Mid-course feedback and the personal tutor system are just some of the issues on the agenda of the Edinburgh University Student Association’s newly-elected VP Education, Stephanie Vallency.
Stephanie talks to The Student about her work since coming into the position almost four months ago, one of her main priorities being improving the University’s feedback system.
In summer, a policy was passed to require mid-course feedback in undergraduate courses longer than ten weeks. She describes it as “a really positive move”.
She says, “It’ll be really great in starting that conversation again and creating a bit more of the feedback that’s constantly happening between staff and students. There’s been lots of policy and guidance passed on structuring Student-Staff Liaison Committees.”
Stephanie’s focus on ‘creating more open communication’ is an ongoing project.
“There are some interesting things courses have been doing as well, like at the beginning [of a course] they’ll give a response to the feedback that they got the last year, so the new cohort of students are able to see that stuff has been changing.”
Also on the agenda for Stephanie is student support systems within the university. The personal tutor system is one key aspect she speaks of working on.
“We have just gone out for the consultation period this month. Right now it is a very holistic look at all student support systems, which includes the PT [personal tutor] system, disability service, and any sort of additional support students may need while here.”
“[The] consultation period is currently going through workshops, and pop-ups, town hall sessions, and trying to get as much engagement as possible. Ideally, we’re looking for a more finalised model by the end of December.”
Stephanie has a project to create a Student Rep Forum, which is currently still in the trial period. Whilst this is still being developed she is hoping to create more of a conversation with reps.
“I’m looking at developing our current online systems. We do have groups and pages for our reps – we’re looking to use those for more conversational stuff rather than just information, to allow reps to ask questions and get more engaged.”
One of Stephanie’s main campaign focuses this year is addressing the ‘hidden course costs’ which many students have to pay in order to finish their degree.
“One of the options that we’ve been looking at is providing additional grants if there’s a way for the University to have some sort of scheme students can apply for. We’ve also been looking at promoting online materials rather than requiring students to actually buy a textbook they might not actually need, and have been promoting the textbook buy-sell schemes happening within schools and strengthening those.”
Plans to work towards alternative forms of assessment are another aspect of Stephanie’s role, “Alternative forms of assessment are something that has been moving quite a bit.
“I’m quite interested in the marking schemes we’re using right now and how transparent they are. There are currently five different schemes that the university uses.”
Stephanie’s term as VP Education ends in May.
Image: Andrew Perry