They know what is going on among students, keep their finger on the pulse and participate in different councils and boards. Five representatives tell us more about their role.
"We want to have a good picture of what is going on among all students"
Jeffrey De Rycke, master student economics: “I ended up on the education council thanks to a good friend. I was always very interested in the quality of education anyway. The council includes representatives from all parts of Ghent University, all with the same goal: to ensure a quality education. As a student representative, it is my job to be proactive in coming up with ideas and giving feedback on decisions. We want to have a good picture of what is going on among all students. It’s why we launched a survey both last semester and at the end of the previous academic year. Among other things, the surveys showed that students were very concerned that they would not reach the expected level because of the modified lessons, because of corona. This is very useful information to take to the Education Council.”
“It is now all the more important to represent the students well”
Thalita De Cuyper, 3rd bachelor in criminology: “I am a member of the Ghent Student Council, the umbrella student body for all faculties at Ghent University. My role is to maintain close contacts with the students and to bring together all student representatives from the other faculties. Because of the corona crisis, our work has changed a bit. In the past, our job also meant having fun and socializing. Now, only the work remains and it is more difficult to make contacts. At the same time, it is now all the more important to represent the students well and to be aware of what is going on. If we notice a particular problem, we either pass it on to the necessary authorities or deal with it ourselves. This ranges from a problem with class schedules to suggestions for communication with students.”
“The last months the focus has been on the mental well-being of the students”
Celine Callewaert, bio-engineer, master environmental technology: “I have been a member of my faculty’s student council for a few years now. Five years ago, a representative came to speak in class and that motivated me to stand for election. That’s how the ball got rolling. What does it involve exactly? A lot of meetings and talking to people (laughs) … with the main objective being to defend the students’ opinions. It can be about small ad-hoc matters such as maintaining a bicycle shed, but also about long-term and structural issues. The last few months the focus has been on the mental well-being of the students. This is where we really try to offer as much support as possible. If you have something on your mind, no matter how big or small, be sure to tell it to your student representatives within the faculty. We can only try to solve the problems if we know them.”
“For all problems, questions and remarks, you can always come to us”
Tim Ongenae - short Bachelors in Italian Language and Literature and Advanced Master’s of Linguistics: Linguistics in a Comparative Perspective: “I am president of the Faculty Student Council of Literature and Philosophy (StuArt) and I represent students in the Faculty Council, Education Quality Assurance Committee, in the Policy Committee and in the Language and Literature Program Committee. With StuArt, we try to convey to the university what is going on with the students. For example, many students feel that lessons on campus are a positive stimulus for their mental well-being. We therefore requested to be allowed to have lessons on campus during code red in the first semester. We succeeded, until the government announced a new general lockdown shortly after the start of code red. In the second semester, however, there will again be a number of classes on campus and once again, we have appealed that as many students as possible may have the opportunity to attend classes on campus at least once a week. I think we have succeeded with that. For all problems, questions and remarks, you can always come to us. We will always be happy to help you!”
“I think it’s very important that students are represented in decisions”
Cathérine Smets - educational master’s in behavioral sciences: “I am active on several councils: the faculty student council, the education quality assurance committee and the education committee of the educational masters itself. They are easy to combine. The meetings take place once a month and I like being in contact with the other students this way. We need to know what’s going on. Today, for example, there is a big problem with internships … many students can’t find a place to go to. We are now more important than ever, but all offline channels have disappeared. Fortunately, we also stay well informed through social media and other online channels. I think it’s very important that students are represented in decisions. We are the customers of Ghent University, our voice is important.”
These three student representatives have a warm heart for their fellow students
A lot of students make an important commitment during their studies as student representatives. Meet three of these student representatives and find out what their commitment means for themselves and for Ghent University.
Does student representation boost your career?
Ghent University is organizing internal elections at the end of April to appoint student representatives. Internal elections may not sound particularly exciting, but it is important for students to have representatives on the highest governing and advisory bodies. Why? That's what Professor Stijn Baert, politician Thijs Verbeurgt and student Ruxandra Bighiu tell us.
What do student representatives do for you?
You might not always see them around, but during their studies quite a few students take on an important commitment - that of student representative. They have a voice on a variety of Ghent University councils and commissions, where they look after their fellow students’ interests. Meet four of these vital student reps.