What would you do to improve Education at the University?
Welcome to the New Roaring Twenties. Imagine a degree that means more, with real social impact. Imagine a community that equally supports undergraduates, master’s and postgraduate research students. If I am lucky enough to be re-elected and work for you again, I will launch “Brighton 2020: A New Deal”, a wide-scale campaign that continues to transform education.
Imagine being able to access your learning 24/7. As your current Vice President Education, I worked with your Students’ Union to successfully lobby the University to introduce lecture capture technology, securing significant financial investment. You will now have audio and visual recordings, offering a revision tool for all students and a more inclusive experience to student parents, carers, international students and those with visible and invisible disabilities.
Imagine education that is borderless. In addition to campaigning for increases to maintenance income, I will collaborate with national organizations to extend work rights for international students and protect EU students’ eligibility for home fee status and access to student finance.
Imagine education that prioritizes your wellbeing by eliminating bunched deadlines and hidden course costs, while easing regulations around resits. This year’s work supported the development of social learning spaces, more efficient course organization and better working timetables.
Imagine a liberated education. In the context of the black, Asian and minority ethnic degree awarding gap, I will lobby to train and fund the employment of BAME student advocates linked to each School to actively work on enhancing representation and decolonizing the curriculum.
Imagine extended supervision for your dissertation through the implementation of undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation cafes – open to any discipline, with trained tutors.
Imagine personalized communication. In my role this year, your Union has worked with the University to enhance Student Central with plans to move to an upgraded system.
Imagine an energised commitment to addressing all strike matters by effectively working with local and national stakeholders for a swift resolution. Imagine a new mechanism, which supports students who have been impacted academically, financially and emotionally.
Imagine all of this and more.
What would you do to improve the Employability of students?
As your current Vice President Education, I have worked with the University to establish an integrated master’s with placement degree for domestic and international students, easing visa restrictions to provide a two-year visa upfront.
Next up, I will collaborate with the Careers team to develop a bespoke model and lobby the University to diversify relationships with potential employers and placement providers, while also utilizing the network of alumni to support graduate employability among current students.
Implement the electronic HEAR, which logs and details extracurricular achievements, to show employers key skills through an officially approved document.
Conduct a review of all course assessments so they include a meaningful degree of applied learning built in, which is credit-bearing in case you do not wish to pursue a placement.
This year, I have campaigned with the UK Council for International Student Affairs on post-study work rights so students who change courses and Tier 4 part-time postgraduates can apply.
How would you make the Union and the University more Inclusive?
As Vice President Education, I will ensure students with visible and invisible disabilities are truly supported to thrive and that spaces are more accessible. I will collaborate with the University to improve learning support plans, making the approval process more efficient and ensuring students receive a copy suitable for use within placements or for employment purposes.
Tackle racism and sexual misconduct through an awareness raising campaign that establishes a recognition scheme for staff and students who positively contribute to addressing it, in addition to embedding effective inclusivity measures in staff recruitment.
Develop a new strategy for each campus that increases SU services and visibility, as well as ensuring the University adopts a plan that takes core activities across all campuses.
As your current VP Education, your Union successfully lobbied for a transformation of the timetabling system so that the teaching week is condensed, which is now going to be trialled to ensure greater flexibility, particularly for the nearly 30 percent of commuters.
How would you improve the Welfare of students?
As Vice President Education, I will be launching an affordability plan to address distress resulting from financial burdens and hidden course costs, as well as the rising cost of living, accommodation and transport. This will also focus on reassessing bursaries and hardship funding. My time in the role has seen the requirement of printed assessments being reduced and I will lobby for a free printing allowance, in addition to a second bus with expanded hours.
Improve student finance, including a reform to maintenance support, the schedule of instalment payments, means-testing and the cost of childcare and travel expenses.
Publish exam schedules and timetables earlier. This year, having successfully advocated for a trial that removes early starts and late finishes, I will now work to eliminate long gaps, extend the opening of facilities beyond 5 PM and expand the UniZone.
Having lobbied for supervisor mental health training, the wellbeing of master’s and research students must to be prioritized by creating a system of guidance tutors tailored to their needs, while also increasing the number of SSGTs available to undergraduates.
How would you improve Communication between the Union and students?
As Vice President Education, I will establish a forum that alternates between campuses and is live-streamed, during which students can question officers, in addition to operating an open-door policy for all Course Reps and the entire student body.
This year, I have been working with the University on developing an app called “My Brighton” which offers you a personalized approach to receiving information, especially regarding the SU.
Empower student activists and grassroots organising networks through space and resources, as well as hosting events that reflect both local and national issues.
The Union’s current strategic plan runs until 2021, at which point a consultation will be initiated so you can directly shape the upcoming strategy, in addition to reviewing the officer roles.
This year your Union held a Listening Campaign across all campuses to survey students on the future of student centres and information desks, with your feedback now being implemented.
What qualities or experience do you have that would you make a good full time officer?
I have been very lucky to serve you as the Union’s current Vice President Education and while my role is primarily academic, I believe in a holistic approach, working across various fields this year, including accommodation, societies, events, liberation campaigns, estates, data, IT and equality and diversity. My role on the University’s governing body, the Board of Governors, has seen me advocate the issues most affecting you. In addition, I have served as a Trustee on the Union’s board, acquiring experience with regard to strategy and financial operations so that our services are meeting your needs and interests.
Through my role, your Union worked with the University to conduct a consultation on postgraduate courses, resulting in the highest level of student engagement and successful recommendations for delivering a new employability package that also eases visa restrictions.
This year, we launched the Bi Visibility Campaign to address biphobia, while also commissioning research on the experience of students from the LGBTQ+ community to implement effective measures against discrimination and reshape accommodation based on this. I was also part of a working group which led to the approval of an institutional Inclusive Practice Policy to ensure adherence to the 2010 equality Act and develop inclusive courses and modules that deliver accessible teaching experiences. I believe in the need to shift the culture by making an impact through effective engagement with regulatory and public authorities, having led consultations on the admissions process and harassment and sexual misconduct to ensure greater accountability measures. Additional highlights of this year include supporting the election and training of over 900 course reps, helping establish a record number of academic societies, in addition to organizing a general election debate with Brighton Futures, Law and Debating Societies to directly lobby politicians on the issues impacting students, including sustainability, maintenance income and the rising cost of living. I firmly believe in representing the voice of all students, which was why the Listening Campaign exercise this year was approved to ensure that student information desks and services are equal across campuses. I believe in bringing everyone to the table and working together, in real partnership, having served on all 12 School level educational committees this year, directly working with academic and professional services staff on your priorities. This includes lecture capture recordings, which has now been achieved, despite the great financial resources that were required and the complex policy surrounding it.
I previously interned with the United Nations Children’s Fund and volunteered at Oxfam, acquiring hands-on experience with dismantling structural inequalities to enable access to education for underrepresented groups. While studying law last year, I was a Course Rep and served on the committees of the Law, Debating and Amnesty Societies, learning about effective public advocacy and charity fundraising.
Being deeply passionate about international human rights law, I came here from the Middle East for a degree, but I received the most meaningful learning experience by working for you. Thank you for sharing your stories and thank you a million times over for this opportunity. This campaign is your campaign and ultimately, it’s a vote for each and every one of you, with tangible local and national outcomes. Let’s remain inspired and let’s keep imagining but know this: it’s the Roaring Twenties and all those imaginations can become your new reality.