Student Rep Induction Dates: Mon 27th Oct 2008 @ 12:30 to 2:00pm - Gosta Green Tue 28th Oct 2008 @ 12:30 til 2:00pm - Gosta Green Wed 29th Oct 2008 @ 12:30 til 2:00pm - Conservatoire Thur 30th Oct 2008 @ 12:00 til 1:30pm - City North Fri 31st Oct 2008 @ 12:30 til 2:00pm - Edgbaston Mon 3rd Nov 2008 @ 5:30 til 7:00pm - City North Tues 4th Nov 2008 @ 12:30 til 2:00pm - Millennium Point Wed 5th Nov 2008 @ 12:30 til 2:00pm - City North Thur 6th Nov 2008 @ 12:30 til 2:00pm - Edgbaston Please e-mail to confirm attendance firstname.lastname@example.org We will then contact you to let you know the venue for the induction. Please note that reps only need to attend one of the sessions. If you are unable to attend please let us know and we will try to arrange another time to meet with you. If you have attended training in a previous year there is no need for you to attend again, unless you wish to do so.
Contents Foreword from the Studentsâ€™ Union
Message from the University
What are Student Reps?
Becoming a Student Rep
Guidance for Course Directors and Student Reps
How to be an effective Student Rep
Main Committee Structures
01 Student Rep Handbook
Foreword Congratulations on becoming a Student Representative! I would like to take this opportunity to say hello to new Student Reps and to welcome back those from last year. You, the Student Reps are students who attend University committees on behalf of your fellow students. Over the next year, you will help improve the quality of the University experience for students by representing the views, positive and negative, of those currently studying in your faculty. The Studentsâ€™ Union, in partnership with the University, sees representation as a priority and we welcome your involvement. Within this handbook is everything you will need to support you in becoming confident and effective at representing students. There is other support available, this is the just the starting point, and there are lots of people who can offer guidance and support. (Details at the back of this booklet) All Student Reps have the opportunity to attend training and those who do will receive a certificate. I hope you find your experiences as a Student Rep valuable and that you enjoy your time in this role. Remember that if you need any support or help donâ€™t hesitate to get in touch. Good luck! Hannah Newland Representation & Campaigns Officer
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Message from the University As a Student Rep, your role is an important one in ensuring the views of students are heard within the University. The feedback you provide contributes greatly to our efforts to enhance the quality of the learning experience for all students here at Birmingham City University. The University is working in partnership with Birmingham City Studentsâ€™ Union to improve the system of student representation and to provide students with the opportunity to participate effectively in discussion and decision making at all levels. We really do want to involve students in our enhancement agenda and we have put in place processes to make sure that you, and the students you represent, know what actions we are taking in response to your feedback. Thank you for all your efforts and the contribution you are making to the University. Sally Westney Pro Vice Chancellor (Student Experience and Satisfaction)
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What are Student Reps? Student Reps are elected by their fellow students and play a vital role in communicating students’ views to staff within courses. As a Student Rep you are in place to ensure that any student, no matter what course or campus, can have their say on issues affecting their education. As a Student Rep you will canvass opinion, represent these views at various University meetings and feed back the outcome of these meetings to students. You will be asked to provide staff with information about how courses can be improved or to support staff in bids to introduce new teaching and learning projects. The Student Rep System allows for early identification of potential problems. Where matters can’t be dealt with at course level they can be moved up within the University structure and addressed by the Faculty or the University. Student Reps also provide a link between the students and the Students’ Union. The Students’ Union will offer training and send out briefings and consultations throughout the year via email and Moodle. It is an important part of your role as Student Rep to communicate with the Union to ensure the Union is made aware of issues that affect the student body. This handbook is intended to serve as both an introduction and a reference point for students and staff involved in the Student Representation System. Contact details and sources of further help are provided at the back of the booklet. Most Student Reps will represent students on their course and attend Boards of Studies and other Faculty level feedback forums. As a Student Rep you can also get involved at a higher level and attend Faculty Board or Senate. These are explained on the next page.
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Boards of Studies As a Student Rep an important part of your job is to attend the Board of Studies for your course. A Board of Study (BoS) is the forum for course staff, students and often a member of library staff to raise matters of common concern related to a particular course and to make recommendations. BoS will normally happen several times a semester. The BoS will often deal with day-to-day organisational matters and communication problems. These may include: Effectiveness of teaching - Are course materials at the appropriate level, visible, useful? Are the teaching methods varied and engaging? Are teaching facilities appropriate? - Is the room and equipment suitable for teaching? The use of Learning and Teaching Strategies - How will these determine the way students learn, e.g. web-based learning; examinations... Feedback to students - Is the feedback a student receives good enough so that the next piece of coursework can be improved? Hidden course costs - Are the costs of your course clear and did you know about them? Do you have to travel to other sites? Do you have to pay for printing or photocopying? Each Faculty tends to set a standard agenda for BoS meetings. As a minimum each BoS should have one Student Rep from each branch of each course. These meetings are usually chaired by Course Directors.
Faculty Boards Faculty Boards are the next stage up from Boards of Studies. As a Student Rep on Faculty Board you represent students on a cluster of courses and get the chance to participate in discussions about issues affecting the whole the faculty not just a specific course. Faculty Boards include at least one Student Rep amongst its members, in addition to academic and administrative staff. Faculty Reps are elected or nominated by each individual faculty.
Senate Senate is the body within the University responsible for academic matters and controlling and regulating academic programmes. It has a wide membership including members of Directorate, heads of faculties as well as the Studentsâ€™ Union President and the Representation and Campaigns officer. Currently there are two other student positions available both for part time students. As a Student Rep on Senate you would be participating in discussions and decision making at the highest level. If you are interested in attending Senate or being a Faculty Rep then please contact the Representation Coordinator at studentsunion.representation@ bcu.ac.uk
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Becoming a Student Rep... Guidance for staff and students If you are interested in becoming a Student Rep first speak to your Course Director who will inform you of the arrangements for choosing a Student Rep on your course. It is important that students elect their Student Reps so that they can choose the most effective and appropriate candidate and so the Rep has the support of his/her peers. These elections do not have to be complicated, a show of hands is sufficient. If an election is unnecessary because a candidate is uncontested then staff should ensure that students on the course agree to the appointment. All students have the right to stand for election and courses have to ensure that part-time students are given the same opportunity as full-time students.
Election Times Student Reps are elected each year by the student body. Elections for Student Reps will normally be held in the second week of the first semester. Names and contact details must be submitted to the Academic Registry member of the SRCG by October 17th 2008 for courses starting in September 2008. Election timing has been set for these periods so that students can get to know each other and then choose their representatives before the first Board of Study meeting. If Course Directors have any questions about Student Reps they are welcome to contact the Representation Coordinator: studentsunion.representation@ bcu.ac.uk
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Guidance for Course Directors and Student Reps Course Director’s Role The role of the Course Director is absolutely crucial in fostering effective student representation. They are a point of contact on the course for the students, the University and the Students’ Union. Their overall role is to... ensure that elections of Student Reps take place at the appointed time i.e. before the end of week 2 of the first semester. For courses starting later the elections should take place by the end of the second week of the course start date. ensure that the Student Rep’s name, course details, year, mode of study, personal email address, telephone number and contact address are passed to Academic Registry by the October 17th for courses starting in September 2008. ensure that Student Reps are provided with dates of meetings and copies of agendas. ensure that Student Reps are provided with a space on the course notice board and Moodle to display their names, contact details, and minutes of the Boards of Studies meetings. ensure that at committee meetings Student Reps are welcomed and given encouragement and opportunities to raise issues and discuss points promote the importance of Student Representation to students and staff on the course and support the system generally.
Student Rep Induction The Students’ Union provides an induction for Student Reps which covers the skills and information that will be essential in your role. The induction focuses on how the University operates, and how Student Reps can influence University decisions. Assertiveness skills Negotiation strategies and skills Communication skills How to become an effective Rep For this year’s training dates see Page 1. If you are not able to make the date then please contact the Representation Coordinator to arrange an alternative time.
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How to be an effective Student Rep... You can gain a lot of satisfaction from being a Student Rep. By volunteering your time you can make sure that the views of your peers get heard on your course and within faculties. Being a Student Rep is an opportunity but also carries with it a degree of responsibility. Below are a few key pointers to making the most your role.
Publicise yourself! The key to being an effective student rep is to make yourself available and identifiable. You need to publicise yourself, otherwise how will anyone but your friends know you’re a Rep? You can do this in a variety of ways: Lecture Shouts - speak to your lecturer before to agree it, and then speak to all your classmates at the start of the lecture. Two minutes can get you known for the entire year as the Student Rep, so it is strongly recommended! Student Rep Notice Boards - Most faculties now have at least one Student Rep notice board which you can use to put your contact details on. Speak to the Representation Coordinator for further details. Course Notice Boards - Ask your Course Director to put your details on the course notice board explaining how to contact you (pigeon hole, email, etc). Suggestion Box - Ask your Course Director if it is possible to have a suggestion box next to your contact details. Course Moodle - Talk to your Course Director about using your course pages on Moodle to contact the students on your course. Meeting Place - Advertise to students that you will be available every week, or on a particular date at certain times. That way people will know where to find you to discuss their issues. You could sit in the same place every week, or stand outside a lecture theatre, whatever suits you, as long as you turn up!
Gather Feedback There may be issues which are cropping up from your fellow students or items to be discussed at the Board of Studies, which you have been asked to find out students’ views on. It is important that you remember you are there to represent the views of your fellow students rather than just your own. In addition, Student Reps should seek to identify issues affecting student groups (e.g. part-time or mature students) not directly represented at the Board of Studies and to speak on their behalf. You can seek out your fellow students’ views in a variety of ways, these are explained on the next page.
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Questionnaires - Design a small questionnaire and ask your fellow students to fill it out. This will equip you with evidence to argue your case at the Board of Studies. Focus Groups/Meeting - Announce by poster/lecture shout/Moodle that you will be holding a focus group or meeting on a particular topic; this will allow you to explore the issues and provide evidence to form your arguments for your Board of Studies. Facebook - set up a course discussion group on Facebook and advertise it to your classmates The Studentsâ€™ Union - Speak to a Representation Coordinator (details at the back of this booklet) to see if it is a problem on other courses or if it is an issue which could affect the whole student body.
Attend and Participate in Meetings Boards of Studies It is important you attend these meetings because it is here that you will discuss and negotiate with staff from your course and hopefully reach a solution on issues brought up by students. Feedback In order to be truly effective as a Student Rep you need to keep those you represent informed of decisions and developments from the Board of Studies. At the end of each meeting the secretary to the Board of Studies should produce an action plan which shows how the issues raised will be followed up. You need to share this with your fellow students by: Lecture Shout - Ask your lecturer for five minutes to run through the outcomes of the meeting and how you are going to follow them up. Email - If you have been given permission by students to email them, then email round the details of what happened at the meeting. Post Minutes on Notice Board - Display the meeting minutes for students to look at. A tip for this is to change the colour of the paper for each meeting that takes place or you can ask to announce in your lectures that a new set of minutes is up so people are aware. Course Moodle - If you have access to Moodle on your course, arrange with your course director to post the outcomes of the meeting and let students know about issues coming up. Remember also that it is often a good idea to seek out the views and support of other student reps to get advice on how to respond to issues. The Studentsâ€™ Union has set up Faculty Student Rep Moodle areas for you to use (see details at the back of this booklet).
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Find Out... Which member of staff do I speak for further information about rep issues? (Name of Course Director and Course Administrator)
When are my Board of Study Meetings? (Dates and times)
Where do I get the papers/agenda for the meetings?
How do I put an item on the agenda? (Is there a deadline before the meeting? Can I raise issues at the meeting without giving notice?)
Is there a course notice board or a course section on Moodle where I can place information and items for discussion?
Who are the other reps on my course? (Names and contact details)
How will I let other students know that I am their rep?
Who do I contact in the Studentsâ€™ Union if I have any queries?
Sarah Blatchford (Representation Coordinator) Email: email@example.com Tel: 0121 331 6817 If you think you need further help or information on your role as a Rep then contact the Representation Coordinator at the Studentsâ€™ Union (details at the back of this booklet).Alternatively speak to your Course Director for advice.
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Meetings As previously mentioned most Student Reps will attend Boards of Studies (BoS) but these tips apply equally to other University meetings. To ensure that these meetings are most effective, Reps should try and attend as prepared as possible and follow these steps.
Preparation before the Meeting Check: Where and when is the meeting? Prepare for meetings by reading and understanding the minutes of previous meetings. You should receive these at least five days before the meeting. Read the agenda. Do you need more information either from the Students’ Union or the students you are representing? Meet with other Reps at the BoS and let them know in advance which issues should be discussed. If necessary, have items placed on the agenda. Ask students their comments. Get lots of feedback.
At the Meeting Remember BoS is a forum to share problems and experiences that are common to several students - don’t use it to address individual grievances. Be prepared to participate- it’s your opportunity to express views of those on your course. State problems in a constructive way. Say what the problem is and don’t attach blame to an individual. Break larger problems into workable pieces and deal with them separately. Take notes and know who is responsible for specific issues. Ensure what actions are to be carried out. Be assertive instead of aggressive. It is more effective than arguing. If you have any doubts ask for clarification. Be willing to consider other views.
After the Meeting Report back to students on what was said and outcomes. Identify any issue that needs to be followed up. Contact the Representation Coordinator at studentsunion. firstname.lastname@example.org if help is needed.
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Useful terms in Meetings Minutes - A written record of the events of the meeting including matters discussed and any decisions made. Apologies for Absence A record in the minutes of the names of people who have said that they cannot attend. Matters Arising - Issues discussed at the last meeting that do not appear on the agenda. They should be used for updates and progress chasing. Reports - It is normally for specific people to report on what they have been doing. It is often an advantage to circulate these in writing beforehand. It is essential you do this where the issue is complicated. Items - You can put forward any comments, ideas or questions on the issue under discussion. Any Other Business - This is where any item or issues not covered in the meeting can be raised. i.e., point of information about forthcoming events, a question to another member about their work, a general enquiry.
Likely problems and Solutions As a Student Rep it is likely that you will encounter a variety of issues and problems. Student Reps training will address how you can tackle problems, and how to negotiate with your course to resolve them. However, to help you along the way we have compiled some issues that often crop up and how to tackle them as a guide. Lecture rooms: If students are saying the lecture room is unsuitable due to its size: Get specifics on why it is unsuitable Take these to the BoS and ask staff to find out whether it is possible to change rooms. If it is not possible for that term then ask whether it can be changed for the next term. Pass on the results of the meeting back to the students on your course. Cancelling lectures: If lectures are being cancelled without warning: Find out the reason for this happening Ask the lecturer in question whether advanced warning can be given to students if lectures are going to be cancelled. Investigate the possibility of lecture cancellations or lecture notes being placed on Moodle. Pass on the results of the meeting back to the students on your course. Assessment feedback to students: If students are reporting having problems getting feedback on their assessed work: Ask as many students as possible if it is happening to them Bring it to the BoS and ask if this can be rectified. Inform the Representation Coordinator on email@example.com as this is an issue the Studentsâ€™ Union will campaign on this year. Pass on the results of the meeting back to the students on your course. Individual Problems: As a Rep you may be asked to solve problems that are out of your remit such as personal, financial or housing issues. There is a lot of help, advice and guidance available for students with individual problems. In cases such as these refer the student to their personal tutor, or to the Advice Centre in the Studentsâ€™ Union. (Details at back of this booklet).
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Main Committee Structures... Birmingham City Students’ Union Student Council - is the main decision-making body within the Students’ Union. Elected Student Councillors make decisions on how the Students’ Union is run. From deciding to refurbish the bars to fighting for students’ rights on their courses, Student Council makes that decision. There are 69 Student Councillors elected from across Birmingham City University. The Executive takes important issues affecting students at the University to Student Council for a decision and guidance on what is the best way forward. Executive Committee - is responsible for putting Students’ Union Council’s decisions into action. There are eleven positions on the Executive, five paid full-time posts and six voluntary posts that students undertake while studying. Each officer has an individual remit. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) - takes places in the final term of the year and makes major decisions about the next academic year. It also looks at where Birmingham City Students’ Union’s money is spent. Every student at Birmingham City University has the right to attend the AGM. We also have elections on issues such as to whether the Union should be a member of the National Union of Students and other educational, political or social issues affecting students. These are called referendums.
Birmingham City University The University’s committees are the main bodies working on the improvement and development of learning, teaching, research, finances and anything else a part of the University may have to manage. The lower level committees do more detailed work and the higher-level committees are decision-making and approval bodies. Senate - a body within the University which is responsible for academic matters and controlling and regulating academic programmes. ASQEC (Academic Standards and Quality Enhancement Committee) - a sub-committee of Senate. It makes recommendations to Senate to ensure academic standards are maintained. Working Parties - both the Academic Standards and Quality Enhancement Committee (ASQEC) and Senate may set up working parties to investigate and make recommendations on specific areas of University business. Members of the Union Executive can be asked to sit on these groups. A recent example is the Anonymous Marking Working Group which was set up to develop a University policy and/or guidance regarding the process for anonymous marking at faculty level. The Students’ Union Representations and Campaigns Officer sat on this group. Quality Assurance Agency - Universities are required by a body called the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to prove that both their procedures and the quality of the courses they provide is up to scratch. A key part of the QAA requirement relates to the existence of an effective student representation system. As a Student Rep you may be asked by the university or the union to feed in to this process.
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Further help... The following people and departments can help with any problems on student representation or with advice and support if you need to tackle a problem. The Student Representation Coordinating Group oversee the running of the Student Representation System. This group is made up of the Union Representation and Campaigns Officer and the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) with the support of the Representation Coordinator at the Students’ Union and a member of Academic Registry. Names of Student Reps should be forwarded directly to Academic Registry contact Clare Portlock. Other Student Rep queries from students and staff should be sent to the Representation Coordinator. Contact: Sarah Blatchford (Representation Coordinator) Tel: 0121 331 6817 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The Representation and Campaigns Officer co-ordinates all the Students’ Union work on education related issues and oversees the Student Representation System in liaison with the Representation Coordinators and the Academic Registry He works regularly with the University to ensure that the quality of education is enhanced. Contact: Hannah Newland (Representation and Campaigns Officer) Tel: 0121 331 6815 Email: email@example.com Course Directors may be able to answer your query or advise you about what to do next. Faculty Moodle Site is a system whereby the Students’ Union provides a facility for online dialogue between student reps within each faculty. This is in addition to any course specific Moodle pages which are set up. We will automatically register you on your faculty site once we get your name. If you wish to register yourself please let the Representation Coordinator know. Student Reps section of the Union Website will contain basic information about training sessions, the Student Rep Handbook, Boards of Studies and Faculty Board. www.birminghamcitysu.com/reps The Advice Centre deals with a wide range of problems. It is completely confidential and is totally independent from the University. The Advice Centre can help you with... Money Issues - Loans, grants, hardship funds, budgeting, debts, benefits, etc... Academic Matters - Failed exams, disciplinary matters such as accusations of cheating and plagiarism, coursework extensions etc... Housing Problems - Such as landlord problems, tenant disputes, finding somewhere to live (including our Rooms for Rent Service). Also legal matters, health and personal issues, employment, overseas student concerns, disability, childcare, local information… You can contact a member of staff at the Advice Centre - 0121 331 6801
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Birmingham City Studentsâ€™ Union really hopes you have found this booklet helpful. Please let your Representation and Campaigns Officer or the Representation Coordinator know if you have any comments about this publication. Good Luck in your role as a Student Rep!