July 11, 2018, by Dr. Meghan Gray
What is The Education Network and Why should I Care?
Guest post by Raj Jadav, soon-to-be final year MSci Mathematical Physics student and known to visitors to our UCAS Offer Holder days for his legendary presentation on change, choosing a university, and washing powder. Raj serves an important role in the School of Physics and Astronomy as Education Representative.
Who are we?
The 17/18 academic year has come and gone, and I am happy to share the story of the Physics course reps and the great changes they have made this academic year. My name is Raj and I was elected as the education representative for the School of Physics and Astronomy here at the University of Nottingham. The education network is a group of around 900 students across the university, all of whom help to influence positive change to better the academic lives of students within each of our respective departments.
What do we do?
My role as an education rep is to ensure that students in physics aren’t misrepresented during university wide discussions and that students feel as if they have a say within the department, faculty, and university wide discussion on issues that affect fellow physicists like me. As part of my role, I am also in charge of the course reps in physics. Course reps speak on behalf of the student body they represent during the learning community forum or LCF. (Not the catchiest name I know!). There are three of these meetings per year and they give the team of reps the chance to not only share student feedback to senior staff (Shout outs to Prof Almaini, Prof Aragόn Salamanca, and Prof Benedict) and in the school but to also hear what the staff have planned for the future of the department allowing them to consult us on changes first. So how did the journey begin?
I started the year terrified I’d just annoy my student body and make a fool of myself and it all started with my lecture shout outs…
I gave six lecture shout outs to primary encourage students to run as course reps, I did also however introduce myself as the king on the iron throne. I guess I was thinking that Game of Thrones references will help me? This was probably the most important part of the year since the course reps form such an integral part of the education network. Without the reps collecting feedback, we can’t hope to improve the department at all!
After elections I ended up with a brilliant group of reps. (Shout out to Jak, Jimmy, Alex, Jacob, Alice, Jake, John, Nicola, Ellie, Sam, Tom, Connor, Soph, Alex, Danny and Oli for being hardworking heroes.) Each of whom I couldn’t have been happier to have recruited. One of the first successes the reps had was a survey which went out asking students their opinion on lecture capture. The responses were extremely positive and highlighted to staff members in the department the importance of lecture capture. As a direct result of this survey there was a significant increase in the number of recorded lectures in physics! This was a massive success as this is something that I as a rep have been working towards for the three years I’ve been involved in the Physics LCFs.
One of the important aspects of the department was highlighted to me here. I’m always happy to know that the department never acknowledge being perfect. I’m always encouraged to get feedback from students, to evolve the department into something better. It’s that receptiveness to change and the strong student voice which led to more lectures being recorded. Staff members love feedback and do encourage student responses! This year has really shown me why it’s so important to gather as much feedback as possible, because the staff get a very clear understanding of what the students want. But big changes in physics isn’t all we do:
There are always some very simple requests that students make, and I try my best to ensure that I do everything in my power to please them. I’ve had students ask for new furniture in the common room or a larger bin in the undergrad computer room. These are simple issues to fix and obviously these are issues that the senior staff team will never know about unless it’s brought to their attention. I am pleased to say we got a big bin and some new furniture which is always a good thing! They even love providing tea, coffee, milk and sugar for students in the two undergraduate common rooms set aside for physics students which is a nice gesture of respect! All of which kindly delivered by a friendly milkman (funding for a physics milk float anyone?). All these gestures are small but do prove that staff members genuinely want the students to be happy, and feel appreciated within the UoN physics family.
Why the spam Raj?
Recently I was re-elected as the education rep and I have started planning my goals for the next year. Primarily I wish to work on getting as many resources as possible for students and negotiating the best way to present these to students. I also hope to make sure that I represent staff as much as the students because as seen with the lecture capture example, change requires both the staff and the students to work together. So, I hope you understand why I must spam for opinions and views because if I want to push a change I need the support of students as ultimately my power resides with them.
Finally, in closing I’d like to extend my thank you to EVERY staff member in Physics for being open to change. Every student for pushing that change and most importantly my team of amazing course reps for being so supportive this last year, your work has been amazing!