As well as being a PhD student at Coventry University, I am also a Senior Research Representative for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. Research reps are part of the Student Union and represent the Student Voice! In this post I will tell you a bit about how I got into this role, what it involves and how great it is!
What do I do as a rep?
As a senior rep I represent the views of research students in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. I collect feedback from my peers on issues specific to research students and take them to the research student forum. This feedback is then taken to regular research forums are we can act on the issues alongside research-specific university staff. I also attend faculty committee meetings, doctoral college committee meetings and academic board meetings (obviously I don’t go to all of them, I do have a PhD to do as well!).
Why do we need student reps?
Students views really matter and telling reps about your views is how things get changed and improved! Often things need to change as time goes on and the University evolves. It’s the students that help to make that change. Students views are represented at meetings and university staff listen and do what they can to make students experiences better. Sometimes, as a current student, you may not necessarily see all the changes as it can take a while to go through all the processes for them to be implemented, but it really does help for students enrolling later.
What do you get out of being a rep?
I have learnt so much about how the university works and have been involved in important changes across the research community. All the research reps and staff involved are so organised and committed to constantly improving the student experience and make positive changes. I have also met so many amazing students from other faculties and made useful connections with university staff.
I have developed skills around communication, such as speaking up at important meetings and meeting new and current students. The biggest achievement for me though, is that I have massively improved my confidence. I used to be very shy, sticking to my comfort zone, I’d know a couple of people and just speak to them. Being a student rep, it comes naturally now and I don’t really think twice about speaking to new people and saying yes to new and exciting challenges.
How did I become a rep and why?
I became a rep not long after starting my PhD. I was told there wasn’t a rep for our centre (previously CTEHR) and it would be great to have someone represent the views of students. I was a little worried about the extra time it would involve but I was reassured by talking to other reps. It was a really simple process to become a rep; I filled out a form online and got three colleagues to support my application.
Being a student rep really makes my time at university more meaningful, not just for me but for other students in the future. I am right at the forefront of seeing really great positive changes for the University as it moves forward with its research students and up the league tables. I can see what they are trying to achieve and how driven they are to do it. I really do appreciate all the things the University does for us!
If you are interested in becoming a course rep or senior course rep go to the Coventry University Students’ Union website. PhD or MRes can become a Research Rep. Research students can apply using our online application form. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about how the University works, meet other reps in the faculty and work with staff to improve student experience.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions about what it’s like to be a rep, how to become a rep or would like me to support your application at Coventry University, please get in touch!