Student Representation

Students on campusStudent representation is a key part of how we engage with students. The aim of the joint University/Newcastle University Students' Union Student Representation Policy is to ensure that every student is represented in institutional decision-making processes and that every student can contribute to the enhancement of their programme and learning experience.

Student-Staff Committees

Each School is required to have a minimum of one Student-Staff Committee (SSC), although there are often several of these in each School covering different programmes and stages. SSCs report to, and consider information received from, Boards of Studies or School postgraduate research committees. All Schools must have research student representation on their SSC(s). It is recommended, although not required, that separate SSCs are established for research postgraduate provision. For more information see the Constitution and Terms of Reference for SSCs.

A schedule of business and model agenda are available to assist SSCs in fulfilling their terms of reference. Newcastle University Students' union has also prepared a supporting document detailing examples of good practice for Staff Facilitators, who are looking to use their SSCs as a platform for making wider improvements in their academic units.

Student Representation Roles

Course Representatives: Each course/programme has a representative at the school or subject area’s SSC. The Student Chair and Student Secretary of SSCs are normally the student representatives on Boards of Studies.

Student Secretaries: Each SSC should have a Student Secretary, when student interest is expressed, who works with the Student Chair, organising meetings and communicating about the work of the SSC with the wider student cohort. If a student is not interested in this role, then it should be taken up by a member of staff.

Student Chairs: SSC meeting should be chaired by an elected Student Chair who leads the SSC agenda discussions, ensures all members have a fair opportunity to speak and that the SSC comes to appropriate decisions.

School Reps: Two School Reps, one to represent all undergraduate and postgraduate taught students, and one to represent all postgraduate research students, are appointed by NUSU as representatives at the relevant Faculty Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee or Graduate School Committee. A Roles and Responsibilities document is available to assist School Representatives.

Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) has a range of resources and training to support student representatives. Information about student representation can be found on the NUSU website; helpful staff-specific information is available too.

Supporting Student Representation

As staff there are a number of ways in which you can support and utilise student representation:

  • make sure new students know about the opportunities for making their voices heard during induction (NUSU will deliver representation induction talks), and returning students are updated on changes to student representation
  • offer mechanisms for course representatives to keep in touch with the students they represent; e.g. through lecture shout outs, access to email lists or Blackboard Communities, or posters
  • facilitate student elections - NUSU has produced a guide to electing representatives
  • encourage students to use the channels of representation - in tutorials you may suggest they use the SSC to provide ideas and feedback
  • consult reps when you are planning changes to modules or would like feedback on any aspect of your programme; course reps can assist getting student opinions
  • promote their achievements

Training

It is mandatory that all representatives attend NUSU training. Once they have been elected and before the first working day in November, it is essential that schools send NUSU the details of the representatives in their School using this spreadsheet. This should be completed and returned to NUSU by email to rdc.union@ncl.ac.uk. NUSU will then invite them to the relevant training.

Annual SSC Report

At the final SSC of the year, the Student Chair and Secretary, with the support of the Staff Facilitator, are responsible for writing and presenting the SSC Annual Report. This report compiles the key discussions and achievements from the SSC during the academic year and should be shared with current students, staff and NUSU. It also can be presented at the first SSC of the following year to introduce new members to previous discussions. A report template has been produced by NUSU and is available to download.

Reasons to Promote Student Representation

Most student representatives want to get involved to make a positive difference at the University and to meet student and staff in their academic unit and across the institution. However, several other incentives exist that may encourage involvement:

  • Student representatives can request a certificate, signed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching and the current NUSU Education Officer if they miss no more than one SSC meeting per year. Students can enquire about the record of attendance from NUSU by email to rdc.union@ncl.ac.uk.
  • NCL+ Award: in partnership with the Careers Service, the Students’ Union runs the NCL+ Award accreditation scheme. The purpose of this scheme is to provide student representatives (and all students completing extra-curricular activities) with the opportunity to gain official recognition on their University transcript (Higher Education Achievement Record). For more information about the NCL+ Award, head to the NCL+website.