Hi! I’m Alejandro and I’m this year’s Deputy President (Education) or “DPE”. I’m a Canadian-Peruvian student who has just graduated from Mechanical Engineering at Imperial. I was an academic representative during all four years of my degree and was involved with several Clubs and Societies alongside my studies.
My role as DPE is to lead the Academic Representation Network which exists to ensure that the voice of students is embedded into all Departmental, Faculty and College level decision making regarding the student educational experience. Examples of this range from year reps pushing for local changes to lectures, tutorials and labs for their year groups, to Department and Faculty reps pressuring departments to improve their teaching quality to the DPE influencing College level strategies such as the Learning and Teaching Strategy and Student Support Strategy which will impact every student at Imperial.
You can find a summary of some of the headline projects that I’m working on here. I've also included some of the non-manifesto projects that I've been working on here. If you'd like to know more or how to get involved, feel free to get in touch!
Get in touch
Feel free to get in touch with me via email or Twitter! Alternatively, you can come by the Union Offices on level 2 of Beit for a chat.
I’m here for every student at Imperial College London for any issues related to their educational experience. You can get in touch with me in person, by email or through Twitter. You can often find me in the Union Building by coming to the Union reception on the second floor. I can’t guarantee I’ll be available at short notice but Reception will arrange a time for you to see me.
Here are my main priorities for the year:
- Produce NSS and PTES responses in record time and use them to drive for change
- Conduct a review of the UG and PG Academic Representation Network
- Spearhead student involvement in student-facing projects such as StudentShapers, Imperial Award and I-Explore
- Fight for improved feedback for students across Imperial
- Achieve over 2000 nominations in this year’s Student Academic Choice Awards (SACAs)
Progress I've made:
- We produced the two responses both in record time! You can take a look at them here. Shout-out to Fran and Leigh from the Education & Welfare team at the Union for helping me make it happen!
- I presented the responses at the College’s Learning and Teaching Committee and several Faculty level committees and disseminated the responses to departmental staff.
- All Academic Reps were equipped with these responses and the NSS data for their departments to keep the pressure on throughout the year, ensuring that departments stick to their action plans.
- Departments finalised their NSS action plans as part of the Annual Monitoring Process. These were released and approved by faculty staff, and the academic reps in those departments and I have been holding departments to account.
- The first College level NSS Working Group met on the 12th of December to discuss College level actions to be taken to improve the student experience. Becky (DPW) and I outlined the key areas that we think College should focus on which have since been incorporated into a list of actions for approval at Provosts Board.
- These conversations have since widened into discussions about the holistic student experience. The other Officers and I are now in conversations with College about getting principles and a vision of the student experience in writing in the new Academic Strategy.
- Through other committees and conversations myself and the Academic Reps have worked to get various recommended actions implemented at both department and faculty level. These address areas including exam timetable publishing, publishing of exam papers, better feedback turnaround times, more staff-student community building events etc.
Progress I've made:
- We’ve met with nearly all departments at Imperial College to discuss the current status of both UG and PG student representation within their departments and to identify areas for improvement.
- We’ve brought over 60 rep roles which were previously elected “offline” - “online” to make the election of those roles more inclusive and democratic.
- The new training that we developed this year has been delivered to over 240 reps and we have received an average overall evaluation score of 8.5/10 across all of our sessions. We have already made improvements based on the feedback and will do a larger review of training after this training round.
- I’m currently producing a plan for the rest of the Academic Rep Network Review including overall timeline, resource allocation and consultation.
- This project got put on hold for a couple months because the staff team that I work closely with and needed to implement this project suddenly lost two out of three of it's members!
- We carried out a pilot on Microsoft Teams as a collaboration and file sharing platform for Reps. It was discussed at Education & Representation Board where the reps agreed that it should be used across the network.
- We now have a plan and actions to carry out both this year and next year. I will share my vision for this project in the form of a blog post soon.
Goal 3: Spearhead student involvement in student-facing projects such as StudentShapers, Imperial Award and I-Explore.
Progress I've made:
- I’ve been working closely with the StudentShapers team to finalise the structure of the scheme and plan appropriate communication strategies.
- I’ve been working closely with the I-Explore team from College to provide student input into what the scheme should look like. Student feedback into the scheme last year resulted in the modules being changed to “Pass/Fail” modules which do not count towards degree scores to allow students to focus less on their grade and more on engaging with the subject.
- The I-Explore Module Innovation Group (IMIG) has had its first meeting where we discussed the vision for the scheme. The group will meet regularly to discuss resourcing and logistics.
- On behalf of the Imperial Award Steering Group I have decided to, together with the Student Development Team, consult PGT students on whether they would be interested in the Imperial Award and changes that need to be made to the scheme to cater to their needs and timeline – focus groups and a survey to be conducted before March.
- We finished the PGT consultation for the steering group and made several recommendations to the Imperial Award Steering Group on how to make the scheme better for PGT students. These recommendations included allowing students to reflect on experiences from before Imperial, more submission opportunities, better support mechanisms and aligning the language used in the marketing of the scheme to what PGT students want.
- I worked closely with the StudentShapers team to finalise the programme and filter project proposals. This summer, many projects will go live across Imperial with spaces for over 60 students.
- The development of the I-Explore programme has continued at a steady pace. I've been fighting for maximum choice and parity of experience throughout.
Progress I've made:
- I worked with staff from various departments on the feasibility of making some exam scripts available for students to see and use to help them improve their technique. Several have now implemented Pilots or full-scale availability of exam scripts.
- Following the Feedback Audit conducted by last year’s DPE, I’ve been pushing departments who score below average in the Assessment and Feedback section of the NSS to implement feedback monitoring systems.
- Feedback is a recurring theme at every education related meeting that I attend and every time it comes up I push for improvements and suggest changes that can be made. Several departments have included actions to address feedback in their Annual Monitoring Reports. That, coupled with student feedback, external pressures, willing staff and the work of my predecessors has led to feedback timeliness and quality, as well as mark scheme quality, being improving across College.
- This year, departments have largely focussed on the UG Curriculum Review where they have been mandated to decrease assessment burden (quantity and frequency) to give students more “breathing space” in their curriculum to digest content and reflect and improve based on feedback. The Reps and I have placed continuous pressure for departments to stick to their mandate.
- I was on the committees that approving the Curriculum Review plans that departments submitted. Most departments have made excellent changes to their curriculums and assessments (reducing workload and assessment, aligning assessment with Learning Outcomes) and are committing to adhering to the College’s feedback policy. Those that haven't received feedback from myself and the committee on how to improve their plans.
Progress I've made:
- This year I worked with staff and students to come up with three new award categories: Diversity & Inclusion Champion, Communities Champion and Student Wellbeing Champion. These have been very well received.
- We achieved 1566 nominations this year which, considering that the nomination period was only open for 3 weeks, was a massive success. Thank you to all of you who participated!
- All staff should have received their mugs and (where students gave permission) their nomination text. (Staff, if you haven't received your mug yet - check with the internal post office!)
- I have received dozens of messages from staff about how much the SACAs mean to them, especially the nomination text. This scheme is really special and does make a massive difference on the culture here at Imperial.
- Looking forward to the ceremony!
These are a top-level summary of other projects that I've been up to.
- Academic Regulations
- Becky, Rob and I have been heavily involved in shaping the new single set of Academic Regulations (the rules that govern things like mitigating circumstances, progression and failure, module sizes and year weightings) and have fought for the best for students throughout the process. In the past, every Faculty and Department had their own regulations - having one single set that apply to everyone at Imperial (while accomodating for the big differences in disciplines and modes of study) will lead to a more equitable student experience. These will apply to all students coming to Imperial from October 2019 onwards.
- Work with Leadership
- Leadership at the Union consists of the Officer Trustees and the Strategic Management Team (SMG). Work with Leadership has taken up a surprising amount of my time but has resulted in many foundational improvements to the Union and management of the Union.
- Work Efficiency Group
- I led the Work Efficiency group at the Union (a group tasked with implementing digital collaboration tools and a consistent project management approach) to adopt a change management approach to the implementation of the tools they developed.