SSLCs – I’ve got a hunch that most students at Exeter wouldn’t be able to tell you what the acronym stands for, let alone what the bodies are actually responsible for. Yet, Student-Staff Liaison Committees are one of the cornerstones to ensuring that the student experience at Exeter is continuously enhanced and improved wherever necessary.
So, who are they, and what do they actually do? Student-Staff Liaison Committees are made up of a handful of student Academic Representatives, a Subject Chair, and a discipline’s Director of Education. Meeting at least once a term, Academic Representatives are charged with putting forward praise and/or concerns from their peers about their academic experiences. The aim is simple: to reach a positive outcome for all students. Admittedly, whilst that may sound a little opaque, SSLCs work tirelessly to ensure that students’ concerns are addressed and remedied wherever possible; often by seeking clarifications on methods of assessment, suggesting improvements to specific modules, or highlighting areas in which a department could improve in its engagement with students.
To delve a little deeper, I recently sat down with Filipa Torres, a third-year International Relations student who currently serves as Subject Chair to the Politics SSLC. Initially answering “what don’t we do?!” in response to a question about what the role entails, she provided the following summary of a Subject Chair’s responsibilities.
“A Subject Chair is the contact point between the student reps, the student population as a whole, and the department. I attend meetings, write agendas, keep up with the feedback that student reps are reporting, and engage with lecturers.”
Filipa’s duties are primarily carried out during meetings of the SSLC. From my experience as an Academic Representative, these meetings are thoroughly productive and worthwhile. On chatting to Max Jablonowski, a second-year International Relations Representative, he too described the meetings in a similar fashion.
“The meetings are very chilled. We discuss any questions, the Director of Education comes along, and there’s no pressure whatsoever; you can speak whenever you like, and you won’t be limited in what you do say.”
It’s important to remember that these meetings aren’t a forum for simply expressing negativity, but instead, they provide a unique opportunity to propose creative and innovative solutions to the issues that are raised.
One example of this is the recent creation of a Peer to Peer Mentoring Scheme within the Politics Department. Having received feedback from first-year students that they feel ill-prepared for January exams, the SSLC, in conjunction with the Politics Society and various members of staff, set about recruiting volunteer second and third years to lead workshops on exam technique. The scheme will begin piloting two sessions this December. This is just one case that highlights the positive change that can arise as a result of SSLC action.
So, if you’re not convinced of the good that SSLCs do on your behalf; get involved and stand for election to one when the next cohort is recruited. Or, take it from Max, who reflects that being on an SSLC has provided him with opportunities to “meet plenty of new people, allowing you to build greater relationships with staff and students”, Filipa, who stated that a lot of the satisfaction she draws from being in her position is that “you’re representing a lot of students, and that keeps you going”, or me, in that I wholeheartedly believe that they’re the best way to go about affecting academic change at Exeter.
In the meantime, be sure to reach out to one of your Academic Representatives if you have any concerns about your academic experiences at Exeter; we’re always willing to listen.
One of the hardest things about the Christmas period is that whilst there are so many deadlines and January exams to study for, this is also the time of year with the most festivities. It seems impossible to get it right; on the one hand, staying in and studying means you are doing your best in your degree. However, on the other hand, knowing friends will be getting mulled wine from the Christmas market while you sit inside on a dark, cold evening is enough to make you lose interest in working completely. With seasonal changes in light affecting mental health and overworking meaning you can be at risk of burnout or anxiety, getting the balance right is vital.
Here are some tips which I’ve found helpful in keeping on the right track.
1. Make sure that when you are studying, you are doing it effectively, and right
Understand the way that you work best. For me, waking up at a regular time and working in the morning is easiest – it’s when I have the greatest amount of energy, clarity and focus.
2. Establish a routine at the beginning of each week
Use a weekly planner – free online with a quick google search – and decide when you are going to work, what you are going to work on, and when you are going to stop and relax.
3. Don’t be overambitious
Be realistic about what you can actually get done in a day.
4. Pomodoro your way to greater focus
Human beings are incapable of focusing for large lengths of time without breaks, so try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25-40 minutes and work solidly. Take 5-10 minute breaks in between these chunks and step away from your laptop, make some tea, put up some decorations or do something else you enjoy.
5. Start your assignment today!
We’ve all been there; a deadline feels like months away but before you know it there is only a week to go! Don’t be the person stuck indoors over Christmas because of deadline procrastination, get going now!
6. Eat that Frog!
I use Brian Tracey’s Eat That Frog ABCD method to prioritise my work starting with the most important, scary tasks – the ‘A’s’, things you absolutely have to get done – all the way down to the ‘D’s’, bits which you could leave until later. You tackle the most horrible things at the beginning of the day when you have the most energy, and then that spurs you on to do the others. It also means if you don’t get the D, C, or even B tasks done, there is no guilt sucking your motivation the next day, and when you stop to enjoy coffee with a friend, you aren’t stressing about work.
7. 10 minute time trick
Struggling to get started? Just put on a timer for ten minutes and tell yourself that you will work steadily for just that tiny amount of time, no matter how terrible what you achieve is. Switch your phone off, close your door and do it. Telling yourself you just have ten minutes removes all the pressure of perfectionism, and before you know it, you’ll be pressing repeat on the timer and getting stuck in.
8. Don’t overwork
No matter what you might think, as long as you are doing your best that is enough. We are only human. Don’t completely cut out downtime just to get your deadlines in. Your mental health and wellbeing comes first…
If you need support now or over the holidays, speak to your lecturers or reach out to the Wellbeing team.
Written by Evanna Kappos, studying English Literature.
It is that time of the year again – assignment deadlines are stacking up and exams are just around the corner…There is a lot to do, you have got essays to write, exams to revise for and it feels like you’re always busy. However, this blog post is here to tell you that your work and revision can wait, but your health, especially your mental health, should be your top priority.
It is normal to feel stressed, that just means you care about what you do and that is a great thing. Just remember you need breaks and a clear mindset in order to work well, so you need to allow yourself to take breaks. Here are some of my personal tips on what to do when you are starting to feel overwhelmed by everything in life.
Jasmine May 13th, 2019 Exams and Assessment, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Preparing for University, Studying Anxiety, depression, mental health, wellbeing
Through the midst of Christmas and New Year celebrations, perhaps some of you try to avoid the question “how is revision going?” Yet, exams are right around the corner, so I hope to help at least some of you out there who are struggling to revise and probably googling the least amount of marks you have to attain to pass the year.
Before I came to University of Exeter, I personally took a long time to figure out what revision techniques suited me best. In school, my teachers would always say “revise how you study best.” Some of my friends would study in groups, use flash cards or even say their thoughts out loud. It took me a while ’till I figured what revision methods work best for me. Below is some advice I hope you can implement to your revision. (more…)
I worked at several education fairs last summer on behalf of the University of Exeter and there were a few questions that were popular from prospective students and their parents. I have compiled a list of questions and answered them here, hopefully it is helpful to all international students who may be wondering some of the same things.
Jasmine December 18th, 2018 Clearing, Exams and Assessment, Food and eating, Freshers Week, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Preparing for University, Studying, The city of Exeter, Undergraduate
If you’ve applied through UCAS and are very worried, or even absolutely certain that your exams did not go well at all, you might be looking into Clearing right now. It seems extremely uncertain and daunting, but what you can always do is call the universities you’re interested in attending and ask if you could talk to someone to discuss options with you. After you’ve received your results and are either unhappy with your options or haven’t received the grades needed for them, you’ll be going through Clearing. (more…)
You might have an offer already or you might be a lucky first-year student who doesn’t have January exams. In both cases, you might be interested to learn more about what exams are like in the UK, and at Exeter in particular. This blogpost is the first of a series of three ‘5 things you need to know…’ articles so stay tuned if you want to find out more about lectures and seminars in the UK and the mysterious Flexible Combined Honours course at Exeter.
How many exams do you have? How long do they last? What is the format of the exam? When do they take place? What do you have to bring to the exam? When do you get the results?
These are the most general questions I get from new students so I thought it might be useful to address them in a blogpost. I’ve gathered some useful information below so that you have an idea of what to expect during the exam period. However, these points tend to be more general and you might find that the requirements for your course differ in some aspects.
There is one moment of momentous importance that occurs in every student’s life. One of many, I should say. But a vital one nevertheless. Yes, choosing a dissertation! That moment when you’re faced with pages and pages of titles and description. And it is an important moment. Especially as a major part of your final (or Masters) year will be spent researching a topic and writing a massive dissertation on it. So it’s important that you’re really interested in that topic. When you love what you do, you never hesitate to put hours of work into it.
For many, including me, there’s no clear topic of choice. I had no idea what I wanted to do so I came up with a 5-step process to help narrow down my choices. (more…)
With exams just around the corner we thought we’d put our study tips together to help those of you who need a bit of advice.
Good luck everyone!
For every student, December is a super exciting time of the year because it’s Christmas and you get to be home with your fave family members – your dog!! (I’m kidding, but am I really?)
However, being a Uni student means deadlines, especially towards this time of the year and as much as most of us love the holidays, our deadlines come first. The worst is having assigned essays over the break – the last thing that you want to be thinking about whilst having an amazing time with family and friends is writing about how Katherine Philips was a repressed homosexual due to social construct in the Renaissance (that was what I wrote about in my first Christmas break – a really interesting topic, but not interesting enough when you’re surrounded by good food and music!) You might just end up winging it by smashing out that essay in the last few days of break WHICH IS NOT A GOOD IDEA, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS!!
Dear UCAS applicants,
How’s it going? I have to admit that I’ve erased most of my UCAS time from my mind. It was NOT FUN. Ultimately, it just becomes a short period of time in your memories. All you can really do is your best, submit and then drop it all out of your mind. There is a point where it’s out of your hands and that’s the point where (for most of you) this is your final year, and you need to focus on your work.
However, there is a bit of advice I’d like to give you.
Thais December 19th, 2017 Careers, Cornwall, Exams and Assessment, Higher Education, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Penryn Campus, Preparing for University, Studying, Undergraduate
For first year students and those lucky second years (myself included), reading week is upon us. But as you hear this term ‘reading week’, you can’t help but wonder what’s it all about? Well, as most people decide to go home for a few days, reading week can be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of a packed out term. Reading week is largely about enjoying the freedom of not buying and cooking your own food, of being able to watch TV, and of course, catching up with family and friends. However, not to be forgotten is the true purpose of this week, to catch up on academic work and basically organise yourself. First term can be a little overwhelming for anybody, living independently in a completely new place, making friends and adjusting to student life. Reading week is also just a moment to breathe.
From my experience, I advise: don’t waste your week! The second part of first term can be insanely busy and can fly by with deadlines, house hunting and exams looming. Here’s a few tips on how to deal with the period from reading week up to Christmas!
1) Use your time effectively in reading week:- catching up on any missed work (we’ve all been there), or start planning/writing your essays/reports etc. Also, as silly as this sounds, take advantage of home cooked meals! This is also a chance to bring anything back to uni you may have forgot,such as a Halloween costume. A Christmas jumper also always comes in handy in December (socials, flat meals etc)
2) In November, start looking for houses for next year. Make sure you’re clear on who you’re living with and commence house hunting! A lot of them are released in November and there’s a mad rush which leads up to the Housing Fair. You won’t want to leave this issue until when you have exams, it’s just unnecessary stress!
3)Don’t leave all work until last minute! Leave yourself enough time to do the research, write out a draft, edit the draft, and also enough time left in case something goes wrong (illness, losing work etc)
4) Go to lectures. As simple as this tip is, I know it can be hard on a freezing cold Monday morning dragging yourself out of bed for an 8:30. However, it is worth it, as missed lectures can slowly add up and when the time comes to revise, you’ll realise that you don’t know half of your course!
Lastly, enjoy this festive time of year! Exeter also has a fantastic Christmas market, which is something to look forward to!
I had mixed feelings about coming back to Exeter. Although I didn’t want to leave my family, and the comfy house and home-made meals, I was looking forward to seeing my friends, getting back into a studying routine and being more independent again. After getting used to living by myself, it was difficult having to live with family again. I really enjoyed spending time with them though, my sister Tanisha and I spent a lot of time together. She starting working at Superdrug and I loved training her and working with her, it was so much fun. I didn’t get as much revision done as I was planning to; I worked 35-40 hours a week at Superdrug and wanted to spend time relaxing with my family. I really don’t know where all the time went, 3 months has flown by!
I was over the moon to find out I had passed my end of year exam. Despite all the stress, I think the majority of my year passed. Everyone tried so hard, we all got what we deserved.
Is it really four years since that fateful day? I’m talking about that day. That day when, surrounded by my peers, many of whom were drowning in anxiety and perhaps a little over-exaggerated hysteria, I sauntered into the school hall, whose smell of cheap wax and Wotsits I can still smell to this day. There, lined up before us, were three folding tables, with a smiling woman from reception behind each one. After she sifted through the envelopes in her box labelled ‘J – Q’, and handed me mine with a saccharine smile, I realised that somewhere inside the envelope in my hands were the four most important letters of my life. Four letters which were rather unfairly now the pinnacle of my academic life. Four letters, which, behind my back, had in a way begun paving the way for the rest of my life. It was strangely monumental.
Well, I’d like to put that much weight on that moment I opened my A Level results, but I’d already received a text message from the University of Exeter first thing that morning, so I suppose I didn’t need to subject myself to the smell of crisps and awkward conversations with the headteacher that afternoon. ‘Congratulations!’ the text read, telling me that I’d already secured my place. It took a while to register, as I rubbed the sleep from eyes, before deliberating falling back into bed or heading down to find out how I’d really done. I did the latter, of course.
A level results day is fast approaching; there are university guides and advice on Clearing appearing in the papers, some of your more confident friends might be preemptively joining Freshers’ groups on Facebook and there’s that slight anxiety in the air when asking any recent leaver where exactly they’re going in September. (I was always overly deliberate when answering that one, “Well hopefully I’ll be going to Exeter, but it could all change!!” – just in case anyone got the wrong idea and started assuming things.)
For the millions out there with conditional offers for places at university, that awkwardly placed day in August (following an entire summer of deliberately not thinking about the whole thing) can feel like a life-defining moment, a major turning point in your academic career. The exams are over, the coursework is in, the UCAS form long since submitted; at this final hurdle it’s as simple as a yes or no answer, in or out, and there’s not a lot you can do about it either way.
My experience of A level results day was an overwhelming one, just as I imagine it is for most people.