Here you’ll find resources and information that will help you in your role as a Course Rep, including top tips, employability guidance, and the Rep Handbook.
Course Rep Handbook
Being a Course Rep is a fantastic opportunity to develop a whole range of skills that you can use in future life – inside and outside of the workplace! We’ve put together this information below to help you make the most of your time as a Rep.
As a Course Rep, you’re building up your skills in leadership, persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability, and these attributes are going to be really useful to you in applying to placements, full-time work, or further study.
It is very important to understand that employers favour students who take part in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, with participating in student representation being one of the extra-curricular activities that employers highly respect. They love to see students putting themselves forward to represent their peers. However, they are not only interested in seeing students getting involved but also how students articulate the skills they have developed.
These are a few of the many skills you will develop as a Course Rep:
- Leadership – As a Course Rep you will be representing the needs of your peers and taking their issues to different university committees. Putting yourself forward to be responsible for those you represent is leadership, which employers consider to be a key competency to have.
- Communication – Constant communication with the people you represent is vital to be an effective Course rep. The role will help you improve your verbal and written communication skills as well as your skill of persuasion which again employers’ value as a key competency to have.
- Collaboration/ Problem Solving – As a Course Rep you will be collecting feedback from students. You will be aware of the issues that students face on your course and you will be presenting these problems in your departmental meetings or any encounters you have with academic staff. Part of your role will be to work collaboratively with academic staff to solve them. This is a skill that employers love to see.
- Adaptability/ Time Management– To be able to fit your Course Rep commitments around your degree or research is a great still to develop. It is all about managing your time well. Adaptability skills and time management are great competencies to have and something that employers seek within students.
Writing about being a Course Rep on your CV
It is important to know how to use these skills that you have acquired to effectively make you stand out from the crowd when applying for placements or full-time work. Be sure to always reference your role as a Course Rep when writing applications, attending interviews and be sure to keep your CV updated! Here are some examples of how you can communicate these skills:
“As a Course Rep, I acted as a liaison between my fellow students and staff at my University. I was responsible for gathering their feedback and communicating this to the University. This role developed my skills in leadership, persuasion, and collaboration, as I was required to be adaptable and to work with staff to find a suitable solution to student issues.”
“Volunteered for one year in the role of Course Rep at the University of Surrey. Skills developed were leadership, persuasion, and collaboration.”
“Course Representative, 2019-20. Tasks included:
- Gathering student feedback on a range of topics
- Collating feedback into written and verbal reports
- Presenting student feedback in official University meetings & forums
- Collaborating with University staff to find solutions”
Do something good, achieve something great! It’s important to remember that you are part of the Union’s volunteering ethos. For this reason, we really encourage you to register with www.surreyvolunteering.com where you can begin to record the hours you have spent volunteering as a Rep. Visit here: http://ussu.co/SurreyRepHours
These hours will show on your profile, and can be used to show employers how you enhanced your degree and developed your own personal skills through volunteering for the Union as a Course Rep. You should have received a registration link when you were elected, but if not, visit the link above to get started.
What activities can you log as volunteering hours?
You can log any time that you spend on your core Course Rep responsibilities which are:
- Time spent in departmental meetings (Staff-Student Liaison Committees and Boards of Studies or Student Engagement Forums for PGRs)
- Attendance at Student Voice Forums
- Attendance at Course Rep training
- Time spent in informal meetings with University staff about course issues (eg. with your Course Leader or Head of Department, or your Postgraduate Research Director)
- Time spent gathering student feedback (eg. posting on social media, sending emails out)
You need to log your hours as a “Course Rep” for the University of Surrey Students’ Union, and list email@example.com as your approver.
Your hours will be sent to Hannah Jones, Course Rep Coordinator at the Students’ Union, for approval. We’ll check over that the hours you’ve logged are realistic, and then they will be approved. These hours will show on your profile, and can be used to show employers how you enhanced your degree and developed your own personal skills through volunteering for the Union as a Course Rep.
Part of what makes being a Course Rep so exciting is how varied the role can be and the opportunity to draw on a range of skills. As the role can be quite broad, we’ve collected together guidance on the main aspects of raising issues and gathering feedback to ensure that you can hit the ground running! You can also read our Course Reps FAQs at the bottom of this page.
Recognition on your HEAR (Undergrad & Postgrad Taught)
As a Course Rep you will also receive recognition of your voluntary position as a Course Rep on your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) at UG level which can be an invaluable way to highlight your extra-curricular activities to employers. For your role to be recognised on your HEAR you must:
- Be elected by a majority of your peers
- Attend Course Rep training or online training
- Attend 3 Student Voice Forums and 2 Faculty Voice Forums or send apologies
- Activate your Unitu account.
Course Rep Awards
In your role you are also eligible to be awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold Course Rep status, the Undergraduate Course Rep of the Year (one in each faculty), Placement Rep of the Year, Postgraduate Taught Rep of the Year and Postgraduate Research Rep of the Year.
Being awarded for your contributions to the role is also a great way to stand out from the crowd when applying for placements or full-time work. For more detailed information on the Course Rep awards and how to be eligible for them, check out your Course Rep Handbook.
Remember, your experience as a Course Rep is a good starting point to get involved in any of the wide range of representative posts in the Students’ Union, from committee member right up to Sabbatical Officer!
A student has approached me with feedback about our course, how do I proceed?
If the issue immediately needs fixing, like a problem with resourses or timetable clashes, speak directly to the relevant module or course leader, as they may be able to help address your concerns quickly and efficiently.
If you think the issue is likely to be shared by your wider cohort, encourage the student to post their concern on your MySurrey Voice discussion board to see if the other students on your course agree. If they do, and the feedback is professional and appropriate, escalate the feedback to the public space on the platform for the attention of staff. You can access your MySurrey Voice board here: surrey.unitu.co.uk
If you feel that the issue needs to be discussed in detail with other Reps and University staff, gather as much information as you can from the student and from discussions on your MySurrey Voice platform, and raise the issue at your next departmental meeting, eg. your Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC).
If the issue isn’t directly related to your course, such as campus issues, you might want to consider raising this with your Students’ Union Sabbatical Officer team, or at a Student Voice Forum with senior University staff.
What do I do if a student approaches me with a personal issue?
Dealing with the personal issues of your fellow students isn’t part of your role as a Course Rep! Though you might be to inclined to want to help, the best support you can give to someone coming to you for advice would to signpost them to someone who is qualified to help them. This might be the Wellbeing centre, students, or staff at the Union. If you’re unsure about who can help, get in contact with the Union by emailing Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I make sure that my fellow students know who their Course Rep is?
Visibility is key as a Course Rep! Gathering student feedback becomes a lot easier when your fellow students know your face and your role. We recommend doing lecture shout-outs, displaying a poster with your name, photo and email, and making use of social media. You shoud also actively post on your MySurrey Voice discussion board so that students know you are their Course Rep.
What if I or other students have an issue that needs to be taken higher in the University?
Student Voice Forums are a great chance for Course Reps to pose wider issues to senior University staff, and to let them know which issues matter to students. If you don’t want to raise your concerns personally, you can get in contact with your VP Voice. You can email in at email@example.com.
How do I make sure I’m presenting my feedback efficiently at a formal meeting?
We want the students voice to be taken seriously, and delivering the opinions of your fellow students in a professional and polite way is a good step to making sure this happens. We recommend you follow the ABCD of effective feedback – make sure it is Accurate, Balanced, Constructive and Depersonalised. Be sure to deliver with honesty, but be tactful too. Don’t raise criticisms of individual members of staff at public meetings, as this can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for staff. Try and find positive feedback to share too, and make sure the feedback you share is anonymous so that individual students don’t feel responsible for constructive feedback being shared to the University to put them off sharing in future.
What if my cohort does have issues or criticisms relating to an individual lecturer or staff member?
It’s important to remember that staff care about your education too, and a relationship based on mutual respect will help you make the most of your position as a student leader in your department.
However, it’s also vitally important that student opinions are still heard even if the topic means you need to strongly consider how you present the feedback to the University. Often, a departmental meeting will not be the right place for this kind of feedback, so if you or your fellow students have concerns about an individual member of staff, then make an appointment to talk to either your Module Leader or Programme Leader about the situation. This will ensure that your concerns are heard, but in a more diplomatic way than broadcasting them at an SSLC or across your MySurrey Voice discussion boards.
What can I do if I feel like my cohort isn’t being listened to?
If you find that you’re raising feedback on your discussion boards, at formal meetings, or directly with staff members and nothing seems to be being done in response, or you haven’t had and further communication about what is being done to address student concerns, you can follow up with members of staff if they have said they will contact you about it. If you are still struggling to get an answer, than you can chat to us in the Union for advice or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What do I do if I have a question that hasn’t been answered here?
You can either email email@example.com with general queries, or email Course Rep Co-Ordinator at Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also always pop into the Union to talk to Hannah in person too!