Course reps usually engage with teaching staff. Senior student officers regularly speak to senior managers and sit on institution-wide committees. But what connects the two? What links the "front line" of learning and teaching with the strategic level? This is where universities' and colleges' departments come in. Usually known as faculties, schools or sections, departments are a way of gathering together similar subjects and managing their delivery in a coordinated way. In a typical university or college, there will be too many course reps for the senior students' association representatives to meet with and learn from on a regular basis. So the departmental level is also important for student representation.
Lead Reps is the term now being used by sparqs to identify the various levels of representation which exist (departmental, school, faculty, etc). The name also allows for reps to be seen as leaders in a community, with an emphasis on developing and advancing it.
In February 2012 we published the Toolkit on Developing Departmental Representation. In the time since,we have seen some institutions take up systems like these – and course rep systems have been added to with other tiers of representation.
The effect has been different in each institution and now is a good time to revise the guidance. Originally the focus was on building representative structures to represent better to higher levels. Perhaps now the focus could be on building representative structures which play a leading role for course reps.
During Autumn 2015 we began revisiting the Toolkit and exploring what experience there has been around the country. From these discussions we will write new guidance, with the aim of helping institutions decide what models work best for them and how they can encourage wider and more meaningful participation with course rep systems. If you would like to be involved in the working group set up to progress the toolkit review, please get in touch with David Scott.
The original toolkit can be downloaded below, and the resulting new materials following the ongoing review will be published here in due course.
For more information on any of the above, or if you would like to get involved in the working group, please contact David Scott.