University is a place where new beginnings are started, friendships flourish, and rigorous learning is undertaken (by that, I mean studying when you should be sleeping, and sleeping when you should be studying). But did you know, it’s also a place where you can make real, meaningful changes to your education and campus life through being a Student Representative?

While student representatives may exude an aura of power, confidence and leadership- there’s nothing too mysterious about them or the roles they have at the university. Whilst they do have magical powers in the form of discussion and debate and can perform spells and wizardry to host numerous events for our benefit- that’s merely a perk that comes with the role and a year or so of experience- and it’s a pretty cool perk that anyone can sign up for!

To put it simply, student representatives are you- a student- but one in a position of leadership and influence at the university. They get to be involved in important discussions about university changes and are the voice of the students in these higher-level discussions and meetings that directly impact your education. 

They organise and run activities, workshops and events to build your skills and help you have fun, they support societies and clubs from Quidditch to Dance, and know all the best support and advice services that uni has to offer like the back of their hands. They also undertake loads of professional development and bring real change to campus life. 

Current UNSA President, Luka Harrison, shared that I see the main part of my job as facilitating opportunities for students to seek positive changes around the University – whether that be through implementing programs, changing the way things are taught, achieving social change or anything in between.”

The student representatives are more important than you realise in the university’s ecosystem- they’re constantly battling for student issues and working on new ways to improve the student experience in order to make your university experience more enjoyable and fulfilling.  

There are so many options for student leadership- you can nominate for University Council, Academic Senate, College Boards and the University of Newcastle Students’ Association (UNSA), as well as NUSport!! But if those organisations aren’t your style, there are plenty of clubs and associations within the university that are led and organised for students, by students.

Vice President of UNSA, Georgie Cooper, has shared that “There really is something for everyone to get involved with at UON and feel part of a community, whether it’s to make friends, advocate for a cause or build that resume.” 

Elections for these roles are held yearly- and anyone can nominate– you’ve just got to be committed and ready to make change! You can nominate for a range of positions- any that tickle your fancy, then you will receive an email to your student account at the beginning of the nomination period outlining the nomination process. 

The benefits that come from these positions are massive- and some you may not even notice. Having experience with student representative roles is a major green flag to employers, as being a student representative comes with a lot of responsibilities- but it also comes with a lot of learning experience, group collaboration and discussion, professional liaison, event planning… pretty much everything that makes an employer’s eyes light up!

That’s not all the wins either- from his experience as a student representative, Luka says that “The work is really rewarding. Being able to help students can be hard, but it means that I know I’m contributing in some way to making the University better…It’s a life-changing and unforgettable experience!”

If you feel like maybe a little something is missing from your university life and are keen on making real change at the place you study- student leadership sounds like it’s a perfect match for you.

Nominations are now open for University Council, the Academic Senate, and College Boards, and close on Friday August 27, 2021.

Nominations for UNSA open Monday August 30 2021.

So start rallying your friends to vote and drafting that perfect speech – you won’t regret it!

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