What are SSLCs?
SSLCs (Student-Staff Liaison Committees) are committees made up of elected student representatives, known as Course Reps, and members of staff. They provide an accessible arena for students to discuss, with staff, issues connected to teaching, learning and student support. They also provide an opportunity for the department to consult with students and receive feedback on new proposals. The SSLC should always be consulted on any major changes to course structures or content.
SSLCs should not consider matters relating to named members of staff or students, nor are they the place for students to air their personal grievances.
Key Principles of the SSLC System
SSLCs can be organised in many different ways to suit the needs of the students they represent. All SSLCs, however they are organised, should be guided by the following principles.
- Be student-led. SSLC reps should be proactive in organising the SSLC and, in consultation with the students they represent, in raising issues for discussion. The SSLC should have a student Chair and Secretary. All SSLC reps should take part in available training to help them fulfil their role.
- Be supported by a named Academic Convenor, who is a member of staff appointed by the Head of Department. Convenors should attend available briefing sessions to gather information and share good practice.
- Provide an accessible forum to enable students to discuss teaching, learning and student support issues with staff in an open manner, within the framework of a formal structure. The department should consult with the SSLC on new proposals, including changes to courses.
- For full-time, campus-based courses, meet at least four times per year, and for part-time, campus based courses, meet at least twice per year. Liaison mechanisms that do not involve face-to-face meetings (e.g. for some distance learning courses, or courses based partly or wholly overseas) should provide students with at least a similar frequency of structured opportunities to raise and discuss issues with staff.
- Encourage the resolution of issues and improvements at a departmental and/or course level. Issues raised through the SSLC should be discussed regularly and promptly at staff meetings. An SSLC rep should be encouraged to attend departmental staff meetings.
- Ensure that discussions and resulting actions are documented and uploaded promptly to the SSLC Portal, allowing dissemination to the student body, represented through the SSLC. This is integral to the credibility and success of the SSLC.
- Ensure that issues which remain unresolved are escalated, where necessary to the relevant Faculty representative. This is to ensure that such issues can be escalated within the University and debated more widely
- Complete an Annual Report on the operation of the SSLC, to feed into University and Students’ Union decision-making processes, and encourage action at an institutional level.
- Not consider matters relating to named members of staff or students, or personal concerns or grievances. Advice on how to raise individual issues is included at the end of this Handbook.
Do SSLCs Work?
Every term the SSLC Coordinators review the minutes and reports written by each SSLC, which they feed in to a number of University committees. Students’ Union Faculty Representatives discuss issues within their Faculty committees, and the Students’ Union Education and Postgraduate Officers write summary reports that are considered by a number of University committees. If there is an issue that is of concern to a number of SSLCs, the University will discuss appropriate action to address this. SSLCs can therefore be very effective in helping to resolve issues at departmental, faculty and University level.
What Have SSLCs Achieved?
In past years SSLCs have persuaded the University to make a number of changes that have improved life and learning at Warwick for students:
- Extension of Library opening times
- Increased digital resources in the Library
- Good Practice Guidelines for departments on managing joint and cross-departmental courses
- Substantial improvements in IT, including an increase in e-learning, e-submission, podcasts and wireless internet provision
- Earlier publication of exam timetables
- Quicker feedback from departments on assignments
- Greater skills recognition
- The alignment of joint-honours students’ reading weeks
- A “Learning Grid” on Gibbet Hill
- Setting up mentoring/’buddy’ schemes
- Extension of computer lab opening hours
- Increased departmental support for Erasmus and year abroad students
The SSLC Coordinators
The Coordinators oversee the SSLC system, consider common issues arising from the minutes of individual SSLCs, and ensure that concerns raised by students are considered at the appropriate level. They can also advise on the operation of individual SSLCs. In 2017/18, the Coordinators, supported by Cara Pearson, the Assistant Registrar (Teaching Quality), Mike Towl, the Students’ Union Democracy & Education Policy Manager, and Maisie Hicklin, the Students’ Union Academic Voice Coordinator are:
- Dr Ian Tuersley, Prof Peter Corvi and Prof Cathia Jenainati (Staff Coordinators);
- Liam Jackson, Students’ Union Education Officer (Student Coordinator);
- Emily Dunford, Students’ Union Postgraduate Officer (Student Coordinator);
The University values the input of the Coordinators into formal decision-making processes and the two Staff Coordinators and two Student Coordinators are automatically members of the University’s Academic Quality and Standards Committee.