How Representation Works

How does Student Union represent the interests of students, and communicate them to the college? In order to understand what Student Union does, it is important first to understand the way the college functions.

How RCA is run…


  • The college is headed by Paul Thompson, the Rector, and the two Pro-Rectors.
    • Naren Barfield takes care of the academic standards of each programme. He also manages the Head of Technical Services, Abid Qayum, who oversees the operation and access of each workshop & its technicians across the college.
    • Richard Benson is the Head of Operations – or everything that has to do with the RCA’s buildings and facilities.
  • The Pro-Rector (Academic) works with the Deans of the 6 Schools –  who oversee the direction of the programmes.
  • The Deans are answered to by the Heads of Programme of each programme. The head of programme for your course manages the organisation of your curriculum, tutors, and activities.
  • Your Tutors and the Programme Administrator answer to the Head of Programme.
    • The Senior Tutors are full time teachers, with whom you should have regular contact.
    • External Lecturers are invited on a by-lecture basis.

Programme Representation

On the level of your programme, terms and regulations state that student representation is mandatory. A few of your peers should be elected to represent your feedback, needs and concerns at SU and college meetings throughout the year.

  • Student Experience Envoys – Depending on the number of pathways in your programme, there should be one SEE who represents the experience of students on that pathway and gives feedback on where the curriculum and resource management can be improved. They will be key figures in the Programme Forum, the Programme Review Committee, and meet with the Head of Programme for an update once a month on how things are going with the students.
    • *The number of SEEs can be different for 1st years and 2nd years.
  • Student Council Reps – To represent the year group of your programme as a whole in college-wide matters, there should also be a Student Council Rep who represents the overall needs and concerns of your programme, both academically and operationally. They will be responsible for any issues arising internally in your programme, and vote on important college decisions as a part of the Student Council, and co-chair School Assemblies. The Student Council Rep role can be fulfilled either by one of the SEEs, by the SEEs on rotation, or be elected as a separate rep altogether. We will call attendance on each programme during student council meetings so please be sure to take care of attendance.
    • There is 1 Student Council Rep  each for both 1st and 2nd years.
    • For programmes of more than 40 students, there is an additional Student Council Rep per 10 students.

You (all students)

  •  All of the above individuals work together to provide you with the best postgraduate art and design education available. If you have a certain issue or suggestion regarding your programme, we are here to help you figure out where to go. Remember that the Programme Handbook provided to you by your Head of Programme is your contract. 

What SU does…

representation structure


 SU and the College

Your Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers will represent you in several administrative meetings and committees which are responsible for the decisions made regarding your curriculum, studios and facilities, and college-wide policies. They are:

  • Council – The highest governing body of the college. This is a meeting with the Rectors, Pro-Rectors, Finance, Buildings and Estates, members of staff, and external Trustees, to discuss the college’s strategic plan and direction.
    • JCM (Joint Consultative Meetings) – Joint meeting between college management and the Unions (including the SU, Staff and Technician Unions) Discusses college buildings, staff practices, security, and facilities.
    • Equality and Diversity Committee – Ensures the best practice of the college in regards to equality and diversity, both amongst staff and students.
    • Health and Safety Committee – Ensures the best practice of the college in regards to health and safety.
      • Environmental Committee
  • SMT (Senior Management Team) – A fortnightly meeting between the Rector and Pro-Rectors to discuss college strategy and operational matters. 
  • Senate – once a term with the Rector, Deans of School, academic, administrative, and technical staff representatives, with overall responsibility for the college’s academic direction.
    • ASC (Academic Standards Committee) – Discusses the organisation and quality of your programme
      • Learning and Teaching Committee – A committee co-chaired by the SU, with 7 members of staff and 7 students, to discuss learning and teaching practices in the college.


Student Representation Meetings

The Students’ Union also runs a number of meetings between Reps to report feedback, problems, and issues, discuss and debate key college-wide policies, and exercise the power to vote on motions.

  • School Assemblies
    • A short, semi-formal meeting to discuss in a student-only, confidential setting the problems and issues encountered by the programmes within a certain School.
      • With all programme SEEs, SCRs, and any interested students who would like to come along – coffee is provided!
  • Student Council
    • Meets to present information and changes, discuss and vote on the student viewpoint on school-wide issues and motions. In this council voting takes place according to regulations.
    • With all voting Student Council Reps from each programme, observers, and guests.

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Representatives & the College

There are a number of meetings with college staff that Student Representatives are invited to to present feedback.

  • Senior Leadership Team
    • A meeting with the Dean of your School and the Heads of Programme of that school to feed back on the direction & strategy. You will be invited to this meeting by the Student Union on unreserved business (any issues not pertaining to individual students or staff members)
  • SU and Technical Services

    • All SEEs and SCRs  are invited to the Technical Services Forum with the Head of Technical Services once a term to troubleshoot any technical difficulties or feedback they may have.
    • Research students have their own Research Technical Services Forum, specific to their concerns, also once a term.