Student representatives employ a range of skills in their role, including;
- Meeting skills
- Developing a raised profile within their institution
Students’ unions usually provide basic training to acquaint reps with their role once elected and, often later in the year, on the skills that are key to effective representation.
As course representation is often a voluntary activity, your union has a role in supporting the development of representation skills and facilitating reps to recognise their value and articulate them.
These can be used later for the rep’s CV and act as a key selling point for recruitment of new reps.
Training sessions vary in length, from two-day residential courses, to two hour training sessions depending on budget and facilities.
In addition, many unions hold advanced training sessions separate to an introductory training session, or deliver units of skills based training throughout the year.
- Campaigns: were to start
- Planning a campaign
- Mobilising support
and much more...!
Points to consider about rep training
- How will you evaluate the success of your training or reward those that attended? Will you record numbers and details of the reps that attended, or produce a feedback form for participants to complete? Collecting this information may be useful when you approach your institution for support for the system in future.
- Is it inclusive? Take account of the varying needs of the diversity of reps. Will you need documents in alternative formats? Can the menu cater to all tastes and preferences? Is the venue accessible for all and relevant to your training activities? Will the time and date of your training allow the maximum number of participants to attend (e.g. avoiding religious celebrations, prayer times and activities and cater for the needs of those with dependants?).
- How can you make your training more appealing? Will you provide participants with snacks or refreshments? Will all participants receive a certificate?
- Check the composition of your reps and tailor your session according to the needs and interests of the reps that attend. If there are to be newly elected reps, and reps that have undertaken training in the past, can you design your training programme to suit?
- Why not include an icebreaker or time for networking, student reps often will enjoy meeting other reps and discussing the issues together, and forging links at training sessions will allow them to be more effective at working together in the future and may improve retention of reps and effectiveness of their work.
- Do you have the resources to consider online or interactive training?
- Have you accessed your NSS results? These can be broken down by department and institution to give an accurate picture of the student experience at your institution – why not pass this on to reps during training? It may give them food for thought as well as evidence to support any issues that they wish to raise in the future, or better still encourage them to get involved in your own campaigns.
- Could you work with your institution to add items to the training plan (for example, a breakdown of the school structure), or a welcome talk from your vice chancellor – this will add value to the status of your training and importance of your event.
- Can you provide participants with information that is specific to their course or department to increase their interest (e.g. departmental policies, staff lists, NSS results) by splitting your training by course or faculty or by providing different activities that are relevant to their subject area?
- Could you work with a nearby institution and share resources for your student rep training?
Course Rep training on the Quality Matters website
The Quality Matters website is full of resources for course reps, managers of course rep systems, student officers, and anyone interested in students and institutional quality processes in Higher Education in England. This includes 5 introductory training modules for course reps.
Examples from students' unions
Anglia Ruskin Students' Union representative training booklet
Northumbria Students' Union:
- school rep training presentation
- PGT rep training presentation
- Beyond your course (advanced rep training)
- The wider picture (advanced rep training)
City University, London Students' Union:
- Action plan and review for reps