New Course Representatives and School Presidents will now be appointed rather than elected, in a bid from LSU to remove “barriers to participation” for students.
In an exclusive interview with Education Executive Officer Ana-Maria Bilciu, she highlighted that there was an “urgent need to reshape” the roles, with low voting numbers and the election process itself putting off “a lot of students who would make fantastic Reps”.
The requirement for an election was also waived for Department Committees over the summer, which was also turned into an application process, strengthening LSU’s “belief that is time to re-consider how we get our volunteers in their roles”.
When asked how Course Reps and Presidents would be able to sufficiently represent students when unelected, Ms Bilciu said that she was “a firm believer that representation is one of the pillar upon which our SU is built, and I continuously strive to be a champion and advocate of that, particularly within my Section – replacing the election process does not and will not change that”, adding that other student representatives, such as the Welfare & Diversity Committee, are appointed and not elected.
What are Course Reps?
- Course Reps are fellow students on your course who collect student feedback and raise issues to your Department on your behalf, representing you to academic staff.
- If you have any issues relating to your course, they should be an initial point of contact.
- There is one School President per Department or School who are responsible for coordinating the undergraduate Course Reps and act as the main point of contact for serious issues.
- There are around 450 Course Reps and 30 School Presidents across undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses.
Appointments will be administered by LSU, with the applications “anonymised and reviewed by a panel of two staff and one Executive member”, with this new method gaining approval from the LSU Executive Officers and Rachel Thompson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching.
When questioned why students could not be trusted to elect their own representatives, Ana-Maria told Label that the “staff members on the panel are more than qualified”, and that she had a “a genuine interest in ensuring that the students appointed are the best for the roles.” [pullquote]”The Advice & Academic Representation team and I are confident that this reshaped process will open up even more avenues for students to become Course Reps/Presidents, showcasing their abilities, drive and passion for the roles” – Ana-Maria Bilciu[/pullquote]
Despite this, Ana-Maria ran for the Executive Officer role this year on a manifesto spearheaded by “accessibility and accountability”, with questions being raised by some students about the lack of accountability the new Course Reps would have to the student body.
In response, she argued that “Students will be encouraged to let us know how their Rep is performing and an important part of the Rep role is reporting back to students and being accountable”, with Rep feedback – given the extraordinary circumstances with COVID-19 – being “really, really important to us this year.”
Whilst Ana-Maria acknowledged that it was a “significant step to move from elections to applications” she said LSU “believe it is our best chance of ensuring representation for all and have taken as many steps as possible to make the process fair and accessible.”
In the case of contested appointments, the Education Executive Officer said that “Course Rep positions are very rarely contested and where they are, we believe we have decided on a process for appointing candidates that is fair and robust. We will of course welcome feedback on the process and will be conducting a thorough and critical review after.
“We thoroughly encourage all students to review the role description and seriously consider applying for what we believe is a fantastic opportunity to represent your peers!”
You can apply to be a Course Representative or School President (for the roles still available) here. Applications are open until Wednesday, October 7th.
If you have questions or concerns about the change, you can contact Education Executive Officer Ana-Maria Bilciu.