Without The Open University, there would be no OU Students Association; our histories are interwoven, and we have shared the goal of improving the educational journey of OU students for the past five decades. That is why throughout April in the year of the Association’s 50th anniversary, we will be celebrating the collaborative work we do with the OU. This crucial work is always for the benefit of our students. We want to talk about why, in 2022, our partnership is stronger than ever.
One of the ways that we closely collaborate with the OU, is through the work of our student representatives. Ever since the 1970s, OU students have had their voice represented by a hardworking, dedicated team of volunteers, who sit on governance committees stretching across the entire University. Whether sitting at the highest level, at Council and Senate, or influencing ideas at their origin in each school’s Board of Studies, these volunteers work hard to promote decisions that will enhance the student experience, whilst helping ensure the appropriate standards are maintained.
Student reps can be involved in a variety of ways, and there are always new opportunities to ensure that the student voice is heard. They are often the experts in the room, bringing their experience as students, which is vital in providing perspectives and understanding which non-students may not have.
There are over 100 student representatives at full capacity, with a wide range of roles. With most representatives who work on governance committees working in teams, it is imperative that these students are able to collaborate, providing a united voice, and also utilise their personal experience. These representatives will often be involved in discussions which affect fellow students, whether at a subject, faculty or University level. Examples of the work in this area include commenting on module development, change and withdrawal, providing a viewpoint on various initiatives to improve student outcomes, and questioning the reasoning behind certain results.
Conversely, student representatives, particularly those on the Central Executive Committee, will work as individuals, putting forward student perspectives on more specific issues. Depending on the representative’s individual remit, this can be faculty, nation, topic, institutional or sector wide. The work done in this area has included influencing the university to address issues with delivery of alternative formats, attending meetings with the funding bodies for each nation or even meeting with, and lobbying, the nations respective Governments for changes to improve the experiences for students.
Regardless of the role of each individual representative, it is imperative that that they work as a team, providing a consistent and co-ordinated student voice, emphasising as a collective. By working alongside Open University staff members, student representatives are able to provide an effective voice on behalf of all students and discuss specific issues, all whilst gaining an increased perspective on the workings of the Institution.
Student representatives work hard, often behind the scenes, to make a difference for all students. Despite 50 years of hard work and collaboration, the job will always remain ongoing, as we react to changes that affect all students, helping to ensure that the impact is carefully considered by those who best understand student needs.
You can find out more about the Association’s student representatives on the Assocation website.