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Making the most out of your StARs

The purpose of the Student Academic Representative System Bath Spa University and Bath Spa University Students’ Union are jointly responsible for the Student Academic Rep System… StARs… The Union is responsible for coordinating the recruitment process and training StARs and providing ongoing support. StARs form the vital link of communication that conveys the student voice to Academic Staff, the Union and University Departments and are a key way for the University and more importantly, the departments, to find out what students think about their experience at Bath Spa. StARs inform other students on the reasoning behind decisions, help academics know what students want , give feedback and consult with staff and their fellow students so that courses can be as enjoyable and accessible as possible.

What are StARs? All representatives come under the abbreviation StARs which stands for student academic representatives. A StAR (Student Academic Rep.) is a student who is elected/appointed through modules or courses to represent students on the same course/ module and year group. They hold this position for one year. Their remit is to collect and report student views, issues and concerns about their educational experience and feed these back to the University through departments and the Union. Roles can be slightly different depending on schools and which position students would like.

Course Reps A course representative is a StAR who represents the views of students within their cohort to departmental staff, the University and the Students’ Union. The majority of reps will be course reps. A Course Representatives is a student that is elected/appointed by other students on the same course so that their views can be heard. Course Representatives Identify students’ issues and needs, and proactively seek fellow student opinions. A Course Representative will liaise with university staff and students, working together as a team to shape the learning experience Department Reps A Department Representative is a StAR who covers both roles as course rep and department rep and is useful when there are a number of subjects within a school as he/she can filter messages both ways. He/ she will represent the views of students within their cohort to departmental staff, the University and the Students’ Union. They will Identify students’ issues and needs, and proactively seek fellow student opinions so an accurate reflection is gained across a larger school. A Department Representative is a student that is elected/appointed by other students on the same course so that their views can be heard. Department Representatives . They will liaise with university staff, students and other representatives, working together as a team to shape the learning experience. School Reps A School Representative is the highest level StAR who represents the views of students within their cohort to departmental staff, the University and the Students’ Union. A School Representative is a student who has normally had previous experience as a course representative and although they are still a course rep they have extra responsibility. They are elected/appointed by other students on the same course and voted in by other course reps. A School Representative will liaise with university staff, other course representatives and students, working together as a team to shape the course. They Identify student issues needs and proactively seek fellow students’ opinion for their school taking this feedback to higher level university meetings

Meetings What do StARs attend and when? You can find out the dates of meetings on the SU website under the representing you > academic reps > StARs meetings section of the website Staff/student Liaison Meetings (or similar) Dates are organised through the department. Normally a meeting with an academic and reps in the year. These are the main decision making arena for your subject and year group. Who attends: Course reps. Union Committee Meetings– these are once a term. All reps from your school attend. This is a chance to discuss issues with other reps who are in a different year and although in the same school may be studying a different course. This meeting is chaired by the Union president and your head of school is also invited. Views are collected in order to pass anything on to the School Board meetings which is the highest level decision making body in your school. Who attends: all reps in the school across all subjects and years School Board Meetings—School reps and some department reps sit on these meetings. These meet termly after the Union School Committee meetings. This gives a chance to collate views to present at this meeting with academics and head of school in which higher level decisions can be made. If you want to get a matter discussed at the School Board try first raising it at SSLC and then getting it passed on to School Board. A proposal first discussed at SSLC will be given more serious consideration than if you were to try and introduce it to School Board direct. Who attends: School reps and some department reps Union Council All Department Reps are members of Union Council. Union Council meets at the Guildhall at least twice per term to discuss and make policy decisions for the direction of the Students’ Union. One of the best ways for Student Reps to ensure that the needs of students within your School are being met by the Students’ Union is to create good links with the Union President or get your Department Rep to raise the issue at Union Council. Issues across the University can be discussed at union Council - not just academic issues. For example sports facilities and bus services.

Meetings Diagram The following diagram shows the meetings structure:

Useful ideas for meetings In order to maximise having a student rep here are some tips so that everyone benefits: Table a designated ‘rep item’ in the agenda of staff/student meetings and other StARs-attended meetings Some departments have a specific item for StARs within their department or staff/student meeting agendas and this is a model of best practice. This is often at the top of the agenda, so that if students need to leave they are able to do so. However, reps should still be encouraged to contribute to other issues on the agenda, as appropriate. Sending papers in advance StARs are told that papers and minutes are sent to their pigeonholes up to a week in advance of meetings, to give them time to consult students for their opinions. Where a department is aware that a decision may have far-reaching effects on students, as much forewarning as possible should be given to ensure StARs are able to get as full a representative view of the range of student opinion as possible. If your department publishes papers/ minutes on Minerva, please ensure StARs are aware of this and that they have access to them. Sending reminder emails before meetings It would be helpful to send StARs reminder emails with the date, time and place of meetings. General reminders can also be will also be sent from the Union if we are informed of your meeting dates Minute StARs attendance at all meetings Where StARs attend a meeting or send their apologies, this should be clearly reflected in the minutes. Best practice minutes list everyone attending the meeting, not just University staff members. It is good practice to state attendees’ names rather then ‘Yr 1 Student Representative’.

Send copies of minutes to the Union Copies of department, Staff/Student meetings and other minutes should be e-mailed to the Union at so attendance at meetings can be monitored, and follow-up support and assistance Minute action points In order for StARs to see and feel tangible benefits to attending department or staff, student meetings, we would request that issues raised by StARs at meetings are clearly minuted and any action agreed from discussions be clearly noted in minutes as an action point. Future minutes should reflect what action has been taken to complete the action point and be noted under matters arising.

Benefits of having StARs StARs can benefit your department in many different ways: Feeding back views, at the end of each module you have a feedback form – this may be very helpful for students in the future but may not impact on present students. Having the rep system means you can resolve things now. Consulting and getting opinions on things such as teaching resources, teaching methods, study resources, course content and structure, hidden course costs and general course related issues. Consultation with students, they may be able to reach a wide audience What are the issues and potential solutions? If an issue is raised it may not be something they can fix straight away, there needs to be a realistic outcome or some things may take time to implement. Creating a culture of partnership between the University and the students. The University wants to encourage your opinion. Decision making– this could be about the bus, space, resources etc which gives students a sense of ownership. Culture of Representation – getting the balance right is important. Feeding back through a central point of contact is easier for channels of communication.

Recruitment of StARs As a standard guideline ideally there should be two reps per subject per year. This is so that meetings can be covered if one of the reps is unable to attend. It also provides a support network and shares in good practice. Recruitment of StARs should take place early in the autumn term, before Wednesday 27th October 2010 if possible. Year 1 Reps The minimum level of representation the University and Union are looking for is 2 StARs per year of a subject The initial promotion of the StARs system will be undertaken by the Union, any students interested in becoming a StAR for their subject will be directed to talk to their tutor about the process. In the first few weeks of the academic year, lecturers should ask if anyone wants to the StAR for their year and distribute the StARs promotional leaflets. If there are a number of students wanting to be a StAR for their year, it is expected that departments should hold an election process; this can be as easy as asking students to vote at the end of a lecture. Once the StARs for your subject are confirmed they should be directed to register with the Union and book their induction by visiting If no one stands for a post, the department will need to recruit for the role at the earliest opportunity. If this is the case, the Union will be in touch with further information and will assist in promoting the role further.

Year 2/3 Reps In the first instance the Students’ Union will try to identify via email etc, as many reps who would like to continue in their role or other students who would like to stand against them. as possible in the first instance by contacting all previous reps via email and phone. At the end of induction week, the students’ union will forwarded details of students it has found to be interested directly to the department. Students can then confirm (usually by a show of hands) that they are happy with that person representing them or if anyone else wants to stand against them. Heads of Department/Course Leaders will then continue to recruit as in previous years. Wherever possible staff working directly with the students in their subject areas would be asked to fill in any gaps where reps are needed for their subject including the first year intake. This could be via email to all students or asking students for there interest directly. As previously carried out students can then confirm (usually by a show of hands) that they are happy with that person representing them. Once the StARs for your subject are confirmed they should be directed to register with the Union and book their induction by visiting

Support for University staff Once known, details of the StARs within each department will be published online at and promoted to all students within the department and across the university. All university staff are welcome to contact • For clarification on the running of the StARs scheme • With suggestions for improvements • Assistance if they have concerns about a StAR behaviour • If a StAR consistently fails to attend meetings For further information including meeting dates, the names of your StARs and how the system works

How can you help your StARs Arrange a meeting between the key department staff and StARs This can enable a Rep to feel welcomed by the department as well as giving them an understanding of who they are working with. Promote the StARs system Staff are encouraged to promote the StARs system throughout the year and actively encourage students to raise their concerns and opinions with their StAR. Some departments print the name and Bath Spa e-mail of the StAR for the module/year, at the end of lecture and seminar notes. Notice boards Departments are encouraged to provide a notice board solely for rep use. Reps should be encouraged to use it to: • publicise their contact details (including a photograph) • leave minutes of meetings • request feed-in from students on particular issues Allow StARS to speak in lectures and seminars StARs should also be introduced during the first lecture/seminar after appointment so students are aware of who their StAR is.

A simple but effective way of raising the profile of the scheme is by allowing StARs a short slot at the beginning or end of lectures and/or seminars. They could also be used to publicise the scheme at election time to encourage others to stand.

What to do if a StAR resigns If a StAR in the scheme decides that they wish to withdraw, they need to put this in writing (an email will suffice) to the Union at If this happens, the department will need to organise a replacement. The name of the replacement should be sent to Union so that they can receive training and be added to the StARs mailing list. The Union can provide support in promoting the scheme and recruiting a replacement if needed.

StARs Awards Every year Bath Spa University’s volunteering department hosts the Volunteer, Society and Representation Awards. This evening is a celebration to recognise the hard work and commitment in whichever way students volunteer. We appreciate the time and effort that student academic reps put into their role. The awards will be held on 12th May 2011 and staff will be contacted to nominate students for an award.

Contacts General StARs contact Email: Website Student Engagement Assistant Claire Edwards E-mail Tel 01225 87 (5588)

Union President Richard Bidgood E-mail Tel 01225 87 (5588) Head of Quality Management Katie Akerman E-mail Tel 01225 87(5527)

Student Development Coordinator Susan Hammond E-mail Tel 01225 87 (5588)


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