Many students participate in extracurricular activities. In addition, students at many universities have a say in their education process. However, RSM’s Student Representation is unique.
The BA and IBA programmes at Rotterdam School of Management are big programmes, with many students and often large lectures. In order to gain some influence over their large-scale education, students of the Dutch-language BA programme organised themselves as early as 1984, followed by students of the IBA programme two years later.
In the summer of 2008 the two Student Representation groups merged into RSM Student Representation. Yet they are not a student union, fighting for students’ rights alone, Jutta Schrötgens (20) and Martijn Dragt (22) of RSM’s Student Representation explain. It is an intermediary between the faculty and the students which pro-actively helps to maintain and improve the quality of the BA and IBA bachelor programmes. In every single course, two members are present who report to the ten Student Representatives. Already during the course a meeting with the teacher is organised in order to achieve quick wins, if necessary. After the course, at the end of the trimester, a second meeting is held which helps improve next year’s course. The reports of the two meetings are subsequently sent to the programme manager who also uses it to improve things.
Think along with the teacher
Still, one may wonder whether teachers do not feel intimidated by the Student Representation’s constant monitoring; they are there in every single class. Irma Bogenrieder, teacher at RSM feels not uncomfortable with that fact. “Not at all”, she says. “Sometimes they have good ideas how to improve a course”, which has also been the case in her own classes. Bogenrieder says she has a positive opinion about the Student Representation. “Student representatives are instructed and behave in a cooperative way. They think along with the teacher while relying on the students’ perspective. Of course, they represent to a larger extent the students’ interests but their interests are not, and should not be in contradiction with staff’s interests.”
However, other teachers may sometimes react differently. Jutta and Martijn mention a teacher who completely overhauled his course as he was advised to do so by the Student Representation. Consequently, the course manual was not online on time, which resulted in criticism at this teacher. Obviously here, the teacher was not very pleased. But Martijn stresses that whatever criticism students have, once a teacher is confronted, it should be positive and constructive.
Furthermore, the Student Representation’s constant assessment also includes looking beyond what a single teacher does in a single course. Recently, students received different marks from different teachers for the same work. Student Representation set out with RSM programme management to find a fairer way of grading the students’ work. RSM’s Student Representation has shown over the years to be an effective tool. Yet it remains unique at the EUR and in Holland. However, it may work well within other faculties with large-scale study programmes too. KL
If you, as an RSM student have feedback on anything relating to your education, you are asked to get in touch with the Student Representation members in your course, or send an email.