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The information below outlines key considerations for the year ahead. This is aimed at staff who are familiar with working with Academic Reps and who need only a digest of changes, tweaks, and requests for the year ahead.

Promoting the role

There was relatively little uptake of our induction video, which is for use during induction talks last year – please do add this to the schedules and get students thinking about the role early on.

SSCC Dates & Scheduling

From this year, in consultation with the Student Academic Representation Steering Group, we are now asking departments, where possible, not to schedule SSCCs prior to 1 November. This is to ensure new Academic Reps have the time to attend training and think about their upcoming SSCCs in advance. The most common source of negative student feedback we receive from Academic Reps is about SSCCs which are scheduled too early, before they have gotten to grips with their role.

We understand that SSCCs in some areas are scheduled in October in part to ensure undergraduate students can help to finalise the ASER Action Plan. A full meeting of the SSCC is not required to ensure this requirement is met; informal meetings with reps, or even wider groups of students, can fulfil this requirement. The final SSCC meeting of the preceding Academic Session can also be used to establish themes and actions for the upcoming ASER, and is a good way of demonstrating to students that their feedback over the year has informed future work.

Appointing of Representatives

One of the aims of policy on Student Academic Representation is to ensure that greater numbers of students are elected to their representative role. This helps to raise awareness of the role early amongst students, and helps provide the role with some prestige which assists students who take it up.

Whilst we understand this is not always possible, there are two simple steps which will help substantially:

  • Ensuring that the deadline for students to express interest is early enough to allow time to hold a poll on moodle or opinio if there are more students interested than roles available.
  • Not appointing excessive numbers of representatives, which sends a message that the role is unimportant. Our recommendation is approximately one representative for every 30 students in each cohort of each programme. This is not a rigid rule, but equally, we do not expect to see four or five representatives for cohorts of 20-30 students. Your SSCC can even be open to all students to attend, if desired, but this does not require having lots and lots of representatives with specific responsibility to work with staff and understand the views of their peers.

Appointing Lead Department Representatives

During the first year of this role, we did not specify a particular method of appointment, as it was most important to ensure someone was in post and the role became established.

In consultation with Lead Department Representatives and staff, we now recommend that the role should be filled by the representatives for the relevant SSCC choosing from amongst themselves, either by consensus, or with a small election if there is more than one student interested. Departments are welcome to go beyond this if preferred, either by making the role open to all students (not just existing academic reps), allowing all students to vote, or both. Our recommendation aims to strike a balance between accountability for students taking up the role, and efficiency.

Please do note that for the role to work effectively, it should be filled in time to give the Lead Department Representative time to plan the agenda of the first SSCC with their Co-Chair.

Academic Rep Training

Please do remember to encourage your newly appointed Academic Reps to attend training once they are appointed. They will receive an email from us with information within a day or two of us receiving their details. Reps are much more likely to attend training if this is encouraged by their department.

Training is a key part of their role, and should assist the department by ensuring students have a good understanding of what they need to do. We do not provide recognition, HEAR accreditation, or referencing for Academic Reps who have not attended training. The proportion of Academic Representatives trained is also a Key Performance Indicator in UCL’s Education Strategy 2016-21.

This year we are running separate training sessions for Course Representatives, Research Student Representatives, and Lead Department Representatives.