Earlier this week, the blog was visited by Rebecca Linderholm who talked about her experiences of being a student representative. Today it is Matilda Byström's turn. She talks about her experiences as a student representative, what she wished she knew before and why student representatives are so important.
Hello Matilda! what is your assignment as a student representative?
I sit as a student representative in a reference group for an investigation that the government is doing about the nursing and midwifery educations in Sweden. The inquiry will partly make proposals on how Sweden should work to meet requirements, such as the time frame, which currently exist at EU level. It also looks at how our educations, together with healthcare, should meet the future competence needs in Sweden's healthcare.
During the spring, I also sat in a similar grouping for an investigation that looks at how, among other things, Swedish higher education institutions view the VFU activities within our nursing programs. Very exciting things in other words!
What did you learn during your assignment?
As a student representative, you learn things all the time! Everything from new advances in the area in which you operate, to gaining insight into how different organizations work. I think what I learned the most about during the many student representative assignments I have had is how to work with people. Something that you benefit from in all contexts.
What is the best thing about being a student representative?
That you can really influence. And not just that you have the opportunity, but that you as a student have such unique perspectives on various issues, perspectives that no one else from, for example, academia or business has. These perspectives can really make such a big difference in different processes and decisions and it's cool that I as a student can contribute with that, precisely because I'm a student.
What can a typical meeting look like?
At the moment, most things are done through digital forums, such as zoom or teams. That's probably a bit everywhere right now. We see each other for a few hours and often the meetings within these types of assignments are a bit more like workshops. We have some core issues for every time we meet. And then we turn and twist these questions together. We do not always have to agree, assignments in investigations and the like are more about collecting different points of view on things, and that makes it very rewarding. It's a very lively way of working!
Why are student representatives needed?
As I mentioned before, we students sit on completely unique perspectives. Often only the student representative (s) in the room have those perspectives and I can not stress enough how important they are! So many decisions and processes affect us students and affect our time at our universities. Of course, we must then be part of these processes and decisions. Otherwise, it will be as if the decisions are made partly blindly. We are one of the most important players in developing higher education, and everything related to it, in the right direction.
Something you wish you knew before you applied?
Now I have been a student representative for a little too long haha. But I think what I wanted to know before my very first assignment is that it is incredibly challenging to be a student representative, in many ways. But what you get out of it when you get through the challenges is absolutely fantastic.
I have grown so much as a person by being a student representative, and I was probably not prepared to do that to that degree. Of course, it is impossible to know that before you have dragged yourself through one or two thickets along the way, but I think I would have had a very cool drive there in the beginning if I knew where it would take me.
Student representatives are partly at the higher education institutions but also at the national level. Every year, SFS nominates student representatives to various national bodies. Are you interested in becoming a student representative? All student representative assignments are published here. Read previous blogs with student representatives here.