Reps Winter Report 2011
(circulated Jan 2012)
Spring 2011 report
Reps Report Spring 2011
This report was circulated to all students in March 2011.
- Africa, Research
- Law Social Science, Faculty Research
- Politics, Research
- NME, Research
- History (Asia/Africa), MA
- Law, Research
- Anthropology, UG2
- Politics, UG3
- Politics UG1
- Economics UG3
- Music, UG1
- Thai UG
- IFCELS (general)
- Research (general)
1. Africa, Research
· Recently in my department the push for greater formality of rules of research students has been discussed. Ideally there would be someone who could train faculty in the admin matters so that when students look to their supervisors as their source of information about procedures, faculty members can answer.
· E-thesis is still a big issue, as well as trying to figure out how to keep tabs on students so as to know if students on leave or on fieldwork are in danger in the Middle East, in New Zealand, etc.
2. Law Social Science, Faculty Research
· We were very critical of the doctoral school proposals, and together with the heavy criticism from all the departments this has led to these proposals going back to a working group. We also stressed that there should be student representation in this group from the outset and not just at a later stage like originally envisioned. I have reiterated this on the Research and Enterprise Committee, and at departmental level. We have been told this will happen, although we need to make sure it will actually be the case.
· Argued on both faculty and school level against any dumping of bureaucratic process on research students in the form of self-completed annual reports.
3. Politics, Research
· We raised the issue of attendance monitoring in line with pbi, and have been assured by the department that no information will be passed on to UKBA.
4. NME, Research
· Is pushing the visibility of the PhD’s on the SOAS website.
· Discussing the coming doctoral school.
· Getting comments on the E-thesis.
5. History (Asia/Africa), MA
· The School has identified poor communication with students as an ongoing problem. So, for the last couple of months, I’ve been attending various meetings and reporting back on decisions and soliciting feedback on various proposals, such as anonymous marking and personal tutoring.
· I helped get the new word limit regulations temporarily suspended as they’d not been communicated to students properly as well as being pretty stupid.
· To counteract being a quite disparate bunch I’ve organised a group of us to turn out at the SOAS bar quiz each week and we’ve achieved a number of stunning successes.
6. Law, Research
· As Law Research Representative, I attended the February L&SS faculty board meeting, to represent law research student concerns. I intend to be present for any other meetings taking place before leaving for fieldwork this summer. I was contacted by the L&SS Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) regarding tutors at SOAS. I’ve provided some suggestions over email for his consideration.
· Attended the meeting on E-Thesis at the beginning of the term, in which I discovered the significant implications of the E-Thesis issues. I presented the issues to first year law research students and also informally discussed the matter with upper year law research students. Law research students mobilized on this issue and as a team, we have been researching the issue further. Legal advice has been sought on the matter. A meeting with scheduled with Graham Furniss on Monday, March 14th, in which 4 research students were in attendance in addition to SOAS SU Academic Affairs Officer. Conversations and amendments are being made according to the concerns raised by students at this and various other meetings. We can expect another document for circulation in the coming months. A follow-up email will be sent in four weeks.
7. Anthropology, UG2
1) created a degree-wide essay swap system
2) put together department-wide socials in conjunction with the BA1 and 3
3) contributed to the potential revamp of the tutoring system in A&H next year
4) worked with the Department to ensure fairer marking with a greater understanding of marking criteria
5) cleared up confusion about the back-and-forth on word regulations and ISP qualifications
6) We haven’t made any progress on the turnaround of essays, it is an ongoing discussion. (It’s been two and half months, and there’s a class that still hasn’t had essays back)
8. Politics, UG3
· I have been mainly involved in discussions with HoD and year tutors about the poor results of Politics department in National Students Survey last year; we have tried to identify areas of weakness in the department’s operations and I’ve been working to try and get fellow students to complete the survey this year to monitor the department’s performance.
· I have been involved in discussions with the department about the coherence of the academic curriculum for the BA Politics, which will result in a review of the available course options to achieve greater clarity in the process of academic progression between different years. We have demanded that the department organizes information session for year 1 and 2 students to explain available course options and provide proper guidance and explanations about the prerequisites for specialist options etc, this will hopefully happen in term 3.
· Together with year 1 and 2 tutors, we have also pushed for introduction of termly course evaluation forms for courses that are taught by different lecturers in term 1 and 2.
· The issue of total lack of feedback for exams and the rationale for making essays much less important than exams for a course’s final grade is ongoing and it doesn’t look like the department is intentioned to moving to greater weight being put on coursework generally speaking. We have however demanded the department to look into the possibility of providing students with meaningful feedback on exams, which would be very helpful for improving students’ learning experience.
· We have also demanded that the department implements a system of Personal Tutors (and not year tutors!!) for year 2 and 3 students as well as for year 1 students starting from next academic year. We will make sure we follow them up on this, but we’ll also make sure that the reps play an active role in making the course mates aware of the existence and function of personal tutors.
9. Politics UG1
· Identified that particularly in the wake of the change of word count communication was an issue of real importance to the students.
· Clarified the role of the personal tutor, it is in fact a pastoral role
· Pressed for a voluntary 1500 word essay mid-way through the first term to enable students to get feedback on essay technique, content etc. Providing students with an opportunity to get feedback before the “real essay” at/before Christmas.
· In one of our classes we asked for the lecturer to link readings, tutorials and lectures together in a more cohesive way so as to help discussion in tutorials and students studies outside the lecture hall.
· Greater communication in explaining student study choices for the 2nd and 3rd years.
· While this was at the start, raised the issue of admin! (timetables, BLE)
10. Economics, UG3
- Communicated indignation at lack of communication about essay word-count changes (prompting apology from administration), and called for review of similar processes in future
- Supported Econ student to coordinate Department’s teaching staff to write an open letter condemning the logic being the government’s cuts in the Autumn term – unanimous letter gained national publicity
- Will be attending Dept meeting tomorrow, giving student perspective on issues incl. degree awarding criteria, coursework feedback
11. Music, UG1
· Sounds and Cultures Deadlines on Fridays too soon addressed, deadlines to be changed to Mondays for term 2, this has not been done but deadlines have been spaced out and we will push for Monday deadlines next year;
· Sounds and Cultures lack of guidance on essay content raised, as well as concept of “academic development” i.e. getting feedback on first essay so as to better answer the second essay was not happening;
· More guidance on performance 1b performance diaries requested, Nick Gray gave a tour of lessons to inform students. A formal remit and an sample to refer to requested.
· Intro to Music Analysis: lack of sensitivity towards students with less experience in Western Classical Notation raised, request to give a second hour of teaching available to all students not just ones who scored less in the test, raised the issue of self-learning “go on website and click buttons to improve your listening skills” being methodologically questionable;
· Reply to all email thread started on a voluntary basis to exchange queries about course, essays, music and ideas and gigs on around town – has been well received and widely used.
12. Thai, South East Asia, UG
· There’s been questioning of the number of contact hours for Thai which are less than previous years. The department have said that 4 hours is it, and no plan to increase. In past years the reps had been told that it would be increased. If you are studying this subject and want to raise your concern contact the rep of SE Asia. If you are in a different course but have the same issue contact your rep and/or the SU.
13. IFCELS (general)
· A new charge was introduced in September of £10 for every bank letter after the first one is free. The reps and SU have taken this up to get the charge dropped as it does not seem fair, and is not a charge anyone else in the school faces.
· The whole department is being reviewed this Friday (18th), and this is a rare opportunity to raise ALL concerns, what is good and bad about your experience. A panel will hear from students about your experience and will ask questions to get your views.
Reps and also ALL IFCELS students can attend. To share the free lunch, come to room 116 at 12.30; the student session starts at 1.30pm for an hour.
Please email Julien (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you plan to attend, or if its last minute just come along on the day!
14. Research (general)
· Business cards process to change. At the moment you can order cards by filling in the form on the Research Student Portal (under the RSS http://www.soas.ac.uk/research/rsp/rss/). In due course there will hopefully be a system where you generate the template card online and it is sent to the print room. You probably won’t notice the difference, but it may help speed up the process.
The complicated bit will be including the option of different languages. The S.U will be asking reps to input on what info students need on the cards (one or two phone numbers? two emails? Include Skype? etc.). If you have concerns pass it on through your rep or email email@example.com