Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Computing and Information Science
BSc (Hons) Computer Science
Category: Computing and digital technology
11 March 2015
Course reps are the ‘nerves’ of the Students’ Union. There is at least one for each course or (more ideally) one for each year of a given course…totalling up to quite a few hundred. You can become a course rep by winning the annual election. The primary function of course reps is to provide feedback about the course to the university and Students’ Union and to vote based on these. It is a form of volunteering.
If you would like to get a broader understanding of how the academic works, and have ideas for improvement, then this role is for you. Some would say that this position helps improve your organisational and communication skills. If you want to do it right, you have to put in a notable amount of time. In my experience this is about five hours per week on average, however the distribution is quite skewed: last week I spent about 20 hours on my duties, but this will drop down near to zero as the end of the term is coming up.
I was in a similar role in secondary school, so becoming a course rep at university was a natural step. I also noticed potential areas of improvement, such as the student exchange programmes (Erasmus) and Books Plus
. There are advancements in these topics, such as increased amount of Books Plus and the self-researched Erasmus opportunity, but it is still not close enough to ideal.
How impactful is this position? It is mostly up to your qualities. ARU does a good job on listening to the students through course reps. My favourites are the Course Management and the Meet the Dean events. Both the course management committee and the Dean are very keen on hearing what we have to say, and they do the follow-up (when needed) after the meetings in a short time. Our opinions are welcomed and valued.
As a course rep, you have the opportunity to go to conferences and training as well. For example, this week I was at the NUS
national course rep conference in London, where we learnt about representation and leadership through lectures and workshops.
Regrets? For me, not at all. Some might need to get accustomed to seeing the impact of their work only by the next generation (or academic year). Saying that, most course reps are re-running for elections for each upcoming year. I see the point of it, however I think for this position you can reach the end of the learning curve in a year and the last support you can give to the democracy is to hand it over. Also, there are positions where you can advance further (eg faculty rep) if that is in your interest.