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What do Elected Representatives do?

  • They act in the best interests of the students they represent
  • They represent students to the union and the university
  • They actively gather feedback and ideas from the students they represent
  • They chair meetings and host focus groups
  • They engage with the democratic processes of UPSU by attending Union Council and it's sub-committees (where the political policy of the union is debated and agreed) and the All Student Members meeting (formerly AGM)
  • They run campaigns in collaboration with the Sabbatical Officers to effect change
  • They feedback to students about the work they have been doing

How important are they?

Really important! Student representatives, including Part time Officers, Course and School Reps, are involved at every level of decision making within the union and at many university meetings. Part Time Officers and Academic Representatives play an important part in leading and shaping your union, your university and your wider community.

How much time do I need to commit?

It is hard to say for sure, as each student has different availability and time to devote to the role but we do expect Part Time Officers and School Reps to spend around 10 hours a month on duties related to the role.

What will I gain from it?

Aside from the ability to make change within your union and university, you will also be able to have your efforts officially recognised through your SU's recognition scheme.

UPSU offer training for all roles and many previous Part Time Reps feedback that they have developed their confidence, negotiating and communication skills, as well practicing effective time management - all great things to enhance your employability.

  • Leadership - As a representative you will need to make yourself known to your course, school or the student body to collect and take forward their issues. Taking on a leadership role will show future employers that you can be responsible and have the ability to make decisions.
  • Communication - This role requires you to constantly be communicating with both staff and students. This can be from face to face communication, presenting ideas, talking in meetings, emails and more. Future employers look for individuals with strong interpersonal skills and so developing your ability to be open, approachable and able to resolve issues in a professional manner will benefit you in the future.
  • Time management - It is essential for you to be able to fit your role around your degree as well as other important parts of your life such as a job, family or hobby. Having this role will teach you to prioritise your time and set objectives to ensure you get everything you need done and use your time to the best of your ability.
  • Problem solving - One of your main responsibilities as part of this role is to be collecting student opinions and presenting to staff and then working with them to come to a solution for these issues. Analytical skills are something employers love to see in a potential employee and so this role will set you apart from other students.
  • Meeting etiquette - Many professional jobs will require you to attend meetings. This role will give you valuable experience of how to act in a formal meeting.
  • Public speaking - As a representative you will be required to speak in lectures to make students aware of who you are and to gather their opinions. You will also be required to speak in meetings to present student feedback. Developing your public speaking skills will hugely benefit you in later employment, enabling you to feel confident when speaking in front of large audiences.
  • Negotiation skills - Your ability to negotiate well will develop during your time as a representative through attending meetings, feeding back the student opinion and negotiating changes throughout the university.
  • Research skills - One main responsibility of the role of a representative is to research into the student opinion and explore ways you can improve the student experience for your peers. This can be done through various methods including face to face conversations, surveys and questionnaires, or suggestion boxes to name a few. These skills will also help with the work you do in your degree.

I'm interested - what do I need to do next?

Check that you are eligible for the role.
For most roles all students are eligible, it doesn't matter what year you are in or what previous experience you may or may not have, all you need is a willingness to fulfil the role and make the most of training opportunities.

However, there are a few roles that represent a specific student group or demographic where we do need students to self-define as belonging to that group before they can run for that role.

The roles that need you to self-define as belonging to a specific group are:

  • Part Time Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Officer
  • Part Time Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans + (LGBT+)Officer
  • Part Time Transgender and Non-Binary Officer
  • Part Time Women's Officer
  • Part Time Students with Disabilities Officer

Contact studentvoice@su.plymouth.ac.uk for more information about the role or any questions you have.