Would you be interested in getting a glimpse behind the scenes at your school and playing an active role in shaping study programmes for you and your fellow students? Find out what the Faculty Board does and the role that you can play in it.

It won’t be long now until the new members of the Faculty Board (Fakultätsrat) are elected. Would you be interested in getting a glimpse behind the scenes at your school and playing an active role in shaping study programmes for you and your fellow students? Then the Faculty Board is just the thing for you.

SRH attaches great importance to the active participation of students. This starts on a small scale in the form of group spokespersons, who are elected at the start of their programme and represent the interests of the study group vis-à-vis the Programme Director. In addition, each school has a school student body  (Fachschaft) that has the option of electing a Student Representative Committee. However, this step must be initiated by the students themselves, and organised on the basis of Student Representative Committee Statutes.

The group spokespersons and the representatives of the school student body  participate in the Student Assembly (Studierendenversammlung) on a cross-faculty basis. Besides the above-mentioned groups of persons, the Student Assembly, led by two elected chairpersons, also consists of the Faculty Board representatives and the Senate representatives.

Besides participating in the Student Assembly, three Faculty Board representatives per school and two Senate representatives make up the Student Council (Studierendenvertretung). The task of the Student Council is to represent the interests and concerns of all students vis-à-vis the bodies of SRH University Heidelberg, and within them. Does that all sound a bit confusing? Admittedly, it is rather complicated: while the Student Council is initiated by the university, the group spokespersons, the Student Representative Committee and the Student Assembly are all elements of student self-organisation.

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved as a student. One possibility to become active is to stand for the Faculty Board.

The Faculty Board

Each school has its own Faculty Board. This body is made up of five professors, two academic/scientific staff representatives, two school staff representatives and three student representatives. The Faculty Board is chaired by the Dean, who, like the Vice Dean and the Dean of Studies, is a member of the Board by virtue of his or her office. As a student, you will serve on the Board for one year after being elected, attending Faculty Board meetings, which are convened by the Dean at least three times a year. All matters of fundamental importance to the school are discussed during these meetings, such as changes to the curriculum or plans for development. You have the opportunity to participate in decision-making and to represent students’ interests.

Finding solutions for all sides

Since 1 March 2021, a total of 16 students have been represented on Faculty Boards. Mara Fock, a student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture at the School of Engineering and Architecture, tells of her experiences. The 22-year-old is a member of the Student Representative Committee and the Faculty Board. Her reason for applying was that she wanted to help represent and realise the interests of students. She states: “On the Faculty Board, I can make a strong contribution to shaping everyday study life as effectively as possible.” To this end, she gathers students’ opinions and their requests for change, and presents them to the Board members. She can also vote on changes to new degree programmes or curricula, representing student opinions. When asked what qualities candidates for the Board should have, she says: “The reason for the Faculty Board is to discuss opinions and exchange views on issues. It is about finding a solution that works for as many parties as possible. It is therefore very important to have a keen interest in the well-being of the school and to enjoy exchanging ideas with others.” She notes that, as a student, you have the chance to gain new perspectives:

“Above all, I’ve learned how things work at the school, how new degree programmes are created and how situations like the coronavirus are addressed.”

- Mara Fock

When asked whether she will run for election again, the student answers: “I would like to run again, but I will complete my degree next March. But I really recommend others to run for election. I very much enjoyed serving on the Faculty Board. I have the opportunity to actively present and contribute my own ideas or students’ suggestions.” What she enjoys most is interacting with other members of the Board.

Trust, fun and new acquaintances

One of those other members is Kerem Bayrak, who studies Business Administration. As a member of the Faculty Board, he attaches great importance to maintaining a good working relationship: “It goes without saying that trust is essential. I want to make sure that SRH University Heidelberg is a place where students not only come to learn, but also to have fun and to meet new people. The Covid pandemic has been particularly challenging during his term of office. The 22-year-old states:

“I helped the school to deal with the problems caused by the virus. The school’s goal was for all students to feel comfortable with online lectures. We were there whenever anyone had a problem, and always managed to find a solution together. This enabled me to help lots of students with their problems and to support them individually and personally.”

- Kerem Bayrak

The student will stand for the Faculty Board again next year. He believes that the work of being a Faculty Board member is a task that comes with a lot of trust and responsibility, something that allows you to make an impact.

Learning atmosphere benefits from productive exchange

Not only Kerem, but also Julia Fiermonte, a student of Physiotherapy and a member of the Faculty Board of the School of Therapeutic Sciences, emphasises the direct reference to matters concerning students: “A good learning atmosphere also requires effective interaction between students and lecturers. Particularly in times of the Coronavirus, I find it important that the different concerns of individual students are heard.” Julia has been studying at SRH University Heidelberg for more than four years, and sees the Faculty Board as an important university instrument. It gives her the opportunity to “get a glimpse behind the scenes and learn more about how our university works and is organised”.

Students’ opinions highly valued

Her colleague, Business Administration student Rachel Bender reports: “Faculty Board meetings were held three times a year, mainly online because of the Covid pandemic. During the meetings, we mainly discussed changes to types of examinations, as well as general issues regarding degree programmes, such as regulations for internships or semesters abroad. As student representatives, however, we were also able to present our own concerns, such as the establishment of a Faculty Student Council (Fachschaftsrat) or suggestions for improving the exchange of information within the School of Business.” She too wants to stand again because she thinks it is important that students also get involved in the Faculty Board. “The teaching staff’s appreciation of our opinions was a constant reminder of this,” she says. The student concludes: “I find the work of the Faculty Board very important and can strongly recommend it to all students wishing to contribute to the student body.”

Get involved

Are you too interested in getting involved in the Faculty Board? Then why not apply. The process of advertising the election of the Faculty Board will kick off on 27 October; the term of office will begin on 1 March 2022. We will keep you informed about this process here. And in our next edition of “Boards and Committees at our university”, you’ll find out more about the Senate, which will commence the process of advertising the election of student representatives on 10 January.

11. Oktober 2021 Jana Ladwig