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Becoming a student reviewer

The introduction of the ESG supported an increased involvement of students in review processes. In particular, there has been a growth in the involvement of students in the development of quality processes at a national level through their membership of governance and development activities of national quality assurance agencies. There has also been a significant growth in the numbers of procedures that include students as reviewers on review panels. As the role of student reviewers has developed across Europe number of issues have been explored. These include:
  • How student reviewers should be selected and trained.
    • Whether student reviewers should be paid.
  • The role of the student reviewers, such as if they are treated as full members of the panel or if they have special ‘student’ duties?
  • The expected output from the student reviewers, such as if they have to submit a full report/separate report/sign off on reports from rest of review panel?
  • The respective roles of the national union of students and the quality assurance agency, e.g. who recruits and trains student reviewers?

Reviews and the student learning experience

The role of student reviewers has been instrumental in enhancing the role of students in quality. However, this is only half of the story. Reviews are an important way in which you can help influence the student experience within your institution.
  • Your university has processes for internal and external reviews. There should be a qqschedule for internal reviews and it is likely that there will be more than one review conducted during each academic year. Find out when the last external review of your institution was done and when the next one is due. You can find out what was recommended in the last review report and how your university intended to respond. Even if the review is more than a year away, the institution may have started to prepare the needed documentations already and have implemented developments in response to the last review.
  • Find out how your institution responded to the last review and how it plans to qqprepare for the next. Are there ways in which you could get involved in identifying students’ views, like run focus groups or postcard campaigns for example? Is there a small planning/steering group co-ordinating the preparations? If so, there should be at least one student member on it.
  • Find out what type of evidence will be submitted for the review. Do students submit qqmaterial separately, can you contribute to the main reflective document, are you happy with the material that the institution plans to submit and think it is an accurate reflection of the student experience, and is it possible to provide case studies or other evidence? If it is possible to submit further evidence, do not underestimate the timescale for this process. It might take a year to pull together a good student report.
  • Make sure that you are involved in designing the review team visit at the institution. qqYou may be invited to make a presentation to the review team on students’ views or specific aspects of work. Again make sure you have enough time to prepare for this. It is an important opportunity to ensure that students’ views are heard.
  • Your institution might receive drafts before the findings of the review are published qqand, if so, ensure that you are able to comment on them too.
  • Make sure that you will see the reports when they are published. qqThey will help give you an agenda for change. Where issues you have been concerned with are highlighted in a report you will have an ideal opportunity to work with the institution on planning changes. Make sure that other students are aware of the findings and work with them to develop programs for change.
  • At least a year before the next review, look at the last report. Are there outstanding qqissues that your institution has not addressed? Now is the time to highlight these and offer to work with them to find solutions—nobody will want students to raise the same concerns twice.

Becoming a student reviewer

There are many different ways of becoming a student reviewer. In some countries, open adverts are issued by quality assurance agencies asking for suitably qualified students to apply. In others, students might be nominated through national unions of students. Elsewhere, the position might form part of an elected role. If you are interested in quality assurance,you should consider being a student reviewer and keep an eye out for adverts or notifications, or ask your national union of students or quality assurance agency about how you can apply. esu operates a Students Experts’ Pool on Quality Assurance. You can apply to become a member of this pool which provides you with training and a forum for debates that can help develop an interest into a real expertise in this area. A membership of the pool can give you opportunities to undertake other roles as student reviewer, including those of the euas institutional review (iep). If you are interested you to find out more, visit esu’s website at http://www.esu-online.org/structures/qapool/(external link)