The power of a student’s voice

Dounia Rguyeg is a post-graduate student studying an MSc in Organisational Psychology.

When thinking about university, the last thing people tend to think about is how they can be heard.

It’s pretty well known that if you have issues related to your course, then teaching staff and course officers are usually the best people to turn to. But there is so much more to being heard than just academic feedback.

City prides itself in its ability to give students the mic and here are some of my experiences of that.

1. Programme representatives

The Students’ Union (SU) are the people in each university who represent us students. They are a body separate from the university that work to ensure that our wishes are met. The way that I got involved with the body is through becoming a programme representative.

The role is essentially that of a ‘middle-man’. As a programme representative you can voice your cohort’s and your own concerns to the department. You are also made aware of the steps academic staff are taking to meet your given feedback. You receive training from the SU prior to taking on the role (so you won’t be thrown in at the deep end) to ensure that you can gain the most out of the experience.

It was a role I truly enjoyed as being in the forefront of it all was incredibly insightful. Most of all, your call for change is answered. Our contributions made a difference, and that was great to see.

If you are interested, Programme representatives are elected at the beginning of each academic year. You can see more information on the programme rep role at City, or you can look on other university websites.

2. Starting or joining a society

Another amazing way to get your voice heard at university is through societies.

All societies have officers who play a significant role in the running of the society. During my second year, I became the communications officer for the City Unicef Society.

I found that the opportunity enabled me to voice my opinions but also be a representative for those without a voice.

I took an active role of amplifying the stories shared through the charity, to our student audience while consecutively raising money to make a difference. In all honesty, it was an amazingly rewarding experience and I strongly support those who are interested to go for it!

Other societies that are big on making students heard is Carrot Radio, TV, and Magazine (City’s student media outlets). These societies provide students with a platform to share their stories and experiences with fellow students. They are also the prime opportunity to develop your written and verbal communication skills alongside your creative skills. So why not give it a try, especially if you are studying or interested in journalism.

You can find more information on the different societies at City and what they can offer.

3. Becoming a student ambassador

Student ambassadorAs a student ambassador, I feel heard. How, you might say? Partly because it is impossible to stay quiet for more than five minutes during a shift. Only joking!

Student ambassadors are the first call of help or advice for many prospective and new students. We are always willing to pass on our “wisdom” on all things university related. From writing blogs (like I am now) to sharing our experiences of higher education to primary school children, the list is endless. But in retrospective, it has been the primary way of sharing my experiences of university life and for that, I truly love it.

It does also help that I am getting a little cash in my pocket, hehe! But all in all, it’s an amazing way to share your stories. Why not give it a try? You can find more about students ambassadors here.

Here are some of the benefits of speaking up

  • You get involved, you become a part of the community or make your own.
  • Change: through speaking up you make a call for change and in some cases that change can be brought around.
  • Developing confidence: I was incredibly shy before putting myself out there and made a conscious decision during first year to change. It happened and has been one of my biggest achievements at university!

So that is it from me today and I hope you choose to get involved.

Did you know that there is also a National Union of Students – they champion students to shape the future of education and create a better world. They run great campaigns like Decolonising education.

Find out how you can become a member and get involved with the NUS and shape policy and represent students’ views.

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