At the University of Leicester course reps across all departments are given the chance to attend a lunch with the Vice-Chancellor Bob Burgess and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Christine Fyfe. There are two lunches during each semester and this semesters lunches have just been. The first was on Thursday 2nd December from 12pm to 1.30pm and the second a week later on Thursday 8th December at the same time. These lunches provide a chance for course reps to take any issues that are above Student Staff Committee meetings within their department to the highest level possible. The Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor take comments from the floor and answer any issues brought to light. Of course an added perk of this meeting is that a free lunch is provided.
Attendance at the first lunch was relatively good with around 28 course reps turning up. The second lunch had a greater number with around 68 reps attending. Both lunches had a slight interuption by a fire alarm at the end of the first and start of the second, but other than that ran smoothly.
The first lunch was largely dominated by international students meaning many issues brought to the floor were specific to them. These included bringing the welcome program that Leicester runs forward and how they can experience the British culture more.
Other more prominent issues were things such as problems with the new student accommodation, Nixon Court. These problems included faulty lifts and lack of required facilities in rooms. Bob addressed the subject saying they were contacting suppiers and informed students of a meeting for Nixon Court students that evening.
Students commented one or two issues in both sessions. One such issue was the fact that the Economics department has introduced coursework for 3rd year students. Not only was this not detailed in the handbook, but it was also implemented 3 weeks into term. Many students feel that this is unfair and say they chose the course mainly based on the fact it was pure exam. Christine Fyfe responded to this saying she agreed the late implementing was not acceptable however the department will be thinking of the students in their decision. Various surveys and studies have shown students grades are better when there is course work and many students in economics have requested it.
Another pressing issue was that the January exam timetables have still not been published. Students would like to know their timetable further in advance to be able to effectively plan things such as revision timetables. Bob was shocked by this as timetable were supposed to be out well before the end of term. He met with the exams office the following Monday and they ensured it would be out that week. This was during the first lunch and when mentioned again the following Thursday timetables were still not out however Christine promised that they were due to be released the next day and if this was not the case to contact Bob directly.
There were many more issues covered all equally important to the students involved however I have given details of a few that stood out. As well as being a chance for reps to voice their issues to the Vice-Chancellor attendance at the lunch also counts towards the accreditation certificate they will receive at the end of the year which may be either standard accreditation, bronze, silver or gold.
In terms of my gain from organising and attending the event it was enjoyable and relatively easy to plan. I informed course reps of the event in their weekly news letter (sent out via email each Monday). Bob and Christine set the dates and I booked and set up the room in the style of a theatre with Alex Nutt (Academic Affairs Officer) and them sitting at the front.One downside to this semesters lunches is that they were both on the same day meaning if reps couldn’t attend due to lectures or prior commitments this was likely to be the same for both weeks. This however will not be the case in the second semester. Pictures were taken to record the event, some of which are displayed in this post, and an attendance sheet was filled out as reps came in to record names for accreditation purposes. I took notes during each lunch which will be passed on to the Alex and kept as reference. Following this lunch I thoroughly look forward to seeing what next semesters’ have in store.