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The Reading Rep

Issue 8

Celebrations & Send-offs Debate – it’s something we know well here in RUSU and it’s on the minds of the public at the moment as the recent leaders debate was televised on the BBC and we draw closer to the General Election on June 8th. It got us thinking about our leaders here at RUSU and Academic Representation with their many debates that have taken place over the year. It’s something our full time officers and reps are all too familiar with as they’ve negotiated and problem-solved their way through issues at committees across the University. But, debate raises important questions

within our communities; whether it be the wider national agenda or the agenda of a course rep consultation. It came up again at out yearly School Rep training that ran this year with great success (see P 10&11). We worked with a dozen students and our new education officer Ed White over two days to deliver a training that involved peer interaction, knowledge building and all-important debate (of course)! We also have to take our hat off to our out-going Education Officer, Niall Hamilton for all the fun he’s brought us and changes he’s made during his two years at RUSU. Find out more about his achievements on P5.


Contents We’ve gathered anonymous feedback from you and from our Impact Survey 2017 to find out Your Say and Why you love being an Academic Rep.


Your Education Officer, Niall Hamilton reveals all about his two year takeover, reflects on his time at RUSU and gives us the low down on his best bits.


Our What’s On page has a host of events and important dates for you to save to your diary (or iCalender), so don’t miss out!



The results are in for our 2017 Impact Survey and we’re collating the feedback from you to find out how we’re doing and what can be improved within Academic Representation.

School Rep Training took place this term. Lots of you attended and got to know your fellow Reps, exploring the role and representation in RUSU.


10 The brilliant Advice team give us an overview of the services they offer and testimonials from you highlight the work they do.

Sed Joshi, your fabulous Diversity Officer goes out with a bang! Queen Bee emojis upon request decorate our guest profile on the back page quiz!


Meet the team Well it’s a wrap! Here I am, writing to you for the last time as RUSU Education Officer! The last two years have been filled with so many ups and downs. From occupying the Agric building during the PAS campaign to fighting to save Theatre Education, Arts and Deaf Studies, we’ve had some major successes! Remember winning on freezing fees for international students, debating ministers in Westminster, helping design curricula and electing the most ever Academic Reps in RUSU history! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything we’ve managed to do. This University is a place of boundless creativity, unending passion and amazing students. For those moving on like myself, best of luck, for those staying, get more involved in the Union! Make sure you keep in contact and all the best for the future.~ Niall Hamilton


Victoria Bundy – Academic Rep Manager It’s all change here at RUSU as we begin the handover process for our School Reps. However, this also means my time working with Niall is sadly coming to an end - what a great two years it has been! Together we have achieved so much and developed Academic Representation further than I would have ever imagined! We’ve more Course Reps than ever, introduced the Student Voice at a school level, expanded the student-led RUSU Excellence Awards, created new partnerships, developed University policies, run nation-wide HE pilot schemes, campaigns, parties, meetings, and run a million elections… Massive well done, you’ve been amazing, and good luck for the future Education Queen! (Oh and talking of elections… remember to get out and vote on Thursday 8th June people!)

Emily Bartholomew –Academic Rep Coordinator Hello lovely reps! Hope you’re all out enjoying the sunshine! The past few weeks have been super busy organising School Rep training. It was the first time conducting training for myself and Hannah but I’m happy to say that it went really well and we had lots of fun! It was great to get to know the future reps who were all lovely and seemed really motivated! On another positive note – we received TRIPLE the amount of responses from this Impact Survey compared to last years with some brilliant feedback from you. We are now in the process of using this content to promote your amazing achievements! As always – get in touch with one of us for anything or pop in - even if you just fancy a chat.

Hannah Smithson – Academic Rep Coordinator It seems a little sad this month to be saying farewell to our Full Time Officers as in the short time I’ve been here, we’ve started to get to know each other and develop friendships. However, I had the pleasure of interviewing Niall for his outgoing feature on P5 and it was lovely hearing about how much he loves the people and UoR staff too. Not to mention all the exciting things he’s been involved in during his time as Education Officer. That said, it was lovely to properly meet our new Ed Officer Ed. Yes, his name says it all – he was meant for this role! Welcome Ed to the Academic Rep team and thank you for all your hard work in both School Rep training days this year. Check out some of the pics on P10&11 – some very interesting conversations came up. Plus, we had a blast! Thanks to all who attended.


Your Say Star Letter

Check out what other reps are saying about their experiences and share your stories with us by getting in touch

You Love being a Rep because…

I feel that the training day was very good and the meetings that I was able to attend were very helpful in making me realise what other issues the school was facing. Getting involved in representation gave me the chance to pass on a few issues that my course mates had. It’s something I would like to do again next year but will endeavour to put more effort in and will hopefully be able to attend more meetings. It has made me want to help out a lot more in any way that I can, and to become more involved in the University in my final year. Anon. Feedback from the Impact Survey 2017

“It has improved my confidence and my ability to talk to people I don’t know. It has been great for me as a person with anxiety, as I now don’t get as anxious around new people and in social situations anymore.”


~ Anon. Feedback from the Impact Survey 2017

“Being a rep has made me aware that the University does care and is open to change. Also it familiarised me with a committee environment.”

……………………… “I’ve realised I’m the go-to person to signpost students to the right services that the University or RUSU has to offer.”

……………………… “I’ve had lots of support from everyone, it has definitely improved my communication and interpersonal skills.”


GET IN TOUCH academicreps @rusu.co.uk

WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR NEWS AND VIEWS Facebook.com/Acade micRepresentation

@RUSU acadmicrep

RUSU, Whiteknights, Reading, RG66AZ www.rusu.co.uk

„The Union changes students‟ lives every day. It changed my life, so it can change your life!‟

Check out Niall talking to us on camera at RUSU Vids on YouTube http://bit.ly/2rTVV65

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST BIT OF BEING EDUCATION OFFICER? I think the best bit has been the opportunity to work in such an amazing organisation, being able to work representing students, having students as your bosses and hearing about the amazing, creative things that students get up to every single day! And having the privilege of being able to work for them is the best thing. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST HIGHLIGHT? Of course there were things that we did as a team but for me it was going to National Conference and getting to speak in front of thousands of people, representing Reading. It’s weird because before I ran for election, I’d never done any public speaking, I wasn’t particularly outgoing, in fact I was quite shy (believe it or not). I was president of my Biology society and I did hustings for that, but other than that, I had never spoken to a room of more than about thirty people. But during campaigns week we had to get out there and speak to students, and

then I walked into a Palmer lecture Monday morning, the first day of campaign week and spoke in front of four-hundred people! Doing this job, I’ve spoken in front of thousands of people now, debated people and having that opportunity to do those sorts of things has been my highlight.

“There‟s never a bad day at work because it‟s so inspiring to be able to work for students.” WHO’S BEEN MOST INSPIRATIONAL TO YOU? There’s three teams who I think do an amazing job at the University and are somewhat overlooked. Two of them work behind the scenes – the Teaching and Learning Deans, who live and breathe teaching and learning and they sit on an.

incredible amount of committees They’re really innovative and are always trying to make teaching and learning great for students. CQSD (Centre of Quality Support and Development) which are the powerhouse behind this University. They make sure everything’s running in terms of education; they monitor things making sure timetabling is done, making sure that your curriculum is relevant, making sure your teachers are trained and rewarded. They do a huge amount of work and this University would not be as good as it is without the amazing team there. Then the last one is Careers. They’re so switched on and they know exactly what students want. They put on some amazing events, like LinkedIn workshops and they’re really honest about the labour market.

DO YOU HAVE AN EDUCATION HERO? The Education Officer at Swansea, Robiu. Doing this job you have loads of conferences and you


“The privilege of being in this position is so worth it.”

meet lots of people in similar positions to you in Universities up and down the country. Robiu was the first person I met because he did a conference that my predecessor, Sara ran and I met him there two years ago today I assume! It was a really interesting conference about the BME attainment gap and he had just won NUS’s Black Student Campaigner of the Year. I got to know him and he was saying he was going to be Education Officer at Swansea. He was nervous but I thought he was so amazing having just delivered a great speech! We’ve stayed in contact the whole way through there’s a lot of us that have and it’s nice as it’s like a little community. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING IN A STUDENTS’ UNION? It’s so much fun, I love it. It’s a very relaxed environment and students are at the heart of what everyone focusses on, so that’s very obvious. It’s a very open workplace. The Union changes students’ lives every day and there’s always something to get involved in.

ANY CHALLENGES? Accountability is a challenge. Normally people go into jobs

and they have a manager and it’s quite clear who they’re responsible to, so I think the challenge is working as an elected official. It’s a unique position that you don’t really get the opportunity to prep for other than running as an Academic Rep. The way accountability works at the University is different. For us it tends to happen on a Saturday night in Union! But it’s an amazing opportunity and to say that your biggest issue is people wanting to speak to you about your work, then really it’s an amazing privilege.

“All of my friends are students so I work for all of my friends effectively.”

So there was a bit of a cause behind it but the whole day was so fun and it ended with fireworks! And, something that’s not as obvious to students, is that a lot of the work that we do as officers isn’t done in silos – we do work on the large campaigns altogether and I think that’s really important. I’ve been lucky to work with two amazing teams so it’s been really interesting not just doing the education stuff but doing things with the Activities and Diversity Officers. The new team is looking amazing and Ed’s going to be brilliant. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOU? The whole experience has changed my life and so I’ll always feel sad to leave it but I think I’m ready to move on now. I’m currently applying for jobs, so if anyone is hiring out there (laughs). I’m a big activist campaigner for social justice (which I think people know), so I’d love to work for a charity that has that at the heart of what they do. I’m fascinated when people volunteer their time to make society better and I’d like to be in the centre of that good work.

HAVE YOU HAD A FAVOURITE CAMPAIGN? Everyone loves RUSU Says Relax but my favourite one was Breaking down Barriers – it was a day last year where we got all the societies together and we made them switch roles. So we had rubgy players doing ballet and we had American football doing the cheerleading – it was really hysterical! Then we had this big discussion about lad culture on campus and the effects of that.


What‟s on? Welcome Week Come and meet your School Reps during welcome week at the GIVE IT A GO FAIRS on: Tuesday 19th September Wednesday 20th September Thursday 21st September

Save the date Calling all School Reps! We have organised a third School Rep Training session on Wednesday 27th September for all who couldn’t attend in May. It will be held in the RUSU Boardroom from 1-3pm, where School Reps will get the chance to meet their School Rep peers and find out all about the role. A buffet lunch will be provided! ALSO we will be holding Chair Training for all School Reps on Tuesday 24th October from 2-3pm in the RUSU Boardroom.

Monday 19th June – new Full Time Officers start!

Course Rep Elections

Don‟t forget to vote and have your say in the General election on June 8th

2016/17 Academic Rep Survey Results

The Academic Rep team conducted a survey this Spring to find out about your experiences as reps. With a record number of responses (tripling from last year’s survey results!), we’re so excited to now be using your feedback for promotion and to shape our future projects. Thank you so much to everyone who filled it in! We now have such a great wealth of data to help us continue to improve the rep system. Here’s some of our discoveries from the survey...

“I have found out how a University department runs itself and gained a clearer image as to the functions and roles different staff carry out, and the lengths they go to improve the learning experience for students. It was a really eye-opening experience to view the University from the staffs point of view” Anon.




“Being a rep has helped me grow as a person and made me realise that even small efforts are valuable to others in ways I would have not thought previously” Anon.


“I feel my confidence has grown over this year. I have been involved in a variety of events which have had a positive impact upon my cohort and I feel these transferable skills (organisation and timemanagement) will give me an edge when seeking employment” Anon.

School Rep Training – two days, 12 students and tonnes of fun! It took three weeks to organise and amid powerpoint changes, scrapped activities and re-designed plans, we worked out a fool-proof formula for delivering the School Rep training this year. Two sessions of two hours ran over two consecutive days, and in short, the training ran smoothly and feedback forms were overall very positive. Seven of our stellar School Reps made the first session energetic and fun as we discussed RUSU as an organisation, the Full Time Officers and the Education Officer’s vital role working with School Reps. In between activities we debated the role of the School Rep and role-played scenarios surrounding diversity and inclusion. In the second session four of our reps got competitive in a fun game of Articulate, which led to talks around communication and leadership, while a special committees speech from Academic Rep Manager, Victoria, cleared up any jargon concerns.

Your School Reps 2017 Arts and Communication Design School Rep: Theodosis Demetriou Humanities School Rep: Nick Jenkins Literature and Languages School Rep: Molli Cleaver Politics, Economics & Intl. Relations School Rep: Dimitra Louka Institute Of Education School Rep: Lillie-Mae Firmin Law School Rep: Beth Parker Henley Business School Reps: Thomas Lee, Neal Abdool, Roger De Labauve D'Arifat Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy School Rep: Zoe James Mathematical, Physical & Computer Sciences School Rep: Effy Hopkins Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science School Rep: James Day Agriculture, Policy & Development School Rep: Adrienne Bowes - Taylor Biological Sciences School Rep: Kyle Smith Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences School Rep: Harrison Ward Built Environment School Rep: Matt Saunders


School Rep Training – two days, 12 students and tonnes of fun!

Confidential | Independent | Free


800 Whether you are an undergrad, postgrad, from UK or overseas, straight out of college or returning to study, RUSU can provide advice services tailored to meet your specific needs and help guide you through any issues you may face while at University. We know University can be a fantastic experience for most but there are also stressful times. From your first term, to exam periods and right through to your final days on campus, the Advice Service is here to listen and assist.

We are a free, confidential and independent service available to all students at Reading University, even if they are suspended or disengaged. We have a team of highly trained professional advisers who offer non-judgemental, independent advice in confidential meeting rooms.

AQS The RUSU Advice Service gained the Advice Service Alliance’s Advice Quality Standard(AQS) IN 2013. In 2015, we went through the re-accreditation process and were successful. The AQS Auditor stated: “There is an impressive number of Areas of Good Practice, where the RUSU Advice Service has exceeded the requirements of the AQS to a significant extent”.

Cases opened so far in 2017


Gained back for students last year

No information will be shared with the University or anyone else without permission. Reception will never ask a student to disclose their issue in a public space, students just need to ask to speak with an adviser. So, if you are seeking advice or think you want to chat to an independent professional, please get in touch. Find us located in the Students Union. There is a daily drop in during term time where students can just turn up or email advice@rusu.co.uk

“I felt overwhelmed with the next steps to make a decision but I was supported and felt confident enough to move forward with the help and guidance provided by the RUSU Advice team.” Undergraduate Student, 2017


Confidential | Independent | Free


Academic support

Housing support

• • • • • •

• • • • • • • •

Extenuating circumstances Appeals complaints Disciplinary cases Fitness to study Fitness to practice Supervision

Money • • • • • • • •

Student funding Credit and Debt Hardship Welfare Benefits Tax National Insurance Banking Consumer Money Management

"Not only did the Adviser tell me what my options were, she also helped me with the phrasing of my complaint letter, gave me a support letter from the union to endorse my case with council tax, and emailed me regularly to follow up on the issue. I felt professionally supported” Postgraduate Student, 2016

Contract checks Deposits Eviction Disrepair Housemates Landlords Utility bills Rent arrears

Drug & Alcohol support IRiS are the drug and alcohol treatment provider for Reading and they run drop-ins within the RUSU Advice Service https://www.rusu.co.uk/advice/dru gandalcoholadvice/

"A positive and fruitful advice process. I would say 'friendly' but with the necessary and appropriate professional boundaries in place as one would expect." Postgraduate Student, 2016

Did you know?

“I'm very grateful for the service offered - I felt supported without any sense of judgement.” International Student, 2017

We attended 128 Academic appeals with UOR students in 2016

Visit us at the Students’ Union, without appointment: Monday - Friday 11.00am –1:30pm Wednesday 2.00pm – 4.30pm

Contact us at: advice@rusu.co.uk 01183784100


‘I have not failed, I’ve just found 10000 ways it won’t work’ ~ Thomas Edison

Sharing a coffee with… Sed Joshi Morning or Evening? Evening Summer or Winter? Summer Mountains or Beach? Beach Kittens or Puppies? BOTH Give me them all! Netflix or Nightout? Nightout then Netflix… Tea or Coffee? Depends on the time By train or by plane? Whichever is cheapest Essay or Presentation? Presentation Mojos or Mondial? Mojos

Biggest daily inspiration... The Queen B herself… Obviously, there’s no-one else I listen to in the morning! My friends would describe me as... Giggly, I just love to laugh and be happy, chilled and easy going. Most inspiring read…I am Malala, she got shot by the Taliban for standing up for Women’s Education.

Soundtrack to my life... Loud Places - Jamie xx Pet peeve People eating food off your plate without asking… I see you Guilty pleasure One Direction and Little Mix, although I’m not even ashamed. What are you looking forward to? Starting my grad scheme and partying over the summer. Which famous person from the past would you share a coffee with? Gandhi, kinda obvious I guess but like come on!

My main goal for the next 5 years is…Get rich and see the beautiful world! What is your biggest achievement? Graduating with a 2:1. I was as shocked as everyone else.

PSST… I only have three unions left before I (finally) leave Reading. Make sure you find me on the dance floor, or at the front of summer ball! www.rusu.co.uk/ents

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The reading rep issue 9  

The reading rep issue 9  

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