Different Types of SSLC
There are many different types of SSLC: large departments can have separate SSLCs for undergraduates, taught postgraduates and postgraduate research students; smaller departments may decide to have two SSLCs, one each for undergraduates and postgraduates; other departments may choose to have only one SSLC. More detailed guidance on the organisation of a range of SSLCs is provided below:
Postgraduate Research SSLCs
There are three ways of organising postgraduate research SSLCs:
- An SSLC for all postgraduate research students in the department;
- An SSLC for all the department’s postgraduates, taught and research;
- An SSLC for all the department’s undergraduates and postgraduates, where there are too few postgraduates in a department for a separate committee.
Postgraduate Research SSLCs can provide a mechanism for organising conferences, peer research presentations or departmental social events, contributing to the overall postgraduate experience at Warwick and preparation for future careers.
Part-Time and 2+2 Degrees (On Campus)
Students on part-time or the second half of 2+2 degree courses are encouraged to stand as an SSLC representative for their course or department.
There is also an overarching 2+2 students’ SSLC which recognises the specific issues 2+2 students may face. All 2+2 students based at Warwick are invited to attend this SSLC, and should contact Caroline Smallwood (C.Smallwood@warwick.ac.uk) for more information.
Collaborative and Distance Learning
All students studying off campus should have access to student-staff liaison arrangements which serve as a mechanism for student feedback and consultation and adhere to the principles underpinning all SSLC arrangements.
If it is proposed that the arrangements for a particular group of students will depart from any of the key principles of the SSLC system, this should first be discussed with the Academic Voice Coordinators, Maisie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nathalie (email@example.com).
Students Studying at Partner Institutions in the UK (e.g. students following courses at partner colleges or other institutions, including students on the first two years of a 2+2 degree)
Some educational institutions and cultures have very different systems from those in the UK and the department responsible for the collaboration should ensure that there are mechanisms in place for the views and concerns of students to be represented and discussed. This may be through existing structures at the partner institution, or through the introduction of a traditional SSLC, or an alternative forum, e.g. a discussion at the end of a module. Students from some cultures may not be familiar with the concept of questioning/challenging methods of teaching and learning and provision of support, but if students can see that their concerns are taken seriously they may be more receptive to this concept.
Whatever mechanisms are put in place, students should be encouraged to consider the issues in a formal setting, take notes or minutes of any discussions which take place, and produce an Annual Report on the operation of the SSLC to be forwarded to the Assistant Registrar (Teaching Quality) by the deadline for submission of SSLC Annual Reports (see Annual Reports ). This process, at least initially, may require more input from a member of Warwick staff than for traditional SSLCs.
Distance Learning and Work-Based Students
For distance learning and work-based students/participants, the use of web-based forums can be very useful for ongoing contact. In addition, many courses have at least one face-to-face meeting for students and staff during the year (e.g. workshops, study days) and it should be possible to arrange at least one SSLC meeting on one of these occasions. A web forum can be created in the SSLC Portal or linked to it (contact the Students’ Union SSLC Administrator to find out more). Course Reps should be asked to volunteer and be appointed democratically. Reps should be encouraged to lead the forum and to consult with other students on their course. A member of Warwick staff should monitor and be responsible for the web forum, in order to answer queries or refer them to other members of staff, encourage discussion and report back on action taken by the department. Although the forum may run throughout the year, it can be useful to arrange a ‘virtual meeting’ at a set time, inviting discussion of particular issues (including those listed on page 15).
A typical structure for a distance learning or work-based SSLC could include two face-to-face meetings per year and two virtual meetings. An annual summary of the operation of the SSLC should be produced and forwarded to the Assistant Registrar (Teaching Quality) by the deadline for submission of SSLC Annual Reports (see page 23).
Students on Joint or Cross-Departmental Courses
SSLC arrangements for joint or cross-departmental courses should provide students with adequate opportunities to discuss all aspects of the course, whilst maintaining a proportionate balance between the representation of students on joint/cross-departmental courses and single discipline courses. In this context:
- A ‘joint’ course is one delivered by departments at Warwick only; it does not include courses delivered in collaboration with an external organisation. Separate guidance for collaborative courses is included above.
- A course is defined as ‘cross-departmental’ if students are required to take modules from more than one department.
The following guidance applies to SSLC arrangements for joint or cross-departmental courses for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Which SSLC Covers the Course?
SSLC arrangements should provide students with an opportunity to discuss issues with members of staff from each department. This may be achieved in a number of ways, and the most effective arrangements for a particular course will depend on a range of factors, including the numbers of students and staff involved with the course. The department should discuss SSLC arrangements periodically with students to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
- A separate SSLC for the course: for larger cohorts, it may be appropriate to establish a separate SSLC for the course. Staff representatives from each relevant department should be invited to every SSLC meeting during the year. If a separate SSLC is not established, it may be helpful to arrange, outside the SSLC system, one or more informal meetings for students on a particular joint or cross-departmental course, to help encourage a sense of community and to facilitate discussion of common issues.
- A departmental SSLC covering more than one course: some departments may have one SSLC covering more than one course (e.g. one undergraduate SSLC covering single and joint honours degrees). In this case, where no separate SSLC is established for a joint/cross-departmental course, the departments delivering the course should agree which SSLC will be the ‘home’ SSLC for students on the course. To ensure that students have an opportunity to discuss issues with each relevant department, either (i) students representing the joint/cross-departmental course should be invited to SSLC meetings in each relevant department, as well as in the ‘home’ department; and/or (ii) members of staff from each department should be invited to attend SSLC meetings in the ‘home’ department for the joint or cross-departmental course.
The number of meetings to which relevant members of staff/students ought to be invited should aim to achieve an appropriate balance between the effective use of student/staff time, and the provision of adequate opportunities for students to discuss issues with each department. The Academic Convenor in the ‘home’ department should take responsibility for liaising with other departments to ensure that students representing the joint/cross departmental-course are invited to SSLC meetings, and/or that staff from other departments are invited to SSLC meetings in the ‘home’ department.
All SSLCs relevant to joint/cross-departmental courses should include discussion of joint/cross-departmental course issues as a standing item on their agenda.
If a separate SSLC is established for a joint or cross-departmental course, each relevant department should nominate a member of academic staff to act as Co-Convenor. One Academic Convenor may take the lead (e.g. for arranging the first meeting, ensuring the Annual Report is completed), but a Convenor for each department should be appointed to act as a point of contact/to attend SSLC meetings.
If a joint or cross-departmental course is included with other courses in a larger departmental SSLC, the Convenor will be based in the ‘home’ department for the course. The Convenor in the home department is responsible for liaising with other departments which contribute to the course, to ensure that staff/students are invited to SSLC meetings.
Course Rep Elections
Academic Convenors are responsible for conducting elections for all SSLC reps, other than first-year undergraduate elections, the First Year Undergraduate elections can be done with assistance from the SU.
If a separate SSLC is established for the joint or cross-departmental course, Course Reps should be elected from each year of the course. The Convenors from each relevant department should agree before the start of the academic year how elections will be conducted, including how students will be informed about the elections and how elections will take place.
If a joint or cross-departmental course is included in an SSLC covering other courses in the ‘home’ department, the appropriate number of Course Reps to be elected may vary depending on the size of the cohorts covered by the SSLC. Before the start of the academic year, the Convenor of the SSLC in the ‘home’ department should liaise with the other department(s) which contribute to the course to agree how students will be informed about the elections and how elections will take place.
Communicating with Each Department Contributing to the Course
If an issue is raised at an SSLC meeting that cannot be addressed by the members of staff present, the Academic Convenor should refer the issue directly to the relevant department (e.g. to the nominated contact for the joint or cross-departmental course, or to the member of staff who delivers the module).
The Convenor should keep members of the SSLC informed on progress in addressing the issue.
Course Reps should be invited to attend Staff meetings, where discussion of SSLC related matters are taking place. In the context of joint or cross-departmental courses, it is recommended that:
- If a separate SSLC is established for the joint or cross-departmental course, a Course Rep from the separate SSLC is invited to at least one staff meeting in each department during the year.
- If a joint or cross-departmental course is included in an SSLC covering other courses in the ‘home’ department, a Course Rep (e.g. the Chair) is invited to attend departmental staff meetings in the ‘home’ department, to represent the whole SSLC. The SSLC Convenor in the ‘home’ department should support this process and liaise with other departments contributing to the course.