AK Schott advocates for improvements to academics.
About the Role
Read the Director of Education's full role description.
The Director of Education is tasked with representing students on matters related to learning, teaching and research in St Andrews. As an elected representative, a central part of my role is to ensure student voices are heard and carefully considered at all levels of the University. Through serving as a trustee of both the St Andrews Students' Association and the University of St Andrews, I am well-placed to coordinate and escalate concerns related to educational experience to the appropriate individual or unit.
Some key areas of personal focus are expanding and improving consultation and communication, promoting student-centered policies and support mechanisms, as well as encouraging the implementation of an intersectional strategy. You can read more about my interests and goals in the sections below.
To keep up to date on what I am working on, you can follow me on Instagram (@stadoed and @sta.educom) or follow @standrewsunion on Instagram! You are also always welcome to reach out to me through email with thoughts or concerns for anything related to education or academia in general.
I lead the Education Executive team, consisting of the two Faculty Presidents and the PG Academic Convenor. In addition, I train and support the 29 School Presidents and Language Convenors and coordinate 350+ Class Reps. I also work closely with the Postgraduate Society President and the Postgraduate Development Officer more broadly on postgraduate issues.
The School Presidents and I meet weekly at Education Committee. The Rector, Deans of Science and Arts, and the Proctor (VP Education) also attend this committee. These platforms allow us to address major issues relating to learning and teaching in the University.
As DoEd, I am involved in various working groups and committees working to create high quality educational experiences for all students in St Andrews. My main role on these groups is to convey student perspectives and advocate for student interests, such as on Education Strategic Managment Group, Learning and Teaching Committee, the Academic Monitoring Group, and University Court and Academic Senate.
I work closely with the Proctor’s Office and University staff on policies to ensure the high standard of teaching and research that St Andrews is known for is maintained and built upon. By ensuring the student voice is at the centre of discussion, I work to make sure that plans and decisions are responsive to student concerns. In this sense, every student is given the chance to shape their academic experience at St Andrews, as well as the long-term strategic direction of the University.
I aim to ensure the work of academic and other representatives in St Andrews is fairly credited and highlighted to the student community. Education Committee runs a Facebook page and Instagram account, where you can find regular updates from your academic representatives. You can find updates on what I get up to by following @stadoed on instagram. I always aim to operate with openness, honesty, and fairness - you are more than welcome to send me an email if you have thoughts or concerns about your studies, academic progression, or University policy. I help where I can and signpost where needed!
Postgraduate Studies and Voice
Postgraduates make up a significant portion of our student cohort; however, their voice often gets lost amongst the undergraduate majority. Alongside the Postgraduate Academic Convenor, I hope to build on the work of previous representatives to ensure postgraduates have the necessary feedback channels and individual platforms, both within their Schools and at a University level.
An important element of ensuring all postgraduate students feel their voices are represented is electing an appropriate number of postgraduate Class Reps. In academic year 2022-23, PG elections will take place in Weeks 4 and 5 of Semester 1. We are aiming to encourage as many postgrads as possible to put themselves forward for positions during this elections cycle. In academic year 2020-21, several changes to the PG representative system were recommended after a comprehensive review was undertaken and you can find more information on this here. We have made changes and built upon these since, to create fairer and better representation for all postgraduates.
The PG Academic Convenor will coordinate the PGT and PGR Forums, with support from the new PGT and PGR Presidents. This will give postgraduate representatives, both taught and research, the opportunity to voice concerns and work constructively to address them. PG Reps from each School are invited to attend.
Community and Events
As School Presidents are drivers of community-building within their Schools, it is important to include them in the efforts to integrate and build a postgraduate sense of community. We want to empower School Presidents, Language Convenors, and PG Reps to run events which are appealing and engaging to both UG and PG cohorts.
Additionally, the Faculty Presidents and I work to facilitate and support interdepartmental events as well as the sharing of ideas and solutions through pre-EduCom meetings and socials. If you have an idea for an event, feel free to reach out! By creating multiple avenues which are responsive to feedback, we hope to build an appealing role which gives individuals the ability to shape their School environment – even within the short time that they are here.
All postgraduate students are automaticlaly members of the Postgraduate Society (a Subcommittee of the Association), which serves to organise socials, promote wellbeing, and supplement academic representation.
As part of my employability remit, I work with the Director of Student Development and Activities, the Employability Officer, and Careers Centre staff to help academic representatives put on engaging School-specific careers events.
The School President Advisory Group (SPAG), which is a sub-group of Education Committee, works to bring the student view into the development of the Careers Centre. Three School Presidents from each Faculty sit on SPAG to share feedback regarding career support, events, and specific School needs. The group works to ensure that School Presidents are supported in their roles as well as to ensure that the Careers Centre is meeting the needs of the growing student body.
The Careers & Employability School Role position helps to support School Presidents in creating and running events through liaising with Schools' Careers Link and the Careers Centre. They assist in gathering and responding to student requests and feedback, attend the Careers & Employability Forums twice per semester and provide support for the School President throughout the year.
Although we remain in an unusual situation with the transition back to in-person learning, I aim to address some of the ongoing issues that DoEds face every year!
This year, the discussion on study space in St Andrews continues to affect most students. I meet regularly with University staff members to address student concerns as they arise on this topic. Staff representatives from the University Library sometimes join our Education Committee meetings to provide updates to our academic representatives. Myself and several other UG and PG representatives sit on the group working on the Main Library Capital Refurbishment Project, the North Haugh Development Board, and the Madras Development Board, and we consistently advocate that valuable space in town is used well and meeting student demand. Where possible, I will be looking to expand the space available to students and encouraging the University and Schools to think creatively about our limited shared space.
Every year tends to bring a renewed discussion surrounding the issue of workload on academic representatives. Like with other volunteer roles, our academic representatives have to balance their studies with the demands their role places on them. Education Committee members (i.e. Faculty Presidents, the PG Academic Convenor, School Presidents, and Language Convenors) are working to meet the demands of their Faculties, Schools, or Departments, as well as to effectively represent the students who elected them. Over the last year, the Union has benefitted from the creation of a new permanent staff position, the Academic Representation Coordinator, who has been essential to improving our training resources, academic elections, and general support. the plans I had have adapted slightly to respond to the new situation. To ensure that all students can access and benefit from academic representative roles, I will be working to ensure this kind of support continues to increase. Whenever I can, I will be advocating for increased staff support and resources dedicated to supporting the work of our Students' Association officers and volunteers.
Stay tuned on my and the Union's Instagram for updates and please feel free to get in touch with feedback or suggestions!
Please note that this Sabbatical position was created in 2017, when the Director of Representation split into two roles: the DoWell and DoEd.
||Alice Ruby Foulis