From London to Washington D.C. Where will your School Rep skills take you?

Written by: UPSU


There are plenty of reasons to get involved in the Part-Time Student Elections at your Students' Union. One being the experience you gain and build on vital skills for your CV.

Meet Sam Duffield, who was a School Rep with us for the academic year 2019/20, read about how nominating himself for a role helped students at the University of Plymouth and boost his career after graduation!



"I ran for School Rep for the Academic Year 2019/20 in October 2019, five months before COVID completely changed University-life. In hindsight, I’m super glad that I did, as I was involved with other members of the Union Council and VP Team at the time for ensuring that students were covered by the original safety net policy.



My original motivation for running for the position was to unify the student experience across SECaM - School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics. I had friends across Mathematics, Computer Science and all variants of Engineering Programmes who were reporting varied practises. Some programmes had detailed exam & coursework feedback, but questionable lecture material; whereas others had extremely detailed slides but were perhaps lacking in assessment or marking criteria. My goal was to bring SECaM students and academics together to share best practise as they transitioned from the old legacy school (SoCEM).

I had 2 big achievements as School Rep. My first was guaranteeing SECaM students that no individual programme would hand back coursework without some evidence of marking. That would either be a graded rubric, oral feedback or literally handwritten notes on your script. This was re-assuring for those students who didn’t have the confidence to directly ask for feedback after coursework grades were released. I believed introverted students shouldn’t be “academically handicapped”. My second achievement was linking up UPSU STEM Societies with the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET). UPSU STEM Societies can now benefit from up to £500 per-event additional funding from IET’s London HQ!



As a School Rep, my student perspective increased massively beyond my own programme. It was extremely fulfilling to be involved in the Union Council and steer the direction UPSU takes in enacting motions brought forward all students across the whole University. I also made a few new friends within the Union Council, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves out on the town and swapping our notepads for pints & cocktails. Volunteering as a School Rep allowed me to practise skills that I now use daily in the workplace.

You will be coached by UPSU in how to lead discussions among your peers, encourage critical thinking, show empathy to those who are struggling, and empower your Course Rep team to make a difference. I use the same leadership qualities I gained as a School Rep in my life today, as Discipline Lead in a local engineering company, directing the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, leading Devon and Cornwall’s Institute of Engineering and Technology, and acting as a mentor to graduates who inevitably end up joining my teams!

My School Rep skills have taken me from London to Washington D.C. and other parts of the world. Where will yours take you?"