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SSCC Guidelines

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST 

STAFF/STUDENT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEES 

Further information and advice: Academic Council Office
Centre for the Enhancement of Learning & Teaching
Vice-President (Education) Students’ Union    Reference: 2000 AC 14 [Revised … …]

1. Function and purpose

1.1 It is a University requirement that every school and institute must establish at least one Staff/Student Consultative Committee (SSCC). Multi-subject schools may, if appropriate, establish separate subject-based SSCCs.

1.2 The purpose of SSCCs is:-

to ensure that schools and institutes receive evaluation and feedback from students on the quality of their academic provision and associated activities;

to provide a mechanism whereby heads of schools and institutes can seek the views of students on matters of policy related to course development and review; and

to enable discussion of areas of concern for students in terms of academic provision and related activities.

1.3 The competence of an SSCC relates to the quality of academic provision in the relevant school or institute. This includes curriculum, teaching and learning, as well as associated matters and activities within a school such as guidance, resources, feedback and accommodation.

1.4 It is strongly recommended that schools should involve their SSCCs in curriculum review (see section H) where possible: student representatives on module and pathway review groups, for example, should ideally be members of a relevant SSCC. Written feedback from an SSCC can be part of the evidence used in curriculum review.

2. Membership

2.1 An SSCC will be made up of equal numbers of the academic staff and students of the school. ‘Students’ in this context means registered part-time and full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students of the University, including students in the University Colleges and in the Institute of Lifelong

Learning.

2.2 The academic staff membership of the SSCC will include the head of school or nominee.

2.3 Student representatives – who should include undergraduate and postgraduate students - will be elected by their peers. Heads of schools are responsible for ensuring that elections take place as early as possible in the first semester, and no later than the middle of October.

2.4 The school will organise SSCC elections - which must be conducted in a fair and representational manner – in consultation with the Vice-President (Education) of the Students’ Union, who must be notified about any SSCC election in advance.

2.5 Students elected to SSCCs will be known as Course Representatives.

2.6 An SSCC may co-opt further students, in addition to the elected ones, to ensure that all areas of work are covered.

2.7 An SSCC can invite additional students or staff to be in regular attendance at its meetings, if appropriate, and can invite any member of the University to a specific meeting if it thinks he or she can make a useful contribution to a particular discussion.

2.8 Where possible a course representative will have a dedicated e-mail address for the purposes of SSCC work.

2.9 Each school must, following the first SSCC meeting of the academic year, and normally before the end of November, send the Academic Registry and the Vice-President (Education) of the Students’ Union a list of the members of its SSCC(s).

2.10 The names of course representatives and their specific e-mail addresses should be prominently displayed on appropriate school notice boards, so that students know who their representatives are.

2.11 Each SSCC will elect its own chair annually. Each SSCC will have a secretary assigned by the Head of School.

2.12 The Head of School will appoint a student liaison officer from academic staff to provide advice and guidance with SSCC procedures and other related issues assigned by the Head of School.

3. Conduct of meetings

3.1 It is a requirement that every SSCC must meet at least twice in each semester. Dates of meetings should be set as far in advance as possible and notified to all members, and so that meetings take place prior to meetings of Academic Board.

3.2 Each SSCC will agree its own procedures for calling additional meetings.

3.3 A written agenda will be issued seven days before each meeting. Any member may have items included on the agenda, providing they are within the committee’s competence (see paragraph 1.3 above). Each SSCC should agree its own procedures and deadlines for submission of items for the agenda and for circulating the agenda to members. Students must be notified about the meeting before the agenda is drafted, to enable any relevant items they wish to raise to be included.

3.4 There will be, normally in written form, normally in written form, reports to each meeting of any relevant matters which have arisen since a previous meeting. 

3.5 Minutes of all SSCC meetings must be kept, and should be circulated to members as soon as is practicable after the meeting. The minutes should be accessible to school and faculty staff, student representatives, the Vice-President (Education) of the Students’ Union, the Academic Registrar and the Director of Student Services. Students in the school or institute are entitled to have access to the minutes through the school website. 

4. Reporting mechanisms

4.1 Academic Registry is responsible for monitoring the functioning of SSCCs.

4.2 The Vice-President (Education) of the Students’ Union will make a summary report to each meeting of Academic Board on the operation of, and matters arising from, SSCCs.

4.3 The head of school (or nominee) is responsible for ensuring that any matter arising from an SSCC which requires more general consideration within the University or action outside the school’s remit is forwarded to the Academic Registrar. The Academic Registrar will bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate officer or body and will monitor the action taken to deal with it.

4.4 The head of school should inform the SSCC at the earliest possible opportunity of any decisions taken within the school relating to academic provision.

4.5 Written feedback from an SSCC can be part of the evidence used in curriculum review (see section H).

4.6 A notice-board must be dedicated to SSCCs within each school to enable communication of matters such as the provision of details of forthcoming meetings and the highlighting of issues of relevance.

5. Resolving disputes

5.1 A head of school who acts contrary to the advice of an SSCC must inform the SSCC of the action. Where appropriate the Head of School may inform the SSCC about the reasons behind this. It is good practice for schools to seek the views of SSCCs on any major issues with implications for students before a decision is taken.

5.2 If there is a disagreement which cannot be resolved within an SSCC, it may appeal to the School Board and seek the assistance of the Vice-President (Education) of the Students’ Union.

5.3 If the School Board is unable to resolve the matter, the SSCC may appeal to a special appeal panel consisting of two Deans, the Students’ Union President and Vice-President (Education) and the Director of Student Services. The panel may seek any specialist advice, including from an external subject specialist, it requires. The panel’s decision will be final. 

6. Training 

The Students’ Union will organise training sessions each year for student representatives on SSCCs. The Vice-President (Education) can provide further information about these sessions if required.

7. Academic Board (2001 AC 478) 

Academic Board functions as a central University Staff/Student Consultative Committee. Its student membership is drawn from School/Institute/University College SSCC members, with a further seven members being drawn from the Students’ Union and Student Council. Staff membership comprises the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students and Learning); Academic Registrar; Director of Information Services; Director of Student Services; Heads of Faculty Learning and Teaching Committees (or nominees); two representatives of academic staff from each Faculty; four representatives from Academic Council; and one member from each University College. The purpose of the meetings is to discuss issues - especially those related to learning and teaching - which pertain to central University policy or provision.