12 Jun 2012

SPOTLIGHT ON... The University of the West of Scotland - good practice to make your student-staff liaison meetings or equivalent more effective

As a result of a review of Student-Staff Liaison Groups (SSLGs), UWS recognised that students should be leading and chairing all of the meetings. In order for these meetings to be a success, both the students’ association and the university will be offering more support, and the student representative training will be revised to include agenda setting and chairing meetings to give student representatives more confidence.

The remit of the SSLGs has been changed to reflect the diversity within UWS. The remit has been slimmed down to be less stringent and more related to the Student Learning Experience as defined by sparqs. There are several elements of the Student Learning Experience, which are currently highlighted in the course representative training provided by sparqs, including the curriculum, learning and teaching process, assessment and feedback, guidance and support, and quality assurance and enhancement. These are the areas that the SSLG meetings will focus on in the future. Additionally, reporting lines for the groups have been strengthened and a ‘you said we did’ section of meetings will be included as standard as this was recognised as good practice. A considerable number of other areas of good practice were also identified, with almost all participating students finding SSLGs to be effective. Continuity of student membership has also been addressed with progression opportunities available within the faculty structure. All of these changes are designed to create and sustain a ‘student-led’ approach to SSLGs.

The review was carried out by a sub-group of the Student Experience Group (SEG) as part of a review of the health of student engagement to assess the effectiveness of SSLGs and their impact on change within individual programmes and schools, the wider university and the student experience. The review group consisted of Vice-Chair of SEG, Heads of Schools, Head of Quality Enhancement Unit and representatives from the Students’ Association. They looked at a number of areas including recruitment and training of student reps through to the operation and impact of SSLGs. A number of activities were carried out to aid this which included a review of all minutes of the groups’ meetings, discussion forums with SSLG members and Students’ Council members.

Due to the variation in practice the group found that a ‘one size fits all’ model would not be appropriate for UWS and recommended that the reviewed remit for SSLGs should be used as general guidelines to be followed to accommodate this variation without stifling good practice or developments.

Over the course of the next academic year the Students’ Association and the university will work to strengthen the support to student reps in creating change, through the changes in training mentioned above. Additional support will be provided to staff members with responsibility for student engagement in academic committees at both school and faculty level, to increase the continuity of support given to our student representatives.

For further information contact Claire Lumsden, Student Representation Co-ordinator, University of West Scotland Students’ Association src@sauws.org.uk

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