Effective student representation is a vital part of our quality assurance and teaching and learning enhancement processes. This resource has been designed to provide information and guidance on student representation and how to create effective staff-student partnerships.
The resource will cover the various stages in a student representative's lifecycle. It aims to guide you through each step of the process, from promotion and recruitment, to training and supporting students to be the most effective in their role.
It is important that the student voice is heard at every SCQF level (FE through to postgraduate research) and mode of study.
By electing reps we are ensuring that students have someone who can communicate their views and experiences on their behalf, and who can work in partnership with staff to make change happen.
Watch this short explainer video to learn more about the role and the importance of reps.
This diagram shows the different student representation roles at the university and where class reps sit within the structure.
All roles are equally important in communicating student views. Information is two-way, from students passing on feedback about their learning experience, to student association officers communicating to the student body where changes are being implemented.
All staff should be available for students, reps and officers to report feedback to and for staff to communicate back to students.
Promoting the Role
This page will provide guidance on what you can do to promote the class rep role to your students.
When: beginning of term / induction period
Everyone should play a part in promoting the role to students to encourage involvement. HISA and Student Engagement teams will promote the role to students during Freshers events. PATs, PDAs and LDWs may encourage students to take on the role as part of supporting students' personal development.
As lecturers and tutors, you can also help to promote the role in the following ways:
The Recruitment Process
Programme/Course leaders have a responsibility to recruit reps following the promotion period. At some Academic Partners recruitment for FE courses may be the responsibility of the PATs, LDWs or PDAs. This page sets out guidance on the Recruitment Process.
When: during weeks 2-4 of teaching
All students should have the opportunity to volunteer for the role. Staff should invite students to nominate themselves. Students should not be coerced into the role or appointed without choice.
Depending on the level of interest, you may wish to consider appointing more than one rep for your course. Students can then split the workload and provide support to each other. It also ensures someone will fulfill the role if one rep decides to resign from the post during the year.
- If you fortunately find that more students volunteer than required it is important that students choose who represents them. You can decide this anonymously by holding a secret ballot using post-it notes, or use the voting buttons on outlook if students are in multiple locations.
- You should aim to have reps recruited by the end of September. However, if you have difficulty in recruiting students please contact HISA or Student Engagement/Quality staff at your Academic Partner who can help students to put themselves forward.
- If there is still no interest from students it is important that alternative methods for consulting, gathering feedback and feeding back to students is implemented. Ensure that students and Student Engagement/Quality staff at your Academic Partner are informed of the proposed alternative methods.
- Students may decide to come forward to be a rep later in the semester. This is fine (and good news!), just make sure to follow the recording process as set out on the next page.
- For January start courses the same recruitment process will apply.
- If you lead a networked or online programme it is important that you set up a system that works best for you and your students. See examples
Year Group reps: you can recruit a rep(s) for each year of the programme. The reps would therefore represent all students in their year, no matter where they are located.
Location reps: you can recruit a rep(s) to represent students at each location, or to cover multiple locations, of where students are enrolled. For example, you might recruit a rep for Inverness College who would represent all students at that location, no matter what year of study they are in. Similarly, you could recruit a rep for Orkney College who covers all students at Orkney and Shetland Colleges across all year groups.
Reps for joint courses: if your programme is part of a scheme of programmes, you may wish to recruit reps who cover all programmes under your leadership.
There may be other options that you find work well for you, or that you change the system each year depending on student numbers, where they are based and their needs etc. The most important thing is that whatever system is put in place that all students know who their reps are and how to contact them.
Recording your Reps
Once you have recruited your reps their details need to be recorded centrally. This page provides guidance on this stage of the process.
When: immediately after recruitment
Please follow these steps to ensure your class reps are recorded accurately:
- Collate your reps' details - name, student ID and year of study.
- Check the table below to identify the correct contact(s) to send details to.
- Email the contact(s) with your reps' details plus your course name and code.
- Should any reps be covering more than one class/course, please also include those details.
- If there are any changes throughout the year, e.g. reps resigning or new recruits, it is important that you alert your contact(s) to these changes.
|All networked and online programmes||Aimee Harvey; firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Argyll College UHI||
Helen McGuigan; email@example.com
|Department of Nursing and Midwifery||Aimee Harvey; firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Highland Theological College UHI||Kathryn Stewart; email@example.com|
|Inverness College UHI||HISA.Inverness@uhi.ac.uk|
|Lews Castle College UHI||
David Bell; firstname.lastname@example.org
Catriona Nicolson; email@example.com
|Moray College UHI||Joel Hockney; firstname.lastname@example.org|
|North Highland College UHI||Lindsay Henderson; email@example.com|
|Orkney College UHI||To be confirmed|
|Perth College UHI|
|Sabhal Mor Ostaig UHI||Eilidh NicPhàidein; firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Scottish Association of Marine Science UHI||Polly Crooks; email@example.com|
|Shetland College UHI and NAFC Marine Centre UHI||
Leanne Gear; firstname.lastname@example.org
Caroline Hepburn; email@example.com
|West Highland College UHI||
Lesley Hellon; firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrissy Harris; email@example.com
Robert Macleod; firstname.lastname@example.org
Reps are encouraged to undertake Introductory Class Rep Training to support them in their role. This training is developed by sparqs (the agency for Scotland's university and college sectors which supports student engagement in the quality of the learning experience). All Academic Partners have sparqs trained staff who deliver the training in partnership with HISA to class reps each year.
When: throughout term
Academic Partners will often run several training sessions. This offers flexibility to ensure that as many students as possible can get to a session.
An online version of the training is also available as a module in Brightspace. This was developed in order to meet the needs of our online and distance learning students, as well as for students who have been unable to attend a face-to-face training session due to other commitments.
We encourage all class reps to make use of the online training as a reference resource to refer to throughout their time as a rep to support them in their role. Staff can get access to the Brightspace module for information (instructions to follow).
Reps attending face-to-face training will be provided with a certificate of completion.
For those undertaking online training they will also receive a certificate but must complete a short quiz and evaluation to prompt a certificate to be issued.
Students who have been reps in previous years are welcome to attend face-to-face training should they wish to have a refresher but this will be the students' choice.
From 2019/20 completion of training will be recorded on students' records. This will help to identify if a student has completed training in a previous year.
Working with Reps
Teaching staff have a key role to play in working with reps and supporting them to carry out their role effectively. Reps are just volunteers after all and may need your help at times to keep them on the right track. This page sets out some useful tips for working with your reps, helping to create a positive experience for both students and staff.
When: throughout the year
This is really important where students are studying online or attending VC lectures as they won't have the same opportunity to meet each other face-to-face and are therefore not as visible to the students they are representing.
It also gives reps the opportunity to share ideas and solutions. Reps will benefit from the support of each other, but working together will also help to ensure consistency of messages and that
communication reaches all students on the programme/course. You can support reps to come together by introducing them to each other via email or through Brightspace.
Course Committees are an essential element of the university’s quality framework. Some Academic Partners and departments may refer to them by a different name or structure them in a different way so please check the format that you should follow with your Academic Partner Quality team.
Reps should be invited to attend Course Committee meetings, providing a great opportunity to hear directly from students on issues and to also seek their input on specific topics. What reps are required to do and think about before, during and after meetings is set out in their class rep training. In addition to this, you may wish to consider the following guidance to ensure that reps are fully engaged in the process and prepared for meetings.
When: at least once a semester
Circulate the Course Committee dates within a reasonable timescale to ensure reps know well in advance when a meeting is to take place. The more notice we give reps the more likely they will be able to attend.
Ensure that reps know how they can attend the meeting i.e. are there opportunities to attend by VC if they are unable to attend the meeting in person.
It is recommended that you meet with your reps informally (this may need to be online for some programmes) ahead of the first Course Committee meeting. This allows you to start the conversation with your reps, advise on any issues that have been raised previously and any changes that are currently being considered. This will help ensure your reps see you as approachable and keen to hear their feedback at any point in the year. It also provides an opportunity to inform them about the Course Committee and answer any questions they may have, making them feel more at ease about attending the meeting.
Sometimes reps may provide feedback that is not related to the learning and teaching experience of their course. This might be frustrating, but for students the distinction isn’t always clear. It’s therefore important to channel their feedback through such ways as signposting and providing reps with relevant contact details.
Ensure class reps are provided with an opportunity, and are encouraged, to contribute to discussions during the meeting. Encourage a partnership approach by looking to the students to bring forward ideas and solutions to issues being presented. Be open and frank about any barriers that may be faced. As a result meetings will be more positive and reps will find the experience more rewarding.
If you find that reps are not bringing feedback to your meetings you can encourage engagement by setting tasks for them. For example, if you are looking for specific feedback about a certain area of the course, or want to know more about a response made in a module survey, then you can task reps with finding this information out in advance of the meeting. This can help to increase reps' confidence and their sense of purpose/value.
Ensure reps are included in the circulation of any minutes and actions from meetings. Reps can use these documents to feedback to all students on their programme, ensuring that everyone is aware of the discussions taking place and the actions being agreed.
Closing the Feedback Loop
This part of the process is just as important as gathering feedback from students. Closing the feedback loop helps to maintain trust in the system by allowing students to see that their issues are being actioned or to find out why they aren’t. Sharing feedback with students has also been known to increase student participation in completing surveys and can lead to greater satisfaction.
When: throughout the year / as and when required
There are various ways in communicating outcomes and actions to students. Below are some examples:
As part of the Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience Enhancement Theme, Scottish institutions and students’ associations collaborated to develop a set of core principles that should underpin effective practice in responding to student voice in a range of contexts.
The output was a resource pack based on a set of cards that sets out a series of interrelated principles of practice. These can be used by individuals or groups in formal and informal contexts. You can find out more information and download a set of cards for your own use from the Enhancement Themes website.
The case studies below have been put together to draw upon the positive experiences, for both staff and students, of recruiting reps and the impact they have made.
At Centre for History we have set up an undergraduate rep system whereby each rep will represent all History/Scottish History students (including students on joint programmes) at their location.
The main purpose of using this system is to increase cohesion at the college level across year groups. Some reps made themselves available at specific times in the college café as well as being available by email. We had reps come forward at Inverness, Moray, Orkney and Perth Colleges and the student from Orkney College agreed to represent students across all the smaller colleges.
We invited HISA into induction sessions to speak to our students about the organisation and about being a student rep. 2 students noted their interest in being a rep immediately and others were recruited after an email was circulated to all students. One or two were recruited directly – I considered who might be good and approached them.
We also recruited a deputy rep at the larger locations so that students could work together and to have that extra support to be more effective.
Support was provided to the reps through disseminating information to students on their behalf. For example, an email was sent to all students noting the reps’ contact details and advising when reps would be in college that students could speak to them in person.
A welcome email was sent to all the reps thanking them for taking up the role and providing them with more information about what the role would entail. This included highlighting the class rep training to them, setting out who they were expected to represent i.e. all History, Scottish History and joint programmes at their location), their responsibilities such as attending course committee meetings and other feedback sessions and when these would be held. College rep meetings were also highlighted if the reps had feedback that was out with the teaching team’s control, such as room allocation, etc.
Feedback sessions were also organised around rep availability to maximise attendance.
Two feedback sessions have been held during the academic year. At the first feedback session the reps spoke of their own experiences and passed on a few thoughts from the students they were representing. Staff were then able to respond to explain things or consider the points raised.
The second was focused around issues which had been raised in semester one student surveys. We used this structure to discuss what students liked or didn’t like. It was an opportunity to find out if some survey comments were representative or not, and we were able to jointly brainstorm as to how to do some things better. Both sessions were open to all students. At the first one non-rep attended, at the second attendance was just by reps and those from one location did not attend. Both were nice and collaborative.
We hope this resource supports you in taking the steps to recruit reps and to create effective staff-student partnerships.
If you would like further information or have any questions about student representation please contact HISA or a Student Engagement/Quality staff member at your Academic Partner.
For any comments and questions specific to this resource please contact Aimee Harvey, UHI Student Development Officer.