Over the past few months, I've attended countless inductions and meetings, so dare I say that I’ve got this introduction thing nailed: Hello, Hello, Hello I’m Vatsav (Vatsav’s pronounced like satnav) and I am your VP Education Arts and Sciences here at KCLSU and I’m looking forward to representing you in the coming year.
With the organisational structure that our college and union maintain, student representatives are an integral pillar to enhance and improve our student’s satisfaction. To achieve this, however, it is important to understand what representation means. Representation at an institution like ours cannot be tokenistic, nor can it exist in an idealistic vacuum. For representation to be successful the representative and the represented must constantly engage in a dynamic dialogue. That said, this blog post is constructed as such to be a curtain-raiser for dynamic dialogue in the year to come.
Our college and our union aren't entirely perfect. Inevitably, they have their problems and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Having problems is indicative of room for improvement, and improvement is never a bad thing. With that said, I’ve identified two key areas that I plan to work on during this year.
1. Assessments and feedback:
I believe that a HE institution's delivery of any academic discipline ought to be considered on two separate levels. On the first, we have the academic content, and on the second, we have the assessment of this academic content. With regards to the former, our college boasts a platoon of stellar academics each of whom are experts in their fields. When it comes to the latter, that is the assessment of the academic content, let’s just say there’s ample room for improvement. On a yearly basis, our students routinely complain about not having access to past papers, not receiving any feedback on prior assessments, and in several cases not having access to or not understanding the marking criteria. Students pay a pricey premium for their college education. They shouldn’t have to struggle with their assessments in what is largely a trial and error exercise. To this end, I aim to highlight the college’s shortcomings and bring about policy changes that enable self-directed learning. Here, we are not asking the college to spoon-feed students and give them a list of expectations that they must meet to perform well. Rather, the position is that college gives students the resources they need to understand what is expected of them in their assessments which ultimately enables them to perform well.
2. Governance and transparency:
Student tuition fees make up for 40% of all the colleges annual funding. While 60% of the colleges funding does come from other sources, student tuition fees contributions is individually larger than any of the other sources. This along with the mission statement of our college (and union) clearly indicates that our students are our college’s largest stakeholders. Accordingly, it is obvious and expected that students deserve to have a say in college and union governance and deserve to have transparency in the college and unions decision making. To this end I aim to create a viable framework where the college and union routinely communicate their decision making to students, and involve more students in college and union governance and decision making.
What can you do?
Keep the dialogue going by getting in touch with me at [email protected]. On an individual level you can exercise your greatest tool, your voice.