News Article

What's The Deal with Student Reps?

Did you know that the Student Rep programme is run by us at Sheffield Hallam Students' Union and the University?

We recently spoke to Adam Woodward, Adam is a Department Rep and last year he was a Course Rep. Watch this video to find out more about the role, how you can find your own course or department's reps or find out how you can because a rep yourself next year! Read Adam's blog below for the full story of his experience as a course and department rep.

To find out more about the Student Rep programme, head to the Academic Interests section of our website.

Course Rep Assistance Pack

When I joined University, one of my self-set goals was to improve my levels of confidence. I wasn't entirely sure how I was to go about this, but during my induction lecture the Course Leader mentioned the Course Rep position, discussing how important it was in the running of the University. I somewhat reluctantly volunteered myself, worried that I wouldn't be able to commit fully to the role due to other University obligations - you know, like assessments. If I'd have had any inkling when I put my name forward just how much the Course Rep role has helped me during my time here at Sheffield Hallam so far then I'd have leapt at the chance.

Through gathering feedback from my fellow students, I have built up connections and friendships that have since proven immensely valuable, as we've all supported each other with regards to studying. Whilst my course (English Literature) is a considerably more solo one, especially when compared to something like theatre-related courses, it's felt incredibly reassuring to discuss our shared successes with assessments, for example, or recommending wider reading that has proved useful in our own work to others.

I also know that many of the students have felt very reassured knowing that the Course Rep programme is available as some have expressed nervousness when approaching lecturers directly, especially if that reason to speak to them is to raise an issue they may be having with the course. It can understandably be very awkward, so knowing that same problem can be brought to a student's attention instead has proved comforting, especially the fact that it can be sent as a Facebook message, for example, as opposed to being said face to face.

Attending the Staff Student Committee Meetings is where my confidence has most been boosted, however. Whilst gathering feedback from people you've already known for a few weeks was a little awkward, I was absolutely terrified for how actually presenting these findings to a group of almost complete strangers would go. However, once I was in the meeting environment and the staff (some of which I did already know) had introduced themselves, I found myself talking with a conviction I'd previously doubted I had. The meetings I attended were less formal, boardroom style one and more conversations, where other Reps could chip in and out of the current discussion if it aligned, or contrasted, with the feedback they'd themselves gathered. The staff who chaired my meetings were incredibly responsive and engaged, offering solutions on the fly and making notes of things they'd need to discuss with others after the meeting was over. As the meeting ended, I felt strangely empowered, like I'd genuinely made a difference, or had at least started the ball rolling, and that only increased the more meetings I attended or feedback I gathered.

Arguably the most I've gotten from being a Course Rep, however, is how involved it's gotten me into Sheffield Hallam Students' Union. Shortly after I took up the position, I saw a notice on the SU website about a coach then-Education Officer now-President Luke Renwick had organised to take some students down to the National Demo in London in opposition to rising tuition fees. It was the confidence I'd gained from being a Course Rep that convinced me to book a seat and march. It ended up being, honestly, one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I'll always remember shouting my way through London alongside thousands, and thousands, and thousands of other students, each of us trying to be louder than the people either side of us. It was freezing cold and we were all exhausted, but we all boarded the coach that evening to return to Sheffield with smiles across our faces - when we weren't snoring.

In short, if there's anything the Course Rep role can give you, then it's confidence. It's because of taking this position that I've had the connections within the SU to help out on election campaigns, for example, but even then I wouldn't have agreed to assist if I didn't have this new-found strength. Not only can being a Course Rep grant you the opportunity to make real, everlasting change on your course for yourself, your fellow students and all those in years to come, but it will also give you the confidence to aim high both during your time at Sheffield Hallam University and the big wide world once you graduate.

Adam Woodward

(Level 5 - English Literature Student, and Humanities Department Rep)