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StARs Training 2014 Your guide to being an effective Student Academic Rep.

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1 StARs Training 2014 Your guide to being an effective Student Academic Rep

2 Introduction Thank you for volunteering to be a Student Academic Representative (StAR) As a StAR, you are responsible for making sure that the views and concerns of the students you represent are listened to and responded to by the University The Students’ Union supports StARs and helps them to be effective and influential StARs are key to what the Students’ Union does, so you’re very important to us and we want you to feel a part of the Students’ Union

3 How students’ views are represented at all levels across the University Elected officers represent students’ views at the University’s Board of Governors and a range of University-level committees Institute Reps represent students’ views at Institute level at the Institute Quality Committee, Learning and Teaching Committee and Institute Board StARs represent students’ views at course management committees, meetings of StARs in their Institute, at the StARs Forum and through regular communications with StAR Coordinators and course leaders Students take personal responsibility for their own learning experience and engage with their lecturers and academic tutors to get their questions answered and to get the help they need to get the best out of their time at University

4 Do’s and don’ts for StARs If students have individual/personal issues and concerns which just affect them, it is not the role of StARs to deal with these – please encourage individual students to seek information, help and advice by talking to Firstpoint staff in the Peirson building, calling 01905 542551 or emailing If a number of students have shared issues and concerns about their experiences on their course, it is the role of StARs to ensure that these are raised as soon as possible and that the response is fed back to students

5 How to deal with comments and concerns from students about the course Arrange to discuss them with the course leader as soon as possible Feed back the responses to students as soon as you can If the issues are urgent Ensure that you express both positive and negative feedback from students at the course management committee Feed back the responses to students as soon as you can If the issues are general feedback about the course

6 How to deal with comments and concerns from students which can’t be dealt with at course level Issues affecting students from more than one course should be raised with your Institute Reps and your StAR Coordinator, so that they can be discussed at Institute level Issues affecting students from more than one Institute should be raised with the Vice President Education, so that they can be discussed at the relevant University-level committee Key issues and topics should be raised and discussed at the StARs Forum, so that the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) and other members of University staff can hear them and respond

7 Key contacts for StARs Institute Reps Every Institute has at least two Institute Reps, who have all been StARs themselves and who were recruited and selected by the Students’ Union and University to represent students at Institute level. All can be contacted using the generic email addresses as shown below. Institute of Education: Helen Manners and Alice Underhill Institute of Health and Society: Chantal Vinyard, Thomas Williams, Tina Wootton- Porter, Tracy Howell Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts: Bethany James and Philip Rose Institute of Science and the Environment: Debra Doyle, Nicki Le Page, Zuzka Majcova Institute of Sport and Exercise Science: Amy Stringer and David Millward Worcester Business School: Ben Norris, Craig King and Kalin Delev

8 Key contacts for StARs StAR Coordinators StAR Coordinators are named members of University staff with responsibility for supporting StARs and Institute Reps: Institute of Education: Julie Sutton Institute of Health and Society: Dave Robson Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts: Lesley Spiers Institute of Science and the Environment: Tory Milner Institute of Sport and Exercise Science: Andy Renfree Worcester Business School: Roger Saunders

9 Key contacts for StARs Students’ Union The elected Vice President Education is the key contact for StARs and Institute Reps. The person in this role takes part in a range of University-level meetings and committees and is a Governor of the University, so is expected to know what concerns and priorities students have. This relies on StARs and Institute Reps making sure that the VP Education is made aware and kept informed of what students think. Your VP Education for 2014-15 is Tom Clarke – email The Membership Services Manager is a permanent member of staff at the SU and is responsible for working with elected officers, StARs and Institute Reps to ensure that students are represented and to increase students’ engagement with the SU and the University. Contact Ruth Christie via email

10 Key contacts for StARs University The key point of contact with the University is the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students), John Ryan. The SU has regular meetings with John Ryan, including StARs Forums and meetings with Institute Reps and StAR Coordinators. Email Will Bowen-Jones is the Head of the Educational Development Unit and is keen to develop opportunities for students to get involved in genuine partnership projects with academic staff. Email

11 How to find out what students think StARs are meant to represent students’ views, but how can you find out what students think? It may sound obvious, but you have to ask them what they think. Experience shows that you’re much more likely to get a response if you ask direct questions, rather than just asking “Do you have any issues?”. Try asking questions such as: What do you like most about your course? If you could make one change to your course, what would it be? How could your course be improved? Do you have access to the resources you need for your course? Are you confident about referencing? Is the feedback you receive helpful?

12 Communication methods There’s no “best” way of getting a response from students, but you could try some or all of these: Facebook: setting up a Facebook group for students on your course can encourage discussion and suggestions, but don’t forget that not everyone uses Facebook Email: students can email you from their SOLE page. If they’re happy to give you’re their email addresses, you can email them to ask questions Meetings: you may think about setting up a meeting for students on your course, especially if there’s a particular issue which you’d like to discuss with them Talking to students in lectures. Ask your lecturer if you can talk to the class for a few minutes. This can be useful if you want to give students information, but you may find students reluctant to raise issues in front of lots of other people Comment sheets: Giving students comment sheets so that they can write down what they think can be very effective and bring up issues which might otherwise remain hidden. These can be anonymous, or students wanting a response can include their names Drop-in session: You could fix a time and place when you’ll be available for any students to come and talk to you face-to-face Suggest an informal chat over coffee, lunch or a drink with your coursemates

13 Meetings Course management committee The University recognises that it’s essential to include students on course management committees, so that course leaders and other staff can hear what matters to students and consider suggestions from students about changes and improvements which might be made. All StARs should attend course management committees, as taking part in these is a key function of the role. If you’re not sure when these meetings are, check with your course leader. If you really can’t attend, make sure you give your apologies and ask another StAR to make comments on your behalf. Sometimes, these meetings are held at very inconvenient times for students, so please let the SU know if this is a problem. It may be possible to get some help from your Institute Reps too.

14 Meetings Meetings within your Institute Most Institutes arrange meetings or Forums for StARs. These may be organised by Institute Reps, StAR Coordinators or senior members of staff. Some provide lunch! They’re a good opportunity to talk through common themes and problems with StARs from other courses in your Institute. If you think it would be a good idea to have such a meeting, talk to your Institute Rep about organising one.

15 Meetings StARs Forum These meetings are held twice a semester and provide the chance for StARs and Institute Reps to put questions and comments from students directly to the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students), the Vice President Education and senior members of staff invited according to the themes of the Forum. The University undertakes to respond to all of the issues raised, either during the Forum or in the coming days. The responses are fed back to StARs so that they, in turn, can tell students the outcomes. The SU and the University really value your input at these Forums and you can give us written feedback from the students you represent if you prefer.

16 Additional opportunities for StARs From time to time, there will be further opportunities for StARs to get involved in other ways such as focus groups, periodic reviews, conferences and presentations. We’ll let you know about these through the website as well as email and the Facebook group We’ll also let you know about any further training sessions and meetings.

17 Thanks for taking part in the training We welcome your feedback and would love to hear your ideas about how we can improve our support to StARs. Email with your comments and suggestions. By completing this training you are entitled to log 1 hour’s volunteering. Complete our evaluation to validate your volunteering. Complete evaluation

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