Academic Representation

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Graduated student stands with their qualification. Text reads "Academic Representation"

We chat a lot about Academic Representation, but what does that mean for you? How can you get involved to help make changes for students?

Hi, I’m Alex, your VP Education, and I’ve been at Heriot-Watt for going on 6 years now and my work still isn’t done. Over those 6 years, I’ve been an academic rep for 5 of them at different levels. From Class Rep and now to VP Education, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of representing you in various ways. There’s so many amazing opportunities for each and every one of you to get involved in during your time here and with so many opportunities it can be hard to figure out what’s best for you.

Why did I choose to spend so much of my degree as an academic rep? Beyond the incredible opportunity it gave me to build key skills and buff up my CV, it ignited a passion in me that I hadn’t found with anything else. Being able to make real change and affect the way the University runs made me feel not only like my voice mattered but that I was making a real difference for students. From brushing shoulders with the big wigs to working with lecturers, you’ll get to meet and network with all kinds of staff. You’ll be able to work on your skills at making cases for changes, gathering and handling evidence, and even negotiation. But the list truly doesn’t stop there. With so many reasons to get involved, the real question is why haven’t you?

As a Class Rep, you’ll represent your course at the Student-Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) and in raising issues to course leaders. You’ll be able to advocate for change and lobby your department to improve the experience for current and future students. At the SSLC, you’ll meet with key staff from your department alongside your fellow Class Reps and School Officer to feedback how students are finding their studies and what improvements can be made. You’ll also get the chance to work with us at the Union as a member of Academic Congress, where we chat about the hot topics of the year and get your feedback to inform how we can best represent you!

If you become a School Officer, you’ll get to work with Senior Managers of your Department and School to represent your students in a similar way. You might even get the chance to chair your own SSLC! Just like the Class Reps, we’ll look to you for input and feedback at Academic Congress, as well as meeting with you biweekly. A step-up from Class Rep, the School Officers are important reps for making sure the University is providing the best experience it can to students. With great power comes great responsibility…as well as a £150 honorarium each semester!

Last but not least, you can run to be a School MP. A voting member of the Union’s Parliament, you get to stand on your manifesto for what you’d like to see changed and we’ll help you achieve it. You’ll play a crucial role in Academic Congress chairing discussion groups to collect feedback from reps in your School. As an MP, you’ll get to use your platform and networks to inform how you vote on motions that come to Parliament.

Remember, with these all being volunteering opportunities that means you get to log your hours through us and even get awards accredited by Saltire! If you’d like to find out more, check out our article on Volunteering here!

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