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

[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 is appropriate to effectively represent the interests of their students, subject to the recommendations and approval of the Students’ Guild/ the Students’ Union. This should generally be one per discipline, where sub-groups within each SSLC can meet separately to represent specific cohorts within the discipline if necessary, such as taught postgraduate students. 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, such as through a Student Partnership Board/ College-wide SSLC.
    2. The Action Plan 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 Action Plans. 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. SSLC membership
    1. Student membership of each SSLC should be drawn from as many diverse groups as possible, and will be set by the Students’ Guild/ the Students’ Union following consultation between the Subject Chair and the relevant Director of Education or equivalent. Anyone taking a module in a subject is eligible to volunteer for that SSLC, regardless of their course title. Following consultation and appointment, the Students’ Guild/ the Students’ Union will provide Colleges with a full list of academic representative posts for each SSLC.
    2. 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.
    3. Academic posts based in Cornwall under the jurisdiction of the Students' Union will be elected by a ballot among their peers run by the Students' Union.  The Colleges and the Students' Union are jointly responsible for promoting and supporting the election.
    4. Officer posts (Subject Chair or College Officer) will be elected by a ballot among their peers run by the Students' Guild/ the Students' Union.  The Colleges and the Students' Guild/ the Students' Union 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/ the Students' Union and each College at least one month before each election.
    5. 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.
    6. Where an unavoidable situation precludes the election of student representatives by a ballot run by the Students' Union, student representatives can be elected by an in house vote conducted by the College.
    7. Election of Officers should be held in Term 2 to ensure continuity of representation over the summer.
    8. The Student Community and Partnerships Team (TQAE) and the Students’ Guild/ the Students' Union are jointly responsible for the organisation and running of training sessions for academic representation posts.
    9. 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.
    10. The Student Community and Partnerships Team (TQAE) will provide a member of staff responsible for administering each SSLC, including fulfilling the role of secretary. Where this is not possible or alternative arrangements are agreed, the College will provide a member of administrative for this purpose.
    11. 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. A full SSLC should meet a minimum of once per term, with the aim of meeting twice during Terms 1 and 2. A full SSLC should also meet at least once in Term 3 to ensure that the membership conducts an end-of-year review of the Action Plan, and to facilitate a handover between the outgoing and incoming student representatives.
    3. Where possible, SSLCs should take full advantage of online meeting technology available to ensure that all reps and cohorts within its remit can be included and represented in meetings, such as for distance learning programmes and degree apprenticeships.
    4. Specified members of an SSLC should also meet as a sub-group in between full meetings throughout the year as necessary. For example, to focus on issues relating to a specific cohort, such as taught postgraduates within the subject, or at the beginning of Term 1 to specifically discuss the subject’s Teaching Excellence Action Plan (TEAP).
    5. In the spirit of ongoing partnership and dialogue, student and staff members of an SSLC should aim to identify and resolve matters as they arise outside of meetings, unless further discussion, escalation, or action only available through a full SSLC meeting is required. SSLC business conducted like this will be noted at the next full meeting and recorded appropriately in the relevant SSLC Action Plan.
    6. 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/ the Students' Union (see 6.1).
    7. An Action Plan for the SSLC must be kept and used to record outputs from all meetings and conversations, such as agreed actions and details of discussions where context or a record of this having taken place is necessary.
    8. The agenda shall be emailed to all SSLC members and posted on a relevant online forum such as a SharePoint site or SSLC VLE page by the meeting secretary normally at least one week before the date of a meeting of a Committee.
    9. The agenda for full 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.
      • Report from the Director of Education on any departmental developments.
    10. 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.
      • Barriers to access or learning, and other diversity and inclusion related issues affecting particular groups within the subject cohort.
      • New and revised programme developments.
      • Assessment and feedback.
      • Personal tutoring.
      • Student-led projects or events.
      • The effectiveness of the SSLC and the actions of the Students’ Guild/ the Students' Union and Colleges in response to it.
    11. Where the Subject Chair and Director of Education agree, the agenda points in 5.7 and 5.10 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.
    12. Each update to the Action Plan following an SSLC meeting, as approved by the Chair(s), should be posted on a relevant online forum such as a SharePoint site or SSLC ELE page normally within one week of that meeting by the secretary responsible for the SSLC.
    13. Each update to an Action Plan following an SSLC meeting should be forwarded to the Students’ Guild/ the Student’ Union, and to the College Education Business Partner or nominated individual who will supply them to the College's Education Strategy Group as appropriate.
    14. The Student Community and Partnerships Team, TQAE, should be responsible for servicing the Committee. 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 default agenda, such as external examiners' reports/responses, programme approval documentation and material arising from The Annual Student Experience Review (e.g. student evaluations, Teaching Excellence Action Plans, etc). The allocated staff secretary is responsible for recording and updating the action log (and taking minutes where needed), and should also be responsible for the general administration of the meeting. The action log should clearly indicate who attended and their role in relation to the Committee. 
    15. All administrative costs beyond providing a secretary to service meetings should be borne by the College.
    16. Any member, student or staff, of the College and Students’ Guild/ the Students’ Union may attend a meeting of an SSLC as a non-participating observer.
    17. The Students’ Guild/ the Students’ Union will attend at least one SSLC in each College every academic year.
  6. Subject Chair
    1. The Students' Guild/ the Students' Union 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/ the Students' Union to organise and promote any ballot under points 4.2 and 4.5 / 4.3 respectively.
    4. The responsibility for managing the role description of the Subject Chair will lie with the Students' Guild/ the Students' Union.
    5. Where appropriate, under the recommendations of the Students’ Guild/ the Student’s Union, 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, subject to the recommendations of the Students’ Guild/ the Students’ Union.
    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 Students' Union. 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 2020

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