Building communities online
Despite most learning at UCL being done from home this year, your Faculty Reps worked hard to keep students connected through groups on apps such as Whatsapp, Teams or WeChat, as well as arranging virtual social events for students to meet their peers and setting up regular events like weekly tea/coffee breaks where students could drop in, chat with other people on their course and discuss any problems they were having with their Academic Reps. Additional online events at especially intense times, such as Christmas or exam season, were also held to ensure that students did not feel too isolated or overwhelmed.
Setting up events
Conferences, talks and workshops play a huge role in enhancing your time at UCL, providing an opportunity to learn something new, develop additional skills and network with alumni and industry professionals for some extra career guidance. This year, the Academic Reps were consistently putting on events for students. A notable example was the work done by Faculty Reps to set up the first ever PGR Student Conference in the Faculty of Brain Sciences, a successful day conference with 59 research talks, set up with the support of a ChangeMakers grant.
The Students’ Union UCL Reps team have been hard at work ensuring that UCL is playing its part in stopping climate change in a variety of ways; the last year has seen the introduction of waste-free events in SU spaces and a shift from physical to digital brochures for clubs and societies, as well as ongoing lobbying to end UCL’s involvement in the fossil fuels trade.
Keeping UCL accessible and inclusive
The Reps are here to represent the interests of all students and ensure that UCL is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. This has seen our Academic Reps deal with problems students have had with inappropriate staff behaviour or comments in lectures, or preventing timetable clashes with religious celebrations, as one Faculty Rep did in getting exams rescheduled from Eid Al-Fitr. Meanwhile, our Sabbatical and Student Officers were busy working on projects such as securing a pledge from UCL to introduce more gender-neutral toilets or improving the provision of subtitles on lecture recordings.
Preventing any impediments to learning due to COVID-19
A major success by this years Reps was securing allowances from UCL to guarantee that students’ learning and examinations would not be negatively affected by the move to distance-learning and lack of in-person teaching, as well as the added pressure of studying during such an unusual and stressful period of time. The two biggest achievements of the Reps regarding this was in the implementation of the ‘No Detriment’ policy and the implementation of self-certified Extenuating Circumstances to alleviate some of the concerns of the student body. In addition to this, Academic Reps have been working hard across departments to ensure that teaching in this new environment remains fair and consistent; for example, the Laws Faculty Reps scored a win in getting changes to student workload made by collaborating with the department’s staff based on student feedback.
Defending the rights of students on placements
Reps play an important role in ensuring the rights and fair treatment of students who are taking up placements as a part of their course, something which was especially relevant this year as many students were working on the frontline of the fight against COVID in hospitals. Reps in the UCL Medical School were able to ensure that students were fully aware of timetables and working arrangements, as well as lobbying to ensure that meetings and decision-making processes were as transparent as possible via regular updates to students.