If you want to get a broader understanding of how universities work, have ideas for improvement, and are a good communicator, then you might be interested in becoming a Student Representative.
Student Representatives (or ‘Reps’) gather views from fellow students on various aspects of studies and University life in general. They communicate this feedback to staff members, suggest solutions, and where possible, work together with staff to bring about change.
There are various Student Rep roles within the University, but at the School of Physics and Astronomy we work closely with Programme Reps (we aim to appoint at least one for each year of each of our degree programmes) and the School Rep.
Our Reps gather feedback from peers, raise them at meetings (of which there are 4 during the year) then feedback to peers following the meetings. Discussions cover areas such as course/programme issues, teaching methods, assessment procedures, facilities, and resources.
All Reps are required to attend a training session which guide students through how the Student Rep system works.
We caught up with Netra Gourlay who was elected School Rep last year, and Programme Rep for the Mathematical Physics degree the previous year, and asked her a few questions about her roles:
What skills are key to the role of Programme Rep?
The main one is communicating and speaking in public, and trying to convey in a short amount of time your ideas and why they are good and should be implemented. During meetings with other Programme Reps, we had to discuss which issues were most important in order that they received prominence at meetings. Another skill is to be inquisitive. Sometimes you will send an email to peers but don’t get a response. Sometimes people won’t want to raise something because they think nothing will get done, so insisting enough and also giving feedback on what has been done in the past, is useful. It is therefore important that Reps feedback, as this will encourage more students to raise issues.
Why did you put yourself forward to become School Rep?
I enjoyed being Mathematical Physics Rep when I was in year 3. It gave me a lot of skills. It created a sense of community within my class. I learned more about the School and got the opportunity to meet staff in a different setting. So in 4th year I decided to go a bit further and become School Rep.
Tells us about your role as School Rep
During this role I met people from across the university, and developed a greater understanding of how the University works. Attending the School Rep Forum was my favourite part of the role. For example we had discussions on the differences on giving feedback on assignments. It is quite a different role, to that of Programme Rep, but something which I learned a lot form, and it was valuable to know that I was helping contribute to making a positive change.
For more information on the role of Programme Rep and School Rep, visit: