Academic Standards and Quality

Student Representatives Policy 

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Student representatives[1] are part of the first and largest tier of the representation system provided by the Studentsí Union and the University of Essex. Student representatives feed-back directly to University staff on academic issues, typically through Student Voice Groups (SVGs) - formerly known as Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs) - ensuring that the University maintains its commitment to the assurance and enhancement of its education provision and the promotion and protection of student welfare.

This policy sets out the Universityís approach, in conjunction with the Studentsí Union, to the management and oversight of the Student Representative system, including the purpose of the Student Representative roles, how Representatives are selected and the roles and responsibilities of all key stakeholders.

[1] For the purposes of this policy, Student Representative is used to refer to any student undertaking a representative role on behalf of other students. The terms Course and Year Representative refer to departmental-level representation, typically representing a specified constituency of students.

Guiding Principles of the Student Representation system

  • Accountability:  Student Representatives are responsible to the students they have chosen to represent (see Sections 4 and 5).
  • Consultation:  Student Representatives must keep their own views aside and gather collective views (positive and areas to improve), by talking and listening to students, to present to the University, which would avoid any assumptions made about the student opinion (and experience).
  • Communication:  Student Representatives must close the feedback loop by communicating information back to the student body; letting peers know what action has been taken with their feedback; using efficient communication channels to contact students, e.g. Social Media, emails, Departmental notice boards etc.
  • Engagement:  Student Representatives should act as the links between the wider student body, Studentsí Union, Academic Departments and the University. Student Representatives should promote the different student feedback mechanisms and have a good working knowledge of the support structure available to students. It is important the Student Representatives are engaged with any representation and democracy activities provided by the Studentsí Union and/or the University.
  • Signposting:  Student Representatives might be the first point of contact for students with issues or concerns or general enquires therefore must be aware of general departmental, University and Studentsí Union information to signpost students to appropriate areas (especially when dealing with personal queries).
  • Sustainability:  Student Representatives must maintain an effective and sustainable representation system by promoting themselves and their role for the entire academic year. The Studentsí Union, in conjunction with departments, will widely publicise the opportunity to become a student representative at the beginning of each academic year in order to get more students involved in representation, engagement and impact.

Partnership between the University and the Students' Union

The Student Representative system is built on the key principle of partnership between the University and Studentsí Union. In practice, this partnership is delivered in a number of ways:

  • The information that the Student Representatives provide through SVGs (and other platforms) feed into the University and Studentsí Unionís decision-making structures to enable discussion of key issues at higher levels within both bodies.

  • The Studentsí Union, University and Departments work in collaboration for the training programme for Student Representatives, including a session on University academic and corporate governance, a session on how to collect feedback effectively, and a session on key contact points within their Departments.

  • The relevant University and Studentsí Union bodies ensure that issues are captured effectively to support the regular review of the Student Representative system and this policy.

  • The Studentsí Union provides student representatives for appropriate committees and working groups.

  • The appropriate bodies of the Studentsí Union are made aware in advance of any event, the dates of any appropriate committees and working groups so that suitable student representatives may be provided.

Selection of student representatives

The process for selecting Student Representatives is based on the principles of fairness, openness and transparency as described below:

  • The opportunity to act as a student representative is advertised to all students through the Studentsí Union and departments from the start of the academic year. Departments will work proactively with the Studentsí Union to promote the opportunity and responsibility that comes with being a student representative.
  • Students indicate their interest in the role to the Studentsí Union by the end of week 3.
  • Should the departments receive any applications, the departments should forward any details on to the Students' Union by the end of week 3.
  • If no students have expressed an interest to act as student representatives in a department by week 3, then departments in partnership with the Students' Union will support and oversee the selection process.
  • All Student representatives will attend training for their role, shortly after week 3. Upon completion of the training, prospective students representatives will have to complete a Moodle course after which point they will all be eligible to act as Student Representatives, to represent students at departmental meetings and activities (such as Periodic Reviews).

Roles and responsibilities

The Studentsí Union, University and departments value the representation of students at all levels of University study to ensure that the University works in the best interest of students. In order to achieve effective student representation, the following expectations are made of students who choose to act as student representatives.

Student Representatives

There are a variety of different roles that can be undertaken as a Student Representative, including roles directly supporting the Student Parliament. The Student Representatives Policy lists and defines the different positions that students can represent in. Student Representatives, when formally expressing an interest in the role, should appreciate the importance and the time needed to undertake the role effectively.

  • Student Representatives should attend all mandatory training to ensure that they are prepared for the role
    • participate in departmental meetings and other related activities. 
  • Student Representatives should prepare for the appropriate meetings that they are required to attend by gathering any student feedback required:
    • Student representatives to gather feedback from students on their course and from students in their department as a whole.
    • Senior Representatives to gather information from the Student Representatives
    • Student Representatives and Senior Representatives are to feedback through departmental and Faculty Structures. They should also provide feedback to appropriate Student Union Bodies when required.
  • Student Representatives should feedback to students in their department
  • Student Representatives should attend all meetings expected of the student representative's role. If the student representative is unable to attend for any reason, it is expected that they would contact and arrange for an appropriate student representative to take their place.
  • If the Student Representative feels they can no longer fulfil the role, they should inform the department and Students' Union.
  • If a Student Representative fails to meet the requirements of the role, they may be removed and a replacement sought by the Department in cooperation with the Students' Union.
    • The Students' Union and Department will agree mechanisms by which Student Representatives performance will be assessed to ensure that every representative is achieving their full potential within the role. This mechanism will be reviewed annually.
Academic Departments, Schools and Centres
  • Time: Departments should allow time for student representatives to meet and canvas the wider student body in order to accumulate their views (or feedback to them). They should do this by releasing the dates of their SVGs either at the start of term one or at the start of each term to both the Students' Union and to the Student and Senior Representatives.
    • Departments should also allow time for Student Representatives to gather feedback with regards to any enhancement process by releasing the details of what will be discussed well in advance of any SVG. This information should be disseminated to both the Student Representatives and to the Studentsí Union.

  • Departmental Action and Feedback Departments will be approachable and receptive to the views of Student Representatives, and should encourage appropriate action in response to student feedback and to ensure that every task is allocated to a person and a deadline is set, against which the outcome can be measured. Where feedback is received outside of a SVG meeting, it should be noted in a SVG meeting to ensure the response is tracked. Departments should ensure that actions or outcomes arising from student feedback should be circulated, as a minimum to Student Reps, when the action is closed or outcome resolved.

  • Communication: Departments should aid student representatives with communication mechanisms to publicise any action and/or decision to students in the department through:
    • Emails, Departmental websites, Social media or online-forum or newsletters
    • Making announcements before or after lectures
    • Departmental notice boards
      • SVG meetings should be widely publicised by departments so that students have an opportunity to feedback to the Student Representatives any issues for discussion with the department.
Students' Union
  • Support: The student representatives are coordinated and supported by:
    • Vice President (Education): Full-time student representative with primary responsibility for all of the SUís work on matters relating to education along with providing advice and support to the Post-Graduate Officer and Faculty Convenors.
    • Post-Graduate Officer: Part-time position to ensure that PG studentsí views and requirements are met by working with Vice President (Education).
    • Faculty Convenors: Student Staff members who are the links between the Course Rep Assistant (Students' Union and VP Education.
    • Course Rep Assistant: Full-time SU support who is central to the administration of the representation system and providing advice to the student representatives on a range of issues.
  • Training: The Studentsí Union will provide an induction and training session in collaboration with the University and Departments normally between weeks 3 and 4. Additional training and development sessions will take place over the course of the academic year
  • Feedback: The Studentsí Union will actively consult student representatives for their views on the system so that they can raise issues and seek changes to the policy as appropriate.
  • Wider Issues: The Studentsí Union will coordinate the Student Representatives, when appropriate, to assist in canvassing opinion on academic issues which may be affecting a wider range of students across departments, the faculty or the University as a whole.


Student Voice (Student Representation) Policy (pdf)

The policy is reviewed annually by Senate and/or an appropriate Senate sub-committee to ensure it remains fit for purpose and continues to meet effectively the needs of students, the University and the Students' Union.

Date of Senate approval: July 2018 for this version. Next review date: July 2019


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Page last updated: 02 August 2019