For the past two years, I have been involved with academic representation and It has been an interesting experience so far. I started off as a course rep in my first year and decided to take a step further this year by nominating myself for department rep.
Academic representation is one of those topics that I can’t help but talk a lot about with my friends. I love being a course and department rep but things aren’t always great. Truth be told, there are times I feel disappointed about the way in which both staff and students handle different issues, at the same time, there are other days that people surprise me with how much effort they put in a project or event. It is on those days that I remember why I love being a course rep when I am surrounded by people who truly care about improving the student experience. I’d like to think that other reps are equally invested in this but the sad truth is that most only care about getting their HEAR accreditation. There are, however, those that care about improving the student experience and its due to their existence that I can tolerate the others. I guess you need a balance, you can’t have the yin without the yang after all. It is what it is.
There are also those that can’t help but get themselves involved in different projects or as I like to call them, extracurricular addicts; I am officially self-identifying. I can’t help but be drawn to the various opportunities at the university. It is the reason why my friends didn’t bother coming with me to the fresher’s fair as I tend to spend a lot of time signing up to various societies. In my first year, I ended up signing up to six different societies. If you organise yourself, you can attend all the important events and still find time for everything else. I know that now. The challenge back then was to find people to join me. Luckily, there were others just like me and I met most of them during an academic rep related activity/event.
Being in academic rep is a great opportunity if you are a curious, inquisitive, proactive student where the idea of chasing down people doesn’t deter you from achieving your objective. However, most students do not want to spend their time chasing members of staff or volunteering and that is okay because that is why we are here for. The role involves taking that burden from the students and represent them to the best of our ability. The question of whether some course reps do their job is a different matter altogether. I could write a book about this whole experience but whether you would find it interesting enough to read it, that is another story; I am sticking with this post instead.
This year there was a lot of emphasis on the National Student Survey (NSS) and student engagement. It was interesting to learn more about the whole process. One of the things that I appreciate about being a course rep is the fact that you become aware of what is happening and what the students’ union is working on. You start to understand why the university and the student’s union do certain things and the different ways in which they try and engage with students. The constant reminder of being in a safe environment is another aspect that I greatly appreciated during the training sessions in my first year.
I enjoy working with both staff and students (even if there are days that I feel disappointed and annoyed at some of them) but the best part is seeing the massive improvement that the SU has made with academic representation. It’s not perfect but the commitment and dedication that I have seen from our Academic Development Coordinator to improve the whole process has been both inspiring and greatly appreciated. I have a feeling that by the time I come back from my year abroad a lot will have changed, hopefully for the better.
Like always, thank you for taking the time to read my post and feel free share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Until next time,