Aimee Cole – Year 2 Rep Best Course Rep Health and Life Sciences
Whilst I enjoyed the first year of my degree, I left for summer unable to count the number of conversations I had had, in which, serious concerns about teaching and learning, resources, and feedback on our course had been raised. By this I don’t mean the daily ‘I don’t want to go to uni today’ conversations, but real frustration and concern about the experience students were receiving. I had also lost count of the number of Skype calls I had made to friends and family to vent frustration and see nothing change. For this reason, after being involved in similar committees previously, I decided I should try to bring some of these issues to light so we could begin to feel more proud about being a Psychology student at the University of Liverpool.
After being elected, I was concerned about the amount of time the role would take up. In actual fact, it’s an hour here and there. There are three Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC) meetings a year and they last up to two hours. The meetings are terrifying and interesting, all at the same time. Walking into a room full of staff, academics, and students is daunting. It’s a good experience but it’s not something I’ve yet got used to.
The job of a course rep is- clichéd as it sounds- to be the ‘voice of the students’ on your course and take any issues with teaching, resources, modules, organisation and general running of the course to the people who can do something about itAt times, 2nd years have provided a long list of issues. It can be difficult presenting problems without feeling you’re being unfair or misrepresentative. It’s also not easy trying to be positive when actually, you don’t feel there is much to be positive about. However, it is rewarding when you can see that issues being addressed.
Recently, lots of ears have been made available and it’s been really good to be able to say to fellow students “don’t fear, something is being done to make this better”. As a result of some of the concerns raised changes are being put in place both for other years and for our own. I am confident things will improve. For instance, issues about feedback were raised. Students constantly commented about an inconsistency with marking, the level of comments they received and a lack of clear guidance about how they should improve. Focus groups were held regarding the issues and it is being looked into.
My advice for anyone taking on the role is to make sure you’re visible and make sure you report back to the students on the course so they know you’ve listened to what they’ve said and have reported concerns to the appropriate people. In short to let them know you’re doing what you’re supposed to.
Another point is to make sure the comments you take to SSLC meetings represent general consensus and is not the feeling simply amongst your friends who might happen not to like one module in particular for no real reason. Finally, make sure you’re a positive member of the committee too. Whilst you may have discovered the issues with the course, there will be some elements of good practice and it is essential that you bring such instances to the attention of the committee. If no one knows what students like and appreciate, it will not be further implemented.
A contribution by Aimee Cole, UoL, for PsychLiverpool.