‘Graduates for our Future’ Enhancement Theme
Students as Partners Work Strand
Title of initiative: Academic Representation System
Contact Name: Sarah Ingram
Institution: Cardiff University
Address: Cardiff University Students’ Union, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3QN
Key Words: Academic Representation System, staff, students, academic reps.
Was the initiative introduced: throughout the institution, beginning with four pilot
Aim: To enable consistency across all 27 Schools at Cardiff University in the purpose,
usage and value of Academic reps. The documents that emerged from the
developing the system were aimed at the staff, to give them an understanding of
representation and to be able to use the system. Resources were then developed
for the students who were reps themselves and all other students so that they also
could use the system effectively.
Description/approach: There has always been a representation system in place;
however, it varies widely between schools. Last year (2009-10) a task and finish
group was set up in the University to come up with some key recommendations.
This year the Students’ Union wrote up some key roles and responsibilities for
academic reps and discussed them with the reps themselves before submitting them
to the University. A partnership between the Union and the University began,
gathering information on what approach other institutions have taken and talking to
current reps through Academic Council and in other forums to ask them for their
Once we had developed a draft system, the University and Union met with Schools
who were willing to pilot the system to make sure that it was feasible. In order for
the new system to be launched, it is vital that both students and staff buy in to the
concept and it is hoped that there will be a ‘launch’ with concise information on the
system and its benefits.
Anticipated outcomes: The outcome of the project is primarily to achieve a long
standing academic representation system that is useful to both Schools and students
and allows for both groups to feedback to the other.
At the same time, a good working relationship will promote a sense of community
within each School and allow the reps to learn key skills and have responsibility
within the student cohort.
Evidence of actual outcomes: The system is still being finished, however, we already
have four Schools wishing to pilot the system that will begin in September. As a
result of the discussion with the reps themselves, some of the procedures in the new
system are already being implemented early, such as an annual report to be
circulated from each Student-Staff Panel.
Update Feb 2012: The revised student representation system is now half-way
through its first year. We have just run a survey with the staff co-ordinators that
maintain the system at School level and we have received very positive feedback.
Student reps are involved in more University committees, students are more aware
of the role and purpose of student reps, more elections have been held, we have had
tripled the amount of reps that have attended training and have created webpages
and online resources for staff and student reps to use and there are further
developments to be implemented that will help dissemination of actions as a result
of student feedback to take place next year.
Reflection/impact: It is currently difficult to know the extent of the impact that this
system will have. However, the main risk with the concept is the lack of buy-in from
students and staff. As we have spoken to many reps about the developments and
some of the staff, it is less likely that the system will not work due to a lack of
Whilst working with different groups of people means that projects can take much
longer than anticipated, if it is fully engaged with when it is launched then the longer
process is not just preferable but a necessity.
Update Feb 2012: Staff and students have reacted really positively to the new
resources and the new system. There are obviously further developments to make
and it is too early to measure the impact that the new system has had in responding
more effectively to students’ feedback, but it has enabled the University and
Students’ Union to capture a lot more of the work that has gone on: feed it into
institutional-level committees and suggest it as good practice to other schools.