure the system for Student Academic Representation not only works in the best way, but improves all the time. Being a course rep is your chance to make a huge difference to you and your coursemates. Course Reps are also student leaders but we believe that we can make you even more effective by supporting you in your role. Please keep in touch… The Executive Officers and Union Council Representation & Participation Co-ordinator Winchester Student Union To see up to date contacts and details please visit our website Contact E-mail: SUstar@winchester.ac.uk

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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1) Introduction Welcome to our guide. It is designed to help you find your feet and to be relevant to all reps - no matter what year of study or faculty you are from or what programme, group, or module(s) you represent. We want all reps to be as effective as possible and to enjoy their role (it means extra contact with the tutors, plus the SU can sometimes issue freebies to reps)! The Student Union is here to support you throughout your time as a rep. The basics? We would like to ask you to do the following… These count towards certification and rewards for you All meetings are set and advertised in advance ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. Attend termly programme/subject committee meetings or a cohort reps meetings organised by the University (or faculty level meetings if applicable). 2. Attend a training session provided by the Student Union. 3. Attend a Student Union General Meeting (UGM or AGM) during the year. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------We would also like to invite StAR’s to attend meetings of Winchester Student Union’s Union Council during the year. This is your chance to input to policy and major decisions and yours can be a powerful voice! (To attend you must let us know in advance as we will need to plan a suitable venue depending on how many course reps are coming!!).

Remember though that reps can speak up for students at any time – not just at meetings!

Course Reps can be student leaders While it might not always be glamorous, central to the University experience should be a course of study that offers the best possible experience. Course reps can be example leaders that stand out and shine, with extra voluntary efforts recognised. Training is provided so all you need to have in the first place to be interested in helping your course run well. It does not matter what your previous background or experience may be. There are many benefits in being a rep You’re invited to speak at important meetings so staff and students can work together to continuously develop and enhance academic courses. It’s a real chance to be at the cutting edge of happenings and changes, to get involved with decisions and to get ‘in the know’! Remember that once elected by students, reps are reps throughout the academic year and you can use the University’s open communication channels at any time to raise issues with relevant staff. Being a rep at Winchester is done best simply through a bit of dedication to helping out fellow students. Don’t stress… the basics do not involve any great time commitment. It’s a voluntary role but reps that are reliable help students and their course now and in the future. We have some basic requests of you, and then we’ll be happy to confirm your valued services with a useful certificate/reference sheet for your file(s).

2) Support and resources for reps Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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We believe that you should never feel unsupported, so Winchester Student Union offers guidance to all reps. • We want all reps to be well informed and knowledgable • We want all reps to be as effective as possible • We want all reps to be happy! We would like to give you our experience and expertise in supporting and providing student representation so you can build and use these skills to work on behalf of the student community. We strongly recommend that all reps attend at least one of our scheduled training sessions or reviews/forums which run throughout the year (see page 12) - and look out for adverts on the Portal, Learning Network, and website. Reps are also welcome to visit us at any time for advice, for guidance, for information, or just for a chat. We are always keen to help if we can with any space or resources that could help reps - for example our meeting room can be booked. If you’d like to arrange a reps meet-up or if you have a networking idea for communications, we may be able to help with promoting it. If you need help in asking for changes or researching academic related issues then do ask. Give us your suggestions or requests.

A website resource area is available for you that we hope may be useful: See www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/star Remember - the Student Union represents all students so please keep in touch – and if you are based afar you can join the Facebook group for Winchester Student Reps as well as the Learning Network Group ‘Student Academic Representation (StAR)’ – you could even follow our new updates on Twitter at http://twitter.com !

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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3) What to do now? If you’re an elected rep you will become part of a University committee – most often this will mean you will need to attend meetings of a Programme (or subject) Committee. The meetings are infrequent so this is not an onerous task – however, they are important! As a StAR you could be doing many things, and although the core responsibilities will not take up much of your time, your role as a rep is important. It is vital to understand that it runs throughout the academic year (and many reps volunteer to continue again the following year). Reps should not consider themselves reps only when going to a University meeting… remember: you can voice student opinions at any time. The University and the Student Union are grateful for the efforts put in by reps and are happy to issue a written confirmation at the end of time in the role as long as the basics have been carried out fine. This may be useful for your files. Reps responsibilities: Who do you answer to?... Students!!! The answer is simple - as a rep we would advise that you listen to the University and politely take guidance from them, however – as a rep you answer to fellow students! You should be answerable to your electorate. Do they even know it?... Perhaps? Perhaps not? It will benefit us all if we work together to let them know what it is that you do for them and how important it is! Your student group should be holding you to account and making sure you are representing them… one good reason for us to promote the importance of the StAR system and in students keeping in contact with reps - is that we don’t want students to appoint reps who don’t do anything! What to do… Don’t panic! You will not need to do all these things all of the time!!! ⇒ You should speak to your fellow students to identify the majority viewpoint of those you represent. You could speak directly (in class is ideal - but only if it is practical), or perhaps use E-mail or an online system like the Portal messages or Learning Network. Perhaps even the passing around of a sheet at the end of a seminar to receive written comments is sufficient. ⇒ The view you are seeking is the majority view on the biggest (most important) issues and happenings affecting the academic subject, your module(s), or the programme that you represent… try to ascertain how the group feel things are running - their views and any problems and any praise. ⇒ You will need to attend meetings held regularly with faculty staff and lecturers. However these are fairly infrequent (see the FAQ’s section for more details). ⇒ You should liaise with your fellow students to feedback outcomes on issues and relevant decisions and updates. (You may have help here - as the University should create and issue minutes for all of these meetings, though this can sometimes take some time). Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒

7 You are encouraged to attend training sessions and forums for reps arranged by the Student Union. You may raise issues with the members of the SU Executive Committee, who sit on all major decision making boards and committees within the University. To keep in contact with the Academic Affairs Officer & RPC (Reps Co-ordinator & other Student Union representatives. The meetings open to reps are important: you should attend these - or inform the University in advance if you cannot. If you do have to give apologies for a meeting it is usually okay for someone else to go in your place: in fact we encourage this along with the University as we all benefit please do go ahead and help find a suitable stand-in.

More Useful Advice: Academic reps should focus on academic issues only... Issues related to such areas as general parking on campus for example are dealt with by separate committees at the University and they shouldn’t be covered by your StAR role. The SU’s officers, however, are keen to hear from you and others if you have concerns or suggestions for those – as they may be able to take them forward. The StAR system’s strength (and the strength of reps) comes from the power of many!!! Remember: you represent a group of students - not just yourself! The means that reps should never fear reporting bad news/disapproval by students - if that’s what’s required. Constructive criticism is often what moves things forward. Finally: reps should never feel overly-pressured by your student group… if you are lobbied to say things you don’t want - or are put in an uncomfortable position please let us or your tutor(s) know!

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


4) Making yourself known to your fellow students

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Making the people on your course aware of who you are and what you do could be the most important part of your job. We want to help you do this effectively. We start each year by promoting student academic representation by speaking at welcome meetings. We want to big it up so that sufficiently keen volunteers come forward and we want to reduce the chance of students missing out on knowing all about the importance of it. We don’t want any student groups without a rep, and we don’t want any student to be unaware that they have a rep. We certainly want to help all reps to communicate with your coursemates and the University. Tips: •

Ask your tutors if you can stand up at the start or finish of a lecture/seminar to introduce yourself (or ask if they can introduce you). Your tutors may introduce you automatically, which is great, or give you a slot. Student representation is important: you have a perfect right to ask for it. Lecturers should be keen to help you whenever practical.

ƒ

Hand around some comments sheets for coursemates to add their opinions and feedback and explain the importance of the meetings you attend. (There is an example available on our website).

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Send an E-mail (or Portal) introductory message to your group to introduce your role. It could also mention upcoming meetings that you are required to go to. Say that you will be speaking up for them. They wouldn’t want you speaking for yourself.

E-mail your student group: •

A new option exists where you can send to an E-mail group as follows: “LN Group: [YOUR MODULE OR SUBJECT]”. This means a message can be sent to all students on your course. It’s a great option that could help you communicate effectively with all of your year group. Please note that it might only work with the proper Outlook program (all University PC’s have this installed).* Click “Outlook” or use Start > All Programmes to open the program, or use [Start >All Programs].

* Logging on and clicking ‘Email web access’ through the University (My Portal) web-interface may not enable searching the email groups, so unless you know the exact LN Group name that may not work. (Ask the SU’s representation co-ordinator if you need assistance).

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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5) How to get student views Feedback, comments, and INPUT are what’s needed It could be easy… it could difficult. There could be too much or too little! An example form is available on our website that can be used to collect student comments on issues to be discussed at a meeting. Coursemates not talking? Are they interested? Getting a rounded majority view and enough quality responses from your fellow students can be frustrating, but they should be interested in how their own course is run! If they don’t give you their views they are leaving reps to speak for themselves, which is sad: it means less power for students. If you find difficulty – maybe in either getting opinions at all, or dealing with a barrage of opinion about matters you don’t feel are relevant – do the following… Prompt students if necessary: there’s even a form available for just that on our website - for collecting student opinions on issues – ask us to print it if you want – or any other representation related things. Try to ask your group these things: • • • •

Do you want me to speak for you – on your behalf? - or do you want me to simply speak for myself!? Do you have an opinion? Do you want things to be made better/tweaked/improved? Do you want to moan without moaning to the right people at the right time in the right place?

Sometimes a bit of prompting is all that is required… just one or two leading questions or suggestions could get the responses you want to hear. Ask yourself: do you have you enough responses to be fully representative of the student group? Download our example form here: www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/star or here: www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/toolkit - or ask us to print it.

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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More tips: ƒ

Try to talk to fellow students at the end of lectures on a more informal basis - this will allow those who may not feel comfortable in a big group to raise any issues or problems.

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Use resources provided by the SU. Ask us if you think you’d benefit from more – maybe we can arrange them.

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Check notice boards for information about and from reps. Request space for reps updates and info. if you can and ensure meeting minutes are available for students via web, email, or noticeboards.

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Check reps’ listings provided for your subject area by University or the SU. Are you on the lists?

If you find a better way to achieve these things, then please let us know so we can pass on your tips on to others.

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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6) Training and Forums Term 1 training dates: Monday 1st November The Vault Main Bar area, Winchester Student Union 10am-11.30am and again at: 1.30-3pm What’s it about – What to do - How to do it best – How to be most effective - How it really works - How you fit into things; they’re all covered by our…

Tuesday 2nd November The Vault Main Bar area, Winchester Student Union 10am-11.30am and again at: 1.30-3pm

‘How to be an Effective Student Representative’ We offer training for all reps - to help prepare you and build skills and confidence, as well as forums where you can let us know any issues and meet other reps from across the University.

What we cover: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

How to gather student input How to feed back to students Communication Promoting yourself Working with staff University scrutiny from agencies (QAA etc) The big picture of University structure and committees Working with students and student groups Confidence and Style Negotiation skills and techniques Communication and negotiation techniques Rules and protocols Knowing Your Limits Rewards & Benefits for Reps Overcoming difficulties How to survive meetings

Sessions are advertised on the Portal, website, posters, social networks, and by Email – Please look out for updates.

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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Forums for Reps

Meet others across the University, share ideas, inform us of issues and your suggestions. We want as many reps as possible to come to our forums where you can share any concerns and ideas. We advertise these widely. If you cannot make them you are welcome to contact us or send suggestions or requests to E-mail: SUstar@winchester.ac.uk Coming to one of our forums is the best way to advise Student Union Officers of any major concerns and you can also hear any important updates from us. These can be especially useful to identify serious issues and plan how to combat difficulties. SU Officers may be able to take issues further and get problems resolved - especially if they effect more than one subject or if they extend above course level, affecting many students. We now have regular Student Union ‘Faculty Forum’ to provide a proper link between course reps, faculty reps, and your Union’s Officers.

Faculty and Research Representation Remember that you also have Faculty Representatives that you can talk to: see our StAR website for reps lists at www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/star. How can these people help? Well, some may be elected reps from your SU and some may be volunteers or be selected from the pool of course reps just like you: you all give voluntary efforts to speak up for students by attending committees at the University. At faculty level these are usually Faculty Quality Committees and Faculty Learning & Teaching Committees. These offer a real insight into University decision making and opportunity for students through their reps to work with staff to both plan for the future and oversee the quality of courses. It can be a unique and interesting experience for reps and we welcome those who may be able to volunteer for these positions. The experience is really great for the CV, especially as good reps may be allowed to stay in place spanning academic years. Research Student Representatives attend Research Degrees Committee as well as the Research and Knowledge Transfer Ethics Committees. Some of these reps may also teach at Winchester or elsewhere! There’s a diagram of the University committee structure available on our website and the Learning Network group for reps. Come and tell us about your experiences and tell us what you want. Please keep in touch so we can deliver you the best.

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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7) Things to do and things not to do Please Do:

Be Polite – Be Considerate – Listen – Be Awake!!

Report issues confidentially… When raising issues of concern please avoid using any individual staff and student names. This is particularly important at meetings, where it can be both inappropriate and also cause potential difficulties.

Raise group rather than individual issues… The most powerful input and feedback from students will come only if we’re confident that lots of students (hopefully the majority) agree something, rather than just you.

Speak to staff involved first… if you or other students have an issue with lecturer(s) then you should contact them directly to try to sort things out first. Ask for reasons or justification for something and/or changes if needed. It is the most effective, the quickest, and the best way to get a response and get things sorted out. All staff can be contacted by email if you can’t find them easily at an ideal time and most difficulties can be resolved with good direct dialogue. If a complaint or issue remains after you have tried to resolve it and you’re not happy then you can contact the Head of Department/Associate Dean in your faculty if necessary. If you need advice or support with a complaint then see your SU Officers. Ask for assistance… If you find something is just too difficult to bring up you may be able to ask a lecturer if they might be willing to forward it for you; they may be able to do confidentially using tactful wording – especially if it something forwarded by many students. Some subjects may already offer this as an automatic option for reps ahead of each committee meeting.

Let the University know if you really can’t go – and find a stand in… If you really cannot make a meeting then you must let us know. If you or we can find a stand-in to fill your place is usually wholeheartedly welcomed by the University (again we should let the University know).

Know your limits… Know where the role of a student rep ends and where University professional services like Student Services begin: You are not elected by students to counsel them or to support or advise students having difficulty with their work or exams, with their home life, their housing, or their finances. Remember that the University’s services for this type of advice and support are there for any students to use at any time. Simply pointing people in the right direction may be all that you can do and all that’s needed.

Please Don’t: Speak about individuals in meetings Even if it might become pretty obvious that ‘a’ member of staff is involved when discussing or raising issues about a specific module or seminar/day trip, assignment, or similar – please do not refer to persons intentionally – especially if things may come across negatively. Speak ill of reps, staff, or other students or anyone external to the University. Don’t humiliate, be discourteous to, swear at, shout at, or slag-off… anyone!

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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8) Frequently Asked Questions… You may have a million and one questions – hopefully this section will help... Q.

Am I a rep or not? Am I a StAR?

What type of rep am I?

A.

It is students that should decide who will represent them and the University should arrange for this to happen. If you are not sure whether you have been elected as a rep, please check with us or with the academic department.

All student representatives (courses, programmes, modules, or cohort groups) are StAR’s (Student Academic Representatives)! And all are equally valued. Q.

How many reps should my course have?

A.

The Guidelines for Student Academic Representation that we developed with the University (see the end of this booklet) say there should be at least two reps per year group level (cohort) for every academic programme.

Q.

What sort of issues will students want me to raise?

A.

Students may ask you to speak up about many things. Here’s some of the most common issues that can arise affecting courses… lecture room space and facilities issues, turnaround times and return dates for assignments, issues with written assignment feedback/comments, reading lists details, module choice concerns, guidance info on things like referencing, cancellations/changes or conflicting lectures, limited resources issues – ie. with space, availability of relevant books. Important: The choice in the canteen and car parking problems are not academic related areas, so not meant for course reps to address (you can contact your Student Union Officers if there are concerns).

Q.

I’ve just been asked a question that I don’t know the answer to, what now?

A.

If you’re ever in doubt or don’t feel that you’re equipped to answer a question, simply tell the students that you need to ask somebody else who is more qualified and that you will get back to them asap. If asked a question at a meeting, if possible try not to sit in silence - just answer as best you can!

Q.

Where can I find more information?

A.

Along with regular posts on the Portal and in the Winchester What’s On you’ll find a dedicated StAR section on the Student Union’s website with lots of resources and information available: everything from a list of StARs, to training dates, to important information you may need for your meetings. We can even set up an online discussion forum if you wish.

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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Q.

I’ve done a lot of hard work. What do I get in return?

A.

Once you’ve completed a year of being an academic rep. then quite rightly you’re due some recognition. If you’ve put in some effort then we think you are entitled to a written reference or certificate from the Student Union or University. Make sure you request this is we don’t automatically send you one.

The meetings reps should attend: (Programme/Subject Committee Meetings and Cohort Reps Meetings) “Discussions during meetings can be boring, but try to keep interested… they are important!” Feel free to contact your SU’s Representation Co-ordinator or Academic Affairs Officer before or after meetings so we can give you advice and hear how they run!

Q.

When do I have to go to meetings?

A.

The time you need to set by for meetings is minimal: every academic programme should hold a committee meeting at least once per term. These are sometimes held jointly with other courses of a subject area. Cohort reps’ meetings may also be held to forward issues and hear updates more regularly (note: these do not replace the above meetings - at least one rep for each year group should also go to those!). They are important though! Meetings are usually always held during term time. We want to make sure reps attend each one. Many are held on Wednesday afternoons to avoid clashing with lectures.

Q.

What are committee meetings like?

A.

They can vary in style. They may be large or small depending on whether they are for a small or large course. Sometimes refreshments may even be provided!! But they should not be a brief meet-up in the SCR with no notice: they are important! At a meeting you should find a good number of department staff including the programme leader (usually the chair), tutors, and administrator. Here are some more usual things to expect: - Reps should be invited in good time and told a venue and time. - An agenda should be issued before or at the meeting. - Minutes of previous meetings are usually checked. - New minutes will be taken (usually by the subject administrator). - Reps from all years of study should usually present. - The meeting will be led by the Chair – an academic staff member. - Reps will be given the opportunity to speak and give feedback for students.

Q.

What will happen before meetings?

A.

Reps should be sent a note or told when the meeting is (you can arrange how). An agenda may be issued beforehand (ideal), and there might be some documents/information sent also to look at. Also, to be most effective, reps should always get some advice and training if at all possible.

Q.

What happens at meetings?

A.

Whether fun, loud, quiet, or boring - or all things - the best advice is to make sure you go! It’s your opportunity to help students by relaying the collective student view – to impart issues raised, praise, requests, or suggestions. Staff should be keen to resolve any course related issues that are affecting a number of students. Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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It’ll be interesting to a degree we hope as it will be all about your course something you feel passionately about (or part of your course if you’re doing combined studies). Discussions might range from things that are really interesting to students (maybe arrangements for trips out, or decisions needed on some assessment regulations updates), to things that may be tedious, perhaps even boring! Different stages in the year can mean different considerations and some admin tasks will undoubtedly take up time; there could be report drafts to check or things decided that effect future years rather than directly benefiting you. At a first meeting: Please don’t worry… you should be given a warm welcome and be made to feel at ease. Those present may be asked to introduce themselves. You should not be hassled or pressured by staff. You are in a great position to raise your profile and excel at communicating, and the staff know that they need your input! As a new rep you should be given some guidance on what’s required. Most reps quickly gain experience and confidence so that they can speak up and negotiate effectively. Q.

How many reps should attend committee meetings?

A.

At least two reps from every year group are usually needed to attend for students. Please encourage others to volunteer if there are any gaps.

Q.

What gets decided?

A.

Make sure you ask if you think there are things that you think should be discussed. A common item of great interest to students is the “Student Reps Report” (or similar)… it’s your chance to speak up. You should be given a chance to speak! Meetings can cover all sorts of academic related areas including some that can be technical and include some jargon. But there are some common ones that all courses should consider – ie. “AP&E’s” (Action Plan and Enhancements)… this is a review of things the subject is planning to do to make things perfect! Every subject should keep track and report annually on how things are going. The ‘Any Other Business’ item is another common one that can be useful for reps!

Q.

Why do I have to go to meetings?

A.

It is a requirement of being an academic rep. The University states that meetings must be held – and reps must invited! As it’s part of the overall decision making process that makes the whole place work - we need your input… it is only through hearing from students in the proper way that the University can respond and deliver what students want and need. This is best opportunity for students to input into the direction of the course in the most effective manner, as the decisions made and minutes taken at subject committees are checked as part of faculty quality processes annual monitoring processes. It’s all part of a bigger picture of student representation that exists throughout all aspects of the University. (See more on our website).

Q.

What if I can’t go to a meeting and what about a stand-in?

A.

You must inform the Committee Chair or administrator as soon as possible. You can seek a stand-in to represent students on your behalf… indeed this is usually welcomed and encouraged by the SU and The University. Experienced reps are most effective but your student group should be keen to ensure someone goes to represent students.

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


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9) Tips for Greatest Success Be prepared… Read up! Make sure you read all the agenda/paperwork that you receive before a meeting (don’t worry - this may not apply to you). -

You don’t necessarily need to scrutinise every word. Skim through if time is short so you know what’s there. Try to pick out issues that are of direct interest to students. Ask yourself: what could affect us? Ask if there are words/sections that you’re unable to understand.

Ask if anything is unclear, and ask if you want a specific item on item on the agenda (you should always have at least a ‘reps report’ section on the agenda). The SU’s Representation Co-ordinator can look through papers, minutes, or agendas for meetings at any time during the year if you need any assistance. We suggest coming to get advice from us before you go to a meeting. Please bring a copy of any agenda you have if you can. If you need resources or assistance, or if we can help to forward a suggestion for you then please ask. Tell the University the best method for reaching you with updates or info. – ie. is there a pigeonhole for you on campus you can receive notes? Do you need to print stuff? The SU Office can usually help if it’s rep’s business.

Remind your group of upcoming meetings and how important they are. Plan when they are coming up - your subject should let you know well in advance.

Listen to your group, then Speak Up for them - it’s what the whole system is based on. It gives students power… It is done best through good communication including listening. Try to gather the majority student view on all the important happenings on your course. Try to list the most important issues of concern. When gathering opinions you should focus on academic course related comments as these only are for subject/programme committees; those concerning parking or the dining hall for instance are not for course reps to forward - but they can be passed to your Student Union Officers – as those representatives of students do speak at committees dealing with these. We trust our reps to be intelligent leaders who can use initiative to filter out items that may not be appropriate to forward (say due to extreme cost, or because they effect individuals, or simply if moans are too minor to be considered at important meetings where time is short. The best advice is to avoid forwarding unconsidered moans that are unconstructive.

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Don’t get pressured – Don’t get stressed - Seek help

If you feel under unreasonable pressure from any student group or any individual to bring up issues you’re not happy with then try to stand your ground. Don’t let fellow students be unfair - we want reps to feel comfortable - not lobbied. If you’re feeding back outcomes to your group it should ease their mind that you are working for their good – especially if you’re also able to let them know where official meeting minutes can be seen. Please remember that if you really don’t agree with the majority group view you are welcome to say that to the staff: Say that it’s the group view but not yours!

Other options: if something’s difficult for you to say, contentious, or requires special tact then a member of staff might be happy to bring up a point confidentially for students on your behalf: ask if you like. Seek advice if you need it. The SU’s Representation Coordinator can be contacted if you want messages sent to staff confidentially or if you want an announcement to students on the University’s message system (Portal).

More Tips: 1. Don’t see StAR as ‘us’ vs. ‘them’… this is a forum where academics and students alike can share experience(s) and often come to the same conclusion. Be cooperative and collaborative; it may involve compromise, but you may achieve more. 2. But… don’t take it lying down. You may come across staff members who are not willing to consider change even when it’s due. Don’t be afraid to keep pushing an issue when there are attempts to sweep it under the carpet. Make sure that a rep always goes to the Programme Committee meetings so that issues are taken forward. 3. Do communicate with those people you have been elected to represent. It is what StAR is there for, and it’ll make you, and the StAR system, credible. It only takes one evening to set up an email list, and then you can contact your fellow course mates for the rest of the year at the touch of a button. Your Rights... • To speak out: you shouldn’t be talked over by a staff member, or sabbatical or anyone else who may be present. You were elected to voice your students’ views, and your opinion is to be counted. • To make mistakes: it’s ok if you get things wrong – everyone understands that nobody’s perfect. The key thing is to learn from mistakes. • To say “I don’t understand”: you’ll receive much more respect if you just say you don’t understand; if you are unsure, ask! If you don’t want to ask in the meeting you could do so beforehand or afterwards. • To ask for what I want: your views are valid and legitimate. Even if they differ to those of staff, you have the right to represent what the students’ want!

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

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19 Listen for Students and Speak for students! Reps should be able to contact staff at any time during the year about issues effecting their student group(s). At meetings - don’t sit in silence – use this opportunity to help students. Always try to think of a response if you can when asked for your view on something. The first time it might seem daunting, but the practice will help for next time! Always try to listen… throughout the year to academic related happenings and changes in the media, and then (perhaps most difficult!)… at meetings you attend as a rep. Be confident: remember that you have a right to say: - “the student group doesn’t agree with a plan, decision” - “the group were not happy with… ” - “the group would like to request… ” - “please can you clarify/explain that point again… ” Formality is not mandatory, but politeness is. Clarity can be useful… “please can it be noted that the students are concerned about that” leaves little room for ambiguity: you’ll receive a clear answer, and hopefully get the one that’s wanted! Get taken seriously As in business you’ll be taken even more seriously if you’re on time, awake, and prepared. If you still think you’re not being taken seriously we would like to know; reps have rights and we are able to fight to maintain those rights or you. Be courteous At meetings, the chairperson is in charge... so be civil to them! You mustn’t let them miss out your bit, but equally important is not to be rude to them. Time is short so don’t ramble about issues unrelated to the current agenda item. Leave minor points outside of meetings: staff and heads of subject are usually easily contactable especially by reps - in person or via E-mail. If you think there should be more meetings then why not ask! Keep personal complaints for outside of meetings Don’t bring complaints about individuals to meetings, and keep personal names out of discussions in meetings wherever possible - especially if any hint of contentiousness could arise. If complaints about teaching or of a personal nature arise that can’t be resolved with staff directly, they should be reported to the Head of Department or the Associate Dean of the Faculty in the first instance. The SU’s Academic Affairs Officer or Reps Co-ordinator can also advise confidentially on how to proceed, or may be able to speak confidentially to the University for you if necessary.

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10) A Quick Glossary of Academic Terms

Academic Standards Committee (ASC) – This committee reports to Senate along with a number of others. ASC deals with issues regarding academic quality assurance to ensure standards are monitored, maintained, and enhanced. SU Officers also attend ASC. Academic Regulations Committee (ARC) – This sub committee reports to Academic Standards Committee. It manages the academic regulations for all taught programmes of study. Action Plans and Evaluation (AP&E) – At Winchester each programme of study produces an internal annual report that includes action plans for the future, known as an AP&E. AP&E’s form part of faculty reports and faculty student reps are involved with the checking process of these AP&E’s. Class-Taught Module – This refers to a module which is delivered in a classroom and involves regular timetabled meetings (lectures). Code of Practice – the protocols issued by the QAA relating to academic programme delivery & quality processes. Curriculum – means the learning design & content of a programme of study. Department Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) – the government department that is responsible for all aspects of education including universities. Field of Study – this is a term being phased down in use. business) in which a number of Programmes may run.

It the discipline area (ie.

Faculty Quality Committee (FQC) – the committee that your Subject/Programme Committee answers to. FQC’s in each faculty oversee academic quality and they should be attended by reliable student reps. Head of Department – Staff member in charge of an academic dept (within a faculty). Higher Education Active Community Fund (HEACF) – promotes volunteering in the local community. Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) – The largest part of the University’s funding comes from here (the government in effect). Higher Education Institution (HEI) – means universities and colleges providing degrees and other post-A levels study. Institutional Audit – a regular review undertaken by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). The QAA oversees and checks all Higher Education Institutions in England and Wales on a regular (usually five year) cycle.

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21 Learning & Teaching (L&T) – the way you are taught and the way you learn. This area is so important that it has its own committees at the University to ensure the latest best techniques are employed. Learning and Teaching Committee and Faculty L&T Committees include student reps. Module – a specific part (section) of Programme of study – usually run over one semester. (Note: not all Programmes are modular – ie. PGCE – has not modules!). The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) - The main function of this organisation is to asses and oversee the quality and standards of education in schools. Personal Development Planning (PDP) – This is something you may hear a lot about. Its primary objective is to improve the capacity of individuals to understand what they are learning, and to review, plan and take responsibility for their own learning. Programme of Study – The University term for a course of study. Programmes are often made up of a collection Modules studied to gain an undergraduate degree or other HE award. Students enrolled on a ‘Combined Honours’ Programme may be studying subjects from different faculties at once. Programme Approval – Each new course needs to be approved (validated) before it is able to run. The process involves external parties as well as University personnel. Programme Leader – the academic staff member leading of a Programme of Study (sometimes called Programme Director). Usually the Chair of the Programme Committee. Programme Review – sometimes known as re-validation, this happens on a five year cycle with the course being reviewed by internal & external expertise to ensure the course is running as it should. Students, particularly reps are often invited to be involved with part of this process. In the interim any significant changes are also subject to ‘minor validation’ approval. Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) – The government agency that makes sure institution’s are running well. They check on quality standards and carry out audits of all England and Wales’ HEI’s (see Institutional Audit). Senate – Within the University this body is responsible for overseeing all academic affairs. Senate reports to the Board of Governors through the Chairperson – the University’s Vice Chancellor. Student Union Officers sit on this committee to represent students. Senior Management Group – the most senior staff body at the University of Winchester comprised of the Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Pro Vice Chancellors (Academic and External Projects), Assistant Vice Chancellor, and the Director of Finance and Strategy. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

See our website for an enhanced glossary at www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/star

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Programme/Subject Committee Meeting Dates Here is a place where you can add your upcoming meeting dates as a reminder (ie. committee or cohort meetings that reps should be attending for your course)

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11) Student Union Contacts If you have any specific issues, difficulties as a rep carrying out the role, and need advice please contact us. All Union Executive officers and core staff have contact details listed on our website at www.winchesterstudents.co.uk Pigeonholes are available for all at Student Union Reception (Level 3, The University Centre) Contact / Name

E-mail address

Contact

Support for Reps

SUstar@winchester.ac.uk (To contact the Academic Affairs Officer/Representation Co-ordinator)

Telephone: 01962 827566 Internal 7566

Education/academic SU_Education@winchester.ac.uk (Academic Affairs Officer issues or support and Student Union President)

Telephone: 01962 827566 Internal 7566

Tim Moss Representation & Participation Co-ordinator (RPC) James Challiss Student Union Academic Affairs Officer

tim.moss@winchester.ac.uk

Telephone: 01962 827566 Internal 7566 Pigeonhole available at SU Reception

SU_Education@winchester.ac.uk

Seb Miell Student Union President

Telephone: 01962 827418 Internal 7418 Pigeonhole available at SU Reception

SU_Pres@winchester.ac.uk

Telephone: 01962 827415 Internal 7415 Pigeonhole available at SU Reception

University contacts To report issues and request changes please always if possible contact /ask relevant department staff (your tutors/lecturers) in the first instance. Making requests or asking for feedback directly from those involved is recommended. For support/enquiries… The best staff to contact specifically for student representation matters include: Academic Programme Leaders/Directors (usually Chairs of Programme/Subject Committees) Subject Administrators, Faculty Managers, or Associate Deans. We are happy to contact University staff for you if requested. The Union’s Representation Co-ordinator can liaise confidentially or make requests on behalf of reps or for groups of students if wished.

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

www.winchesterstudents.co.uk


Guidelines for Student Representation at Winchester…

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For the full guidelines on how the University allows Student Academic Representation - see the Code of Practice on our website at: www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/star - it is the guide to all parties involved: University, Student Union, and students through your Reps.

Further information... Student Union StAR Student Academic Representation website:www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/star The Student Representation (StAR) Group on the University Learning Network: http://learn.winchester.ac.uk > “See Help & Student Representation” (logon required) More websites… www.qaa.ac.uk The Quality Assurance Agency (for Higher Education) website Information on quality standards in HE from the agency responsible for standards http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education BBC News (Education) website For the latest happenings in HE University Student Services See www.winchester.ac.uk > My Portal > Services Advice for students, support, and counselling including financial difficulties & concessions www.oiahe.org.uk The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education External agency available to contact for serious complaints

(The University’s internal processes and contacts must be used in the first instance before this agency – see website for more information) www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/survey Information, links, and updates on the 2009 and 2005 Institutional Audits of The University of Winchester by the QAA including the Student Written Submission (SWS) documents on behalf of students.

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Winchester Student Union, Sparkford Road Winchester, Hampshire, SO22 4NR Tel: 01962 827418

Printed by Reprographics Dept, The University of Winchester

Student Union Handbook Guide for StAR’s

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A Guide for Student Academic Representatives