Published: 03-04-2024 14:00 | Updated: 03-04-2024 14:06

What is it like to be a student representative?

Student Manojj posing in front of Aula Medica.
Manojj is a student representative both on departmental and central level. Photo: Private

To see the changes you advocate for, the ability to make a difference in students’ lives and meeting new people. These are the things that KI student Manojj Dhinakaran likes most about being a student representative.

Manojj is studying the last semester of the Master’s Programme in Biomedicine. He has taken on not only one but two student representative roles: student safety representative at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC) and student representative on KI’s Internationalisation Board. The first position is on the departmental level and the latter on central level.

What do you do as a student representative?

My primary role in both positions is student monitoring, awareness and advocacy in different areas. For the position of student safety representative, I meet with stakeholders like the student union, students, programme directors, and others to understand the work environment. I also regularly monitor work safety, such as lab safety monitoring, within the department. For the Internationalisation Board, we meet with the group, the Education Council at Medicinska Föreningen (MF) and international students to hear their perspectives and needs.

How come you applied to be a student representative?

I am passionate about helping others and making a difference in people’s lives. The role of the student safety representative inspired me the most as it involved monitoring the well-being of the work environment in the physical, mental and social safety on campus. Similarly, the role at the Internationalisation Board helps me to better advocate for the needs of the students, by being a bridge between the students and the administration.

How much time do you spend on average on the roles?

As a student safety representative, I work about 1,5 - 2 hours per week. Initially, I had to put in more hours to get to know the Swedish legislation etc. The position at the Internationalisation Board requires less time. I spend about 2 hours per month, besides the monthly meetings.

Did you need to complete a training programme before starting?

For the position of student safety representative, I had to take a work environment safety course, a safety training workshop, and self-learning to help me get started at full capacity. The Internationalisation Board role didn’t require any training programme before starting. 

Can you influence how KI works by being a student representative? 

By bringing awareness to the various needs and perspectives a student has, I can help advocate what is the best practice. This leads to a discussion to perfect it, which then in turn can make change happen. So yes, you can influence how KI works to a certain level. 

A good example of this would be the accessibility to health care concerns for international students. My team and I raised awareness about the various healthcare needs and access challenges that many international students have. This brought many changes in the health care accessibility and structure on campus, which reduced the inaccessibility to international students. 

Would you recommend being a student representative to other KI Students?

Absolutely! It is fun and rewarding, despite the occasional challenges and hardship. It is a good way to learn and grow, personally and spiritually. Being a student representative teaches you patience, accountability, responsibility, and other essential virtues. Apart from that, to me, it is a way of giving back to the society that helped me grow, a way of gratitude, that amplifies in many positive ways.

Student influence

As a student at a Swedish university, you have a legal right to influence your education. You can do this in many ways, among others by:

  • being a student representative,
  • voting in the student union election, 
  • or submitting course evaluations. 

If you want to become a student representative, contact your student union.