11 February 2020
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at the Students’ Union
As the VP Education, my role is extremely varied. I attend lots of meetings with key figures at the University to represent students on general and faculty related cross-campus issues, implement policies that students have passed at Student Council and represent students on wider issues such as industrial action and most recently, the coronavirus outbreak.
Talk us through any exciting projects you are working on at the minute
This term I’ve been focusing heavily on Course Representatives. There’s no current definition of Course Reps in the SU, so I’ve introduced a bylaw to help to tackle this. This will improve touchpoints between the SU and the University and will ultimately help to support students better.
What are your plans for the Students’ Union over this academic year?
I’m undertaking a review of the Academic Advice Service in the SU by looking at our existing data and identifying where we need extra resource to help fill the gaps. This means that we can improve how we handle changes such as the shift to semester-based exams.
What have you achieved from your manifesto so far?
One of my key aims is to improve the education experience with a better use of our technology, a prime example being enhancing the Queen Mary App which we’re making good progress with.
I’ve convinced e-learning to carry out a pilot of recording workshops and seminars in Science and Engineering, especially where problem-solving activities are involved.
There’s also Study Well, which I think went really well at the start of this semester, with a range of events and activities on offer from the University, SU and external companies. All events were fully booked and there was a lot of engagement across campuses.
The Democracy Review has been another massive achievement; amongst other roles, the creation of faculty-specific Executive Officer positions will mean that we’ll be able to support students better on an individual basis.
Who are the staff members you work closely with in your role?
The key people within the SU would be my fellow Executive Officers, our Education Coordinator Leigh as well as Mike, our CEO, who have all been really helpful with getting projects up and running. At the University it would be Professor Stephanie Marshall, VP Education and Simon Jarvis, Head of Student Wellbeing.
What’s the issue you’re most passionate about?
It would definitely be addressing the BAME attainment gap. At Queen Mary, where over 60% of students are BAME, I think it’s particularly important that the University and SU continue to work together to improve this.
Why do you think it’s important for students to share their feedback on the student experience?
I think the key thing to mention is that student feedback plays a vital part in helping the University to determine what works well and what they should continue to do, as well as identifying which changes should be made to help enhance the experience that students have at Queen Mary. They use this data in meetings and so many actions come from it, such as making the Library 24/7, more student lockers and better run services. In filling out surveys such as the NSS, UKES and PTES, you’re continuing the cycle of benefits for future year groups, to make sure everyone’s time at Queen Mary is the best it can be.
Why do you think it’s important for there to be a student voice?
I think it’s important in two ways; it enhances the student experience. If you’re spending your money and time here, you should be able to shape your experience and get what you want from it. If opportunities aren’t available, this is your chance to make that change because the University is listening and wants to hear the views of the people that their policies affect; their students.
Secondly, it’s about making your voice heard on the issues you care about, such as welfare, education and political matters. By voicing your opinion, you’re influencing how key decision-makers can shape things for the better.
What advice would you have for someone who is considering running in the SU elections?
Feel free to fail but don’t be terrified of regret. I wasn’t the most engaged student at university until my final year, so I’m proof that it’s never too late to get involved. It’s changed me for the better and I’ve developed lots of skills for life outside university. Don’t be afraid to make your opinions known as someone will be feeling the same way as you and someone at the SU and University will be there to listen.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Any interesting hobbies?
I’ve just finished taking part in the RED January challenge, which promotes positive mental wellbeing through exercise, which is something I’ve always enjoyed. I went for a run every day which has improved my wellbeing and my fitness. I want to continue exercising every day throughout the year, from things like dance classes with friends to doing yoga from videos on YouTube.
What’s your 2020 reading list?
I didn’t do much reading outside of my textbooks at uni, but I picked up my first book straight after graduating. I’ve moved from fiction to reading a lot of self-improvement and reflection books. I’m currently reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, which is all about understanding your thought processes and how and why you react to things. Another one on my list is Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life what would it be?
It would have to be Forever Young by Alphaville. I was last listening to it over the weekend – it’s a classic!
To find out about the candidates running in the Students’ Union elections, click here.
If you are a final-year student and you wish to complete the NSS, click here. You can claim a £5 gift voucher to redeem at selected campus catering outlets for taking part!*
*Just forward the email you receive on completing the survey, including your name and student ID number, to email@example.com. We will send you your £5 voucher within two weeks. This reward is available to those who complete the NSS by Monday 17 February.