Chapter 11 - Taught student/staff liaison committees: code of good practice

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[Partner Institutions: All partner institutions delivering programmes validated by the University of Exeter are required to observe this code of good practice]

  1. Introduction
    1. Each College should possess one or more Student/Staff Liaison Committees (SSLC) covering all taught programmes.
    2. Research degree programmes are covered by the PGR Liaison forums code in the research section of the TQA manual.
  2. Aims and objectives of an SSLC
    1. To enable students and staff jointly to participate in the composition, management and review of College provision with a view to improving the quality of teaching and learning.
    2. To facilitate greater communication between students and staff within a College.
    3. To identify and address areas of concern to students and staff.
    4. To assist student contribution at all levels of decision-making concerning unreserved business within the College and University.
    5. To disseminate examples of good practice.
    6. To provide documentary evidence of the participation of students in the quality assurance and development of the programmes delivered by the College.
  3. College committee structure and process
    1. Each College shall have as many SSLCs as it considers necessary and appropriate to represent properly the interests of their students, taking account of the range of disciplines and diversity of the undergraduate and postgraduate provision within the College. A College may wish to establish a separate SSLC for taught postgraduate students, or have an SSLC for all taught programme students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Equally a College is free to establish College-wide SSLCs or SSLCs at the discipline level. However, where SSLCs are established at discipline level, the College needs to ensure that there are clear and effective reporting mechanisms into the wider College processes.
    2. The minutes of SSLC meetings should be a standing item on the agenda of the College’s Education Strategy Group (i.e. its Senior Committee responsible for Education).
    3. College Officers (Streatham and St Luke’s – see 7.1) and/or Subject Chairs (Penryn – see 7.7) will be invited to attend all College level Education Strategy meetings for the discussion of relevant SSLC minutes. Other student representatives may also be invited where appropriate. The College should ensure that its calendar of committee meetings facilitates timely discussion of issues raised by SSLCs.
    4. The Students’ Guild and FXU will each submit an annual report to the College’s Education Strategy Group and to Taught Faculty Board based on consultation with student representatives.
  4. SSLC membership
    1. Student membership of a College SSLC, should be drawn from as many diverse groups as possible, in accordance with its terms of reference and constitution, including, as appropriate, the different undergraduate degree programmes (including Combined Honours and Flexible Combined Honours programmes) and taught postgraduate programmes. Different years and modes of study should be represented where possible, and means adopted to ensure that representatives can obtain the views of part-time and distance-learning students, where appropriate. Anyone taking a module in a subject is eligible to volunteer for that SSLC, regardless of their course title.
    2. SSLC membership in each department will be set following consultation between students, departmental staff and the Students’ Guild / FXU. Following this process, Colleges should provide the Students’ Guild / FXU with a full list of academic representative posts for their SSLC.
    3. Academic representative posts under the jurisdiction of the Students' Guild will be filled by students who have applied to be volunteers.  Subject Chairs will be responsible for selecting student SSLC members from the pool of volunteers, and must ensure diversity as set out under 4.1.  The Students' Guild will play an advisory role in the selection.
    4. Academic posts based in Cornwall under the jurisdiction of FXU will be elected by a ballot among their peers run by FXU.  The Colleges and FXU are jointly responsible for promoting and supporting the election.
    5. Officer posts (Subject Chair or College Officer) will be elected by a ballot among their peers run by the Students' Guild / FXU.  The Colleges and the Students' Guild / FXU are jointly responsible for promoting and supporting the election.  Specific responsibilities for publicity and promotion of each election will be agreed between the Students' Guild / FXU and each College at least one month before each election.
    6. Where an unavoidable situation precludes the election of student representatives by a ballot run by the Students’ Guild, student representatives can be selected.  The Guild will hold a student-led interview process to fill remaining vacant posts.  The College will be informed of the outcome.
    7. Where an unavoidable situation precludes the election of student representatives by a ballot run by FXU, student representatives can be elected by an in house vote conducted by the College.
    8. Election of Officers should be held in Term 2 to ensure continuity of representation over the summer.
    9. The Colleges and the Students’ Guild / FXU are jointly responsible for the organisation and running of training sessions for academic representation posts.
    10. Where there is a corresponding academic society to a department SSLC a member of the society committee should be invited to be a member of the SSLC.
    11. Colleges will nominate a member of administrative staff responsible for each SSLC.
    12. Staff membership of the SSLC should not normally exceed six representatives and should not be in the majority. The staff representatives should be nominated by the College ADE, though this can be delegated to a member of staff within each department.  Directors of Education or equivalent should be included as members of SSLCs.
  5. SSLC meetings
    1. Each SSLC should have agreed and documented terms of reference and follow the standard agenda as laid down by this Code of Practice.
    2. An SSLC should meet a minimum of once per term.
    3. The Chair (or joint Chairs) of undergraduate/joint SSLCs at subject level should be the subject chair elected by a process run by the Students' Guild / FXU (see 6.1).
    4. An action log of the meeting must be kept to record agreed actions and outcomes.  Minutes of the meeting may also be taken in order to provide context to decisions made.
    5. The agenda shall be emailed to all SSLC members and posted on a relevant College ELE page by the College normally at least one week before the date of a meeting of a Committee.
    6. The agenda for undergraduate SSLC meetings must, as a minimum, include the following standard items:
      • Matters arising and actions taken following the previous meeting;
      • Report from the Chair on developments and any chair’s actions since the previous meeting
    7. Over the course of an academic year, SSLCs must have an opportunity to discuss the following themes:
      • Information relating to internal and external systems of accountability, to include:
      (i) Professional, statutory and regulatory body reports and College responses to recommendations;
      (ii) External examiners’ reports and College responses to recommendations.
      • Teaching (including the dissemination of good practice and programme and module evaluation)
      • Organisation and management (including timetabling and College administrative processes)
      • Learning resources (including library, IT and other teaching/learning resources)
      • Employment, employability and personal development
      • Outcomes of student evaluations e.g. Accelerate and NSS and any action plans arising from these;
      • New and revised programme developments;
      • Assessment and feedback
      • Personal tutoring
      • Student projects or events
      • The effectiveness of the SSLC and the actions of the Students’ Guild / FXU and Colleges in response to it.
    8. Where the Subject Chair and Director of Education agree, the agenda points in 5.6 and 5.7 can be adapted to suit the particular needs of any courses that may have more specific needs. This includes postgraduate programmes. They should still be encouraged to cover these items throughout the course of the year where possible.
    9. The action log (and any minutes where taken) of an SSLC meeting, as approved by the Chair(s), should be posted on a relevant College ELE page normally within one week of that meeting by the Subject Chair or University staff member responsible for the SSLC.
    10. The action log (and minutes where taken) of each meeting ofan SSLC should be forwarded to the Education Business Partner or nominated individual who will supply them to the College's Education Strategy Group, Quality Review and to the Guild / FXU as appropriate.
    11. The College should be responsible for servicing the Committee.  Education Business Parnters should nominate one of their staff as responsible for each SSLC.  This should include providing secretarial support and managing the dissemination of the action log (and minutes where appropriate), and the provision of standard items for SSLC consideration as required by the defaul agenda, such as external examiners' reports/responses, programme approval documentation and material arising from The Annual Student Experience Review (e.g. student evaluations, NSS action plans etc).  The College is responsible for recording and updating the action log (and taking minutes where needed), and should also be responible for the general administration of the meeting.  The action log should clearly indicate who attended and their role in relation to the Committee. 
    12. All administrative costs should be borne by the College.
    13. Any member, student or staff, of the College and Students' Guild / FXU may attend a meeting of an SSLC as an observer.
    14. The Students' Guild / FXU will attend one SSLC in each College every academic year.
  6. Subject Chair
    1. The Students' Guild / FXU will be responsible for the election of Subject Chairs.
    2. The Subject Chair(s) will be responsible for promoting the role of the SSLC, and co-ordinating the student members of their SSLC.
    3. The Subject Chair(s) will work with the Students’ Guild / FXU to organise and promote any ballot under 4.5 (and 4.4 for FXU).
    4. The responsibility for managing the role description of the Subject Chair will lie with the Students' Guild/ FXU.
    5. Where appropriate, the Subject Chair can be called upon to attend departmental and College meetings to represent the SSLC. They can also take chair’s action to approve changes to policies and documents that require action before an SSLC can be convened. Where such action is taken, the Chair must be allowed time to consult with the SSLC to gain wider student feedback and the chair should provide a full report to the next formal SSLC meeting.
    6. The Subject Chair(s) will liaise with class reps, where the departments use them, in order to gain wider student feedback and provide a fuller picture of student opinion.
    7. Where it is beneficial to both student and University, Subject Chairs or academic representatives may be invited to take on additional responsibilities to these core roles. This may include invitations to sit on University working groups, acting as representatives on particular University service offerings, or organising academic events.
    8. The Subject Chair(s) on Streatham and St Luke’s will report to the College Officer who will then report to College / University level meetings. For Penryn and Truro arrangements please see section 7.7.
  7. College Officers
    1. The Students’ Guild will be responsible for the election of one College Officer / pair of joint College Officers for each College.
    2. The College Officer(s) will be responsible for promoting the role of the SSLC, and gathering feedback from the Subject Chairs.
    3. The College Officer(s) will work with the Students’ Guild to organise and promote any ballot under 4.5.
    4. The responsibility for managing the role description of the College Officer will lie with the Students’ Guild.
    5. The College Officers will sit on the Students’ Guild Academic Executive, which will take place twice a term, to report on SSLC activity in each of their Colleges. Where appropriate, the College Officer(s) can be called upon to attend College meetings to represent the SSLCs in their College. The College Officer(s) must gather feedback from their Subject Chairs prior to any College / University level meetings.
    6. The College Officers will feed back to the Students’ Guild.
    7. For Penryn and Truro, Subject Chairs will assume the role of College Officers, supported by the FXU. They will report to the Penryn Subject Chair Working Group.
  8. Partner institutions
    1. The University's partner institutions should incorporate SSLCs or their equivalent into their quality assurance systems.

Last reviewed August 2018

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