Student course representatives have been given greater responsibilities and clearer duties after a system overhaul this year.
The established setup of previous years has been replaced with a more streamlined version. Updating the old course rep system to a more efficient structure of department representatives will bring the views of the student body to the University staff in a quicker and proactive manner.
LUSU VP (Academic Affairs) Danny Ovens, who has implemented the changes, hopes that it will encourage students to stay in touch with their departments. Reaffirming that the reps’ responsibility is to accurately relay what they hear from their peers, he commented: “Students really need to know who their reps are and actually use them.”
The main changes in reviewing the system involve a downsizing of the reps across the University. A reduction from around 270 reps last academic year to an efficient 190 has been made possible by simplifying their duties and giving them direct purpose. Whereas students used to be elected for all course modules regardless of their duration, now there will be only a few students from each year group elected to represent the department.
Saoirse Crean, in her second year representing art students, noted that though the old system worked well for her thanks to the small size of her department others may have struggled with a larger body of students to represent. Encouragingly, grievances she aired last year have been acted upon, and art students have actively sought her out already this year due to other changes. She supported students’ increased action while noting that the reps have to be sociable, saying “I think it’s important that people know who their student rep is so they feel okay approaching them, especially for bigger departments.”
A change made by the Academic Council to a bylaw also means that there will be a lot more communication with the Student Union. Policy decisions made at the Council will now carry direct student input from the reps as approximately eighteen seats will be reserved for selected department representatives. Ovens has stressed that this additional avenue of voicing concerns or views outside collegiate or society routes relies upon “the reps to feedback any important information.”
With this in mind, the new system has been engineered to directly promote activism from the elected reps. With fewer people to organise LUSU will be able to react quickly to any feedback received, and reps are given more proportional responsibility making it less likely for them to fall into complacency or inactivity within their remit. A reward system has also been set up by Ovens to congratulate those who make the most effort on behalf of their student peers.
The message being sent by LUSU through these changes is one of endorsed activism. With a better representation now available to them, LUSU hopes that students will increase their feedback and opinions, letting the faculties and University grasp what it needs to improve for the student body.