Thursday 04-02-2016 - 17:44
Yesterday was the annual Wise Wales Course Rep Conference. It was held at the Nidum Arts Centre, Neath and over 50 delegates were welcomed from across the FE and HE sector.
The conference opened with both Heather Ferguson and Jessica Rumble, Student Partnership Consultants (Wise Wales) discussing the importance of collectivism. They highlighted the importance of being a course representative and delegates were encouraged to ask why they decided to become course representatives in the first place. This was done in a mixed group setting so that best practice could be shared.
Wise Wales continued with plenary, where the idea of sharing experiences was encouraged and student concerns could be addressed in an informal setting. Delegates were asked to discuss what works as part of their role, what doesn’t work and what could be done better.
Wise Wales then launched its two new programmes; Peer Review Programme – which encourages different institutions and students’ unions to pair together to improve each other’s practices - and the Pathways to Partnership for FE toolkit, which provides a learner voice diagnostic toolkit for institutions and students’ unions in further education to better work in partnership.
There was then a choice of workshops. The first one, Student engagement with hard to reach groups, was delivered by Wise Wales, which explored the idea of students being of different mindsets and living in different places was discussed.
Ebbi Ferguson, Deputy President of NUS Wales, also led a workshop on Leadership. She encouraged delegates to think about what makes a good leader, using case studies and her expertise as Deputy President for the last two years. She helped those involved to draw their ideal leader – an activity which Aberystwyth Student Union President, Lewis Donnelly, seemed to enjoy immensely!
After lunch, more workshops were held including Engaging students in quality by Ellie Russell, Student Engagement Partnership Manager of The Student Engagement Partnership. The session discussed quality assurance and enhancement, as well as the importance of student representation across the board.
Jen Hope of NUS UK then led a discussion on what makes a great student representative, called Being a great representative. She helped delegates to identify the skills and attributes of a good course representative and encouraged those involved to reflect on who they represent. She also explored what happens before, during and after meetings and encouraged everyone in the room to share best practice and tips on how to improve, as well as giving them the opportunity to practice effective communication skills. Part of this involved discussing key attributes of good representatives and sticking post notes on one another – which Ebbi of NUS Wales had no problem getting stuck in with!
The final workshop focused on the importance of the upcoming National Assembly for Wales elections. Delegates were informed about the recent change to the election registration process, the importance of voting and also to think outside the box on how they could engage students in the voting process. The NUS campaign #GenerationVote was used as a case study which showcased an engaged and powerful student voice through fantastic media coverage.
The event finished with closing remarks from Ebbi Ferguson, who thanked all the delegates for attending – as well as coordinating the traditional group photo.
You can find out more about what happened on the day by visiting the Wise Wales Twitter pages:
Or by searching for the event hashtag
You can hear from some of the delegates on what they got out of the event and their personal experience as a student representative here.