UCL History student Martin Lopez Howe named Academic Rep of the Year 2022!

5 July 2022

The Academic Rep of the Year Awards celebrate those reps who went the extra mile to represent students and have worked with staff to make student’s academic experience better. We spoke to Martin about winning this prestigious award!

Martin Lopez Howe

Hi Martin – congratulations on being named Academic Rep of the Year for 2022! Can you tell us a bit about the role?

Thank you! The Academic Rep's job is to be the first point of contact between students and staff: I bring up concerns and ideas from my course to the Department. I do that particularly at the Student-Staff meetings, where I represent my Ancient History cohort and bring up issues like the workload, access to libraries, or the content of classes. 

I can talk to staff members, other Reps, to the Lead Rep, or volunteer for one of the Department's committees to make more of a difference. For example, I've been on the Library Committee for the past two years. There, I was able to lobby for the Archaeology Library to be opened during the pandemic, or ask them to fix the heating issues that shut down the Main Library in December this year. 

Why do you think the role of Academic Rep is so important and why should other students follow in your footsteps?

Like many other roles at university, the position of Rep is essentially what you make of it. The Department can't magically know what students need or like, though, which is why Reps carrying their voice are important. I understand that there isn't massive student engagement with Reps, but every issue signalled, every problem solved, is a good thing, even if you're only basing your feedback on a problem that you've encountered as a student.  

I've been a Rep for as long as I have because no one else would do it, which is a shame for such a potentially important role. What I learnt in those 3 years was that, even though change is not always possible, Reps' contributions can only be positive. It's a small role on the scale of the degree, but together with other Reps and over time, significant improvements can be made to the student experience in the course, in the Department, and at UCL.

You're in your final year of your BA Ancient History Degree – what are your plans for the future?

Ancient history at UCL has been fascinating as well as constantly refreshing, and I have taken many opportunities to engage more with it, like the Ancient History Society or UCL's ancient world journal, Synaphe. Being a student rep just gave me more opportunities to interact with our brilliant staff and enthusiastic students. I will be pursuing my passion at Oxford next year, on a Master's in Greek and Roman History, and after that I hope to complete a doctorate (perhaps here at UCL!) to enter academia. So the future is looking quite busy, but I'll definitely be visiting when I can next year!