The notability of the role of Course Reps has come to light after various students claimed they knew little about the role. Nouse has received reports from various students across year groups who were not aware of their Rep’s identity: a third year English student revealed she was unaware of the identity of her Course Rep until after two months of their being close friends, while second year students studying PPE and History bemoaned they were unaware who their Reps are. Arguably, this is a trend indicative of the larger student body.
One ex-Course Rep told Nouse that the role was loose in its responsibilities, and that they were never certain what Course Reps had to actually do. Another complained that they only spoke to the head of department three times a year, and while they said the role works the change from feedback takes too long to occur.
While largely highlighting the strengths the role, Edward Whyte, a TFTV Course Rep last academic year, outlined some problems: “Course Reps can be effective in implementing change because of the direct point of contact the role provides… the main issue with the Course Rep system however is how the role is interpreted and carried out on [certain] courses. This can depend on the size of the course or how the department operates on a higher managerial level. In terms of TFTV, the Board of Studies and the Department value immensely the contributions and feedback provided by Course Reps and students.”
YUSU Academic Officer Julian Porch defended the role of Course Reps: “Our full review of rep elections will be towards the end of term but our immediate priority is to get the newly elected reps trained and delivering for students on their course as quickly as possible. We have already trained over 220 of the new reps with more training scheduled.
“We have been prioritising [academic representation] in recent years, resulting in academic reps last year creating new study groups, agreeing changes to feedback systems, increasing the use of lecture capture, securing new lab resources and much more.”
He concluded: “There is evidence of growing influence students have over their academic experience right now and we would encourage more students to engage in that.”
Professor John A Robinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students, commented to Nouse: “Course Reps are important to the partnership between the University and students in improving learning and teaching. They ensure that the student voice is heard in every degree course and department.”