The Student Representative system was introduced at the end of the previous semester, but it was not possible to assess the system’s performance in just one week. However, two weeks have passed since the new semester, and now we can examine its benefits and what can be improved. We talked about this with the representatives of the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Dentistry, Zsuzsanna Elblinger and Kristóf Somodi.
Szinapszis: Why was it necessary to introduce a representative system? What were the antecedents?
Zsuzsanna Elblinger: Basically, we created the system of class representatives in order to represent the students’ interests as effectively as possible, and to find solutions to their problems related to education, examinations and studies. For years, we have struggled with not having enough helpers at Students’ Union (HÖK) to deal with educational matters. Fortunately, the SE Veled program has been a success, and thanks to this, we have added enthusiastic members to our committee this year. For the first time, we have reached numbers large enough to implement the long-planned system of class representatives. Previously, there were times when only two of us tried to handle all grades, which unfortunately meant that we often had time to solve only the most pressing problems. With the help of the student representatives, we bring up topics that we would not have heard of before, because in many cases we might have missed a post, or students only discussed issues among themselves, so we couldn’t help. We launched the Class Representative system before the exam period, and already several issues came to surface to be solved. Thanks to the conscientious and active work of these representatives, we can respond faster and more efficiently.
Kristóf Somodi: This semester, we launched the representative system at Faculty of Dentistry as well on an experimental basis. Luckily for us, the subcommittee expanded with enthusiastic members whom we involved into dealing with educational matters. Basically, similarly to Faculty of Medicine, we started this system with the aim of ensuring that students are uniformly represented in all grades and so that they always know who to address with their problems. Already during the exam period, with the help of those in charge, we were able to help students with a lot of educational issues and tried to make it easier for them to manage such matters.
Szinapszis: What feedback have you received since the launch? What kind of constructive changes are planned/implemented so far?
S. K .: So far, the greatest amount of feedback came from the first three years, which seems to have made it more transparent for students how to manage their educational matters. Since they know who they should contact regarding their problems, we have been able to find solutions faster.
Szinapszis: Is this step part of the process of developing unified university transparency or is it a separate process?
Zs. E.: The primary purpose of the system was to create more efficient work completion. It is important that, at the same time, the organization of educational matters becomes more transparent and manageable, and we will work towards creating a smoother system. Our operation is similar to progressive care: problems that can be solved quickly, by one or two e-mails or by telephone, are handled directly by the class representatives (for example, opening additional exam spots according to the bylaw or writing answers to students’ questions). In more difficult cases, which require consultation with study leaders, institutes, or even the dean, they will be assisted by the committee chairman or the education officer. Comprehensive tasks that affect the entire faculty (such as establishing scholarships or even addressing current issues of QR code assessment of lectures) are fundamentally under the guidance of the committee chairman and educational officer, as well as liaising with the Dean’s Office. Of course, we are currently taking baby steps, and the system still needs to be refined, but I think we are moving in the right direction.
S. K.: The same is true at Faculty of Dentistry, and I am delighted that, despite the short period of time, those in charge have been able to quickly learn how to handle their educational affairs, and are increasingly confident in the tasks assigned to them. Of course, in more complex matters, like at the Faculty of Medicine, they get all the help they need, but I believe that as we move forward, independent work will become more and more successful.
Szinapszis: What are the developmental options and plans for the future of the representative system?
Zs. E.: First, we want students to be aware of whom they can turn to regarding their questions. We will strive to establish a more direct relationship with their representatives, and we are also considering setting up “office hours” where students will be able to contact us personally. In addition, we believe it is important for those in charge of a given subject to know which student they can reach us through, thus creating the opportunity for dialogue between institutes and students.
In addition, we are considering introducing the system at other faculties as well. It was also suggested that in the future, students would themselves be able to choose their representative, and that group leaders could be included into the system, but the feasibility of these ideas are still being explored. This will be the first semester when the system comes into effect, so basically, we want to lay a solid foundation and assess our capacity. Of course, we welcome any innovative ideas and constructive opinions. Also, if anyone is interested in participating in the work of the committee, and would like to actively help improve the education system, write to the contact details below or contact us personally, since the more we are, the more ideas we can achieve.
Students’ Union (HÖK) website: http://semmelweis.hu/hok/irj-nekunk/kerdesem-van/
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