The start of a new academic year prompts me to once again start chatting about the importance of the Student Voice at Charles Sturt University.
Although I could talk about this topic for hours I thought you might like to hear from someone else as well, so I recently asked the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andy Vann why he thought it was important for students to be involved in decision making at CSU.
Firstly, he said, “students and staff are key stakeholder groups for the University and it is vital that their interests are represented”.
I could not agree with this statement more. Students are a huge part of the University community and without them, universities would cease to exist as we know them.
Enabling students to provide their thoughts and feedback is not only beneficial to the student cohort, but I believe it is beneficial to the wellbeing of the entire University community.
You may be wondering how and where the interests of students are represented and whether this really makes any difference. Well at CSU, we have students involved in decision-making at all levels of the governance chain.
There are Student Representative Councils on each campus and they are involved in lots of things, including organising social events and raising issues with the leaders of the University on topics such as transport on campus or environmental sustainability.
There are also students who sit on the Academic Senate, which discusses the rules around how you study for your degree (for example, moderation, grades, appeals etc.). I am lucky enough to be the student who sits on the University Council (equivalent to a board of a company) that sets the strategic direction of the entire University.
Andy explained how in universities, difficult decisions have to be made about trade-offs between short-term and long-term interests which he believes “requires serious involvement by students in the governance processes of the University, including ensuring that Student Senate and Academic Senate work effectively.”
The Student Voice really does make a difference to these high level discussions but also to the things that affect you every day. Getting involved could mean nominating for an elected position but could also just be talking to your student representative when you have concerns or ideas.
It is really important for the student cohort that we have dedicated people in representative positions because they give the rest of the student body a voice.
As I am sure you can imagine, being involved with student representation is not only about benefiting the University community or your student peers. The skills and experience you can gain by being involved is unparalleled.
On this topic Andy said, “Clearly, participation in governance processes is also a terrific educational opportunity for the individuals who take it up.”
And he continued that the training and experience provided by these opportunities “can be a huge advantage on the graduate’s CV in entering the corporate world.”
So expressing our Student Voice is really important for the University community and for our own professional development.
University is about all about learning – learning in your degree, learning how to live away from home, and learning new skills that will help you once you leave university.
I would encourage every student, no matter where you are located or what degree you are studying, to get involved with student representation at CSU.