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 Faculty 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 Faculty provision with a view to improving the quality of teaching and learning.
    2. To facilitate greater communication between students and staff within a Faculty.
    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 Faculty 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 Faculty.
  3. Faculty committee structure and process
    1. Each Faculty 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 Department, where sub-groups within each SSLC can meet separately to represent specific cohorts within the Department if necessary, such as taught postgraduate students, or specific subject and programme cohorts. Where SSLCs are established at Department level, the Faculty needs to ensure that there are clear and effective reporting mechanisms into the wider Faculty processes, such as through a Student Partnership Board/ Faculty-wide SSLC.
    2. The Action Plan or minutes of SSLC meetings should be a standing item on the agenda of the Faculty’s Education and Student Partnership Committee.
    3. Department Officers (Streatham and St Luke’s – see 7.1) and/or Subject Chairs (Penryn – see 7.7) will be invited to attend all Faculty level Education meetings for the discussion of relevant SSLC Action Plans and minutes. Other student representatives may also be invited where appropriate. The Faculty Education and Student Experience Committees 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 Department Officers/Subject Chair and the relevant Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (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 Faculties 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. Department Officers 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 Faculties and the Students' Union are jointly responsible for promoting and supporting the election.
    4. Officer posts (Subject Chair or Department Officer) will be elected by a ballot among their peers run by the Students' Guild/ the Students' Union.  The Faculties 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 Faculty 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 Faculty 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 Faculty.
    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 Faculty 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 Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, though this can be delegated to a member of staff within each Department or School.  Directors of Education and Student Experience or their 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 or any matters still arising from previous minutes, 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 for individual programmes or 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 or minutes.
    6. The Chair (or joint Chairs) of undergraduate/joint SSLCs at subject level should be the Subject Chair or one of the Department Officers elected by a process run by the Students' Union/Students' Guild respectively(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. Minutes for each meeting can also be used instead of a single Action Plan, should an SSLC’s membership agree this is more appropriate.
    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 and Student Experience 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 Faculty responses to recommendations.
      (ii) External examiners’ reports and Faculty responses to recommendations.
      • Teaching (including the dissemination of good practice and programme and module evaluation).
      • Organisation and management (including timetabling and Faculty 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 Faculty in response to it.
    11. Where the SSLC’s student Chair and Director of Education and Student Experience 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 set of completed minutes or 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 set of completed minutes or update to an Action Plan following an SSLC meeting should be forwarded to the Students’ Guild/ the Student’ Union, and to the Faculty Senior Education Partner or nominated individual who will supply them to the Faculty’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 (or minutes), 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 Plan or taking minutes, and should also be responsible for the general administration of the meeting. The Action Plan or minutes taken should clearly indicate who attended each meeting and their role in relation to the Committee.
    15. All administrative costs beyond providing a secretary to service meetings should be borne by the Faculty.
    16. Any member, student or staff, of the Faculty 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 Faculty every academic year.
  6. Subject Chairs and Department Officers
    1. The Students’ Union will be responsible for the election of Subject Chairs. The Students' Guild will be responsible for the election of Department Officers.
    2. The Subject Chair(s) and Department Officers will be responsible for promoting the role of the SSLC, and co-ordinating the student members of their SSLC.
    3. The Subject Chair(s) and Department Officers will work with the Students' Union/ Students’ Guild to organise and promote any ballot under points 4.2 and 4.5 / 4.3 respectively.
    4. The responsibility for for managing the role descriptions of the Subject Chair and Department Officers will lie with the Students’ Union/Students' Guild.
    5. Where appropriate, under the recommendations of the Students’ Guild/ the Student’s Union, the Subject Chair or Department Officers can be called upon to attend Department and Faculty meetings to represent the SSLC. They can also take Chair’s actions 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) and Department Officers 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/Department Officers 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 October 2022

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