Ever wondered how you can make a difference?
At LSE, we take student views seriously. Student feedback is extremely important to the School, and Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs) are forums in which students (via programme representatives) can voice their views about their time at LSE, make suggestions for improvement, and work with academic departments to enhance experiences for the whole student body.
We spoke to three Student reps, Ieuan (Department of Economic History), Ed (Departments of Economics) and Celine (Department of Management) to find out more about SSLCs, how you can use them, and why your voice matters at LSE…
What is a Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC)?
Ieuan: An SSLC is a forum where students can discuss any issues they might in relation to their courses and share ideas about how to improve the student experience. Each Department has their own SSLC, one each for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students.
Ed: An SSLC rep is a student elected by their peers to attend the department’s termly Student Staff Liaison Committee meetings as a representative of the student body. Essentially, what we do is communicate to the Department any problems students might be facing in relation to their course and put forward suggestions for changes that students might want made.
Celine: Through representatives, students have the opportunity to give academic and organisational feedback to the coordinators of their programme, and thus can have a real impact on their course for their year, and beyond.
Unless you offer feedback there’s no way the Department will know what or how to improve – so make sure you contact your representatives!
What are the benefits of being an SSLC representative?
Ieuan: The key benefit of being an SSLC is the opportunity to represent your fellow students. Not only will you be representing the views of others, you will have the opportunity to influence change both within and outside of your department.
Ed: Another benefit is that you actually get to understand how and why decisions are made within the university – for too many students LSE’s bureaucratic and academic structure is like a black box and this leads to frustration when seemingly nonsensical decisions are made.
Celine: What I like about being an SSLC rep is the opportunity to really get an insight into the running of the department and the school in general, and give feedback on it. That way one can really have an impact on their own education.
Why does student voice matter?
Ieuan: The student voice is key to making changes at LSE. If you have had a bad experience, or a good one for that matter, unless you offer feedback there’s no way the Department will know what or how to improve. As the SSLC meetings take place in the middle of term, they offer a good opportunity to make early changes before problems become too large.
Ed: For example, this year the Economics Department has completely reweighted Lent Term Week 0 exams for second-year students from 50% to 25% based on feedback from students and the tireless work of a few SSLC reps such as Yash Salunkhe and Kaman Lyu. It’s crucial that we communicate to the university not only where it needs to improve but what it is exactly that we have a problem with – this is where SSLCs comes in.
Celine: Student voice matters because a lot of the issues that we come across everyday may not be realised by the school management. I think that students who take courses in multiple departments, especially benefit from student reps, as coordination issues regarding deadlines and other matters can really be highlighted in SSLC meetings.
There are plenty of opportunities to discuss issues which affect the whole LSE community
What goes on at SSLC meetings and how can students feed into them?
Ieuan: Each departmental SSLC will meet twice a year, once in Michaelmas Term and again in Lent Term. The organisation of the meetings varies by department, but the premise is the same. In each meeting, there will be an opportunity for representatives to give their feedback on their courses and about the Department in general.
Celine: At these meetings, matters from previous meetings are discussed and new issues can be brought up. These can be academically related (content of a module, clashing deadlines, concerns about teaching method/staff, reading list) or school related (library, printing, Lecture capture, facility requirements, socials etc.). The best way to feed into those meetings is to become a Student representative, or to find out who your reps are and to message / talk to them.
Ed: Students can come and talk to us send us an email or add us on Facebook – almost all SSLC rep details are shared with students somehow - mine are on the BSc Economics Moodle page for example. Once we get a request from a student we make sure it’s put on the agenda for the next meeting or contact the Department if it’s more urgent. When meetings come around we discuss each item in the agenda and what will be done to address the issues raised.
How can students use SSLCs to shape their LSE community?
Ieuan: There are plenty of opportunities to discuss issues which affect the whole LSE community. Each SSLC will nominate a member to attend the Undergraduate or Graduate Consultative Fora, which is a twice yearly meeting with LSE service providers to give an update on various campus issues and discuss wider developments. There, you can feedback the views of students to senior staff, including the Pro-Director for Education.
Celine: In order to shape the LSE community it is very important that people feed into SSLCs. Only if a broad range of people are represented, can changes have a positive impact on a big proportion of the student body, especially because a number of students from each Department also attend the consultative forum, a school wide meeting at a higher level, held once per term where school-wide issues are discussed.
Ed: Honestly it’s so easy for students to make a change – just contact one of us or email your Departmental Tutor and it’ll be discussed at an SSLC meeting. In my time as a rep, I’ve seen issues brought to me raised all the way to the Director of the LSE. The SSLC can be a powerful tool for student voice.
If you would like to get in touch with your SSLC representatives but don’t know who they are, contact your departmental administrator or programme lead. All LSESU representatives get training from the Students’ Union, and if you are interested in becoming a representative, or have additional questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve already volunteered as a representative but have not received the link to register, click here.