The mySurrey Voice Platform
The University provides you with a dedicated student voice platform. It’s an online space where students, Reps and staff can collectively raise, discuss and resolve feedback and issues.
The MySurrey Voice platform is structured as a discussion board, broken down into two areas. In the first area, you can privately ask questions, post ideas, share positive feedback, and raise issues between you and your classmates. If a topic attracts enough comments and likes, you will move the discussion into the public area, where staff can interact with the discussion and work with you to resolve issues and develop ideas further.
You can read our guidance for Reps using the MySurrey Voice platform here: ussu.co.uk/voice/Pages/reps-unitu
You can access the Student Voice platform via the MySurrey App and SurreyLearn. Get posting! You can access your MySurrey Voice board here: surrey.unitu.co.uk
Gathering, Prioritising, And Communicating Feedback
In order to effectively represent what other students think, you need to do your research and gather feedback. You’ll then need to ensure you prioritse that feedback so you are an efficient Rep, and communicate any issues or general feedback to staff in an effective way.
By talking to students, giving them the opportunity to talk to you, and by doing quality research, you will have a more relevant understanding of what students think, and what is important to them. This will ensure the feedback you communicate to staff is an accurate picture of what students really think and feel about their experience at Surrey.
So, what might you want to do to get started?
- Make sure students know you’re there to represent them, and how to get in contact with you easily
- Talking to other students in person is one of the best ways to gather feedback, but make use of your new MySurrey Voice platform powered by Unitu, emails, social media, and surveys
- Suggest topics and questions to get students thinking about what they feel about their course
- Explain in your emails or messages why you need student feedback, and what you will do with it
- Make sure that students know that their feedback will be kept anonymous
When you gather feedback, you may end up with a lot of different opinions or issues that students want you to raise. You will need to prioritise which feedback to raise to staff if you are going to be efficient. One easy method to check feedback is to check whether it is:
- Widely felt
- Deeply felt
1) Is the feedback widely felt? Are you confident that the majority of your cohort feel the same way about the issue or idea? If a large number of students agree, then you can have confidence that this is an important issue that you should focus on raising to staff.
If you only have agreement from one or two students, then it may be the case that the issue is a personal one which you will need to signpost to the right University support, or encourage the students to speak to staff members themselves about their own concerns.
However, if you do hear about an issue from only a few students that is not a personal one, it might be worth you doing your research by asking the other students you represent as to whether they have similar concerns, in order to double check in case it is widely felt.
2) Is the feedback deeply felt? You’ll need to establish how strongly students feel about the issue, in order to help you prioritise which feedback needs to be acted on quickly in order to resolve the issue and improve student satisfaction.
You can ask students to rate issues, or vote on how strongly they feel about something, in order to get a sense of how concerned they are. You can also look out for strong language in the feedback that students send to you, in order to understand how important the matter is to them.
3) Is the feedback achievable? In order to be an effective Rep, you’ll need to think about whether the feedback you bring to staff is going to be able to be achieved. You’ll need to think about whether it can be done in the timeframe students want to see, or whether you need to be pragmatic about how long it’ll take. If you honestly do not feel staff are able to take any action on the feedback, you might want to prioritise something that is more doable that will benefit students.
When you get feedback from your fellow students, you will then need to think about how you communicate it assertively and effectively to staff. Sometimes you will receive negative feedback that you’ll then have to communicate to your department, so you’ll need to be professional at all times.
It’s essential that you are professional and polite when you present feedback, but it’s also vitally important that student opinions are still heard even if the topic means you need to strongly consider how you present the feedback to the University. In remembering these four words: ACCURATE, BALANCED, CONSTRUCTIVE, DEPERSONALISED, you can ensure your feedback is professional at all times.
- ACCURATE – Ensure you have done your research adequately to be confident that your feedback is accurate. A great way to ensure your feedback is accurate is to make use of your MySurrey Voice discussion boards where you can ask questions, start discussions, and get a broad, factual sense of what your fellow students think.
- BALANCED – Sharing positive feedback is just as important as sharing feedback about what students would like to see changed. Balanced feedback will have the benefit of showing your department what the cohort values and would like more of.
- CONSTRUCTIVE – Be considerate and think about how you’re presenting feedback, and try and identify solutions or think about what the cohort would like to see in place of the things they don’t like.
- DEPERSONALISED – The three golden rules: depersonalise your feedback from yourself, from the student who raised it, and from individual members of staff. You should represent the majority view of the cohort, even if you individually don’t agree with the majority opinion. Keep student feedback anonymous, and if the cohort has an issue with an individual lecturer, see if you can generalise the feedback first, and if you can’t, speak to a trusted member of staff in the department or speak to the Students’ Union if you’re not sure what to do.
Finally, when you communicate feedback about a specific issue to staff, follow these steps:
- Describe – Outline in a good level of detail what the actual issue is and the practical elements of what the problem might be.
- Express – Explain the impact this is having on students and their satisfaction, and indicate how students feel about the issue, in a professional way.
- Specify – Set out some specific solutions or actions you and the cohort would like to see in resolving this issue.
- Outcome – Highlight what you think the positive outcome would be if a solution is found, or how students would be impacted if no solution is found.