The Vice President Education represents students and campaigns on matters relating directly to students’ education like teaching quality, library provision and feedback. They are responsible for implementing many of the Union’s education policies and work closely with Academic Presidents, Faculty Officers and Course Reps to improve students’ education experience whilst also defending students’ academic and educational issues and rights, acting as the lead student representative.
Name: Sophia ‘MAMMA MIA’ D’Angelico
Subject: BA Spanish and French
Experience: I was a course rep for the first three years of my degree, and now in my 4th year I am Academic President of Modern Languages. In my second year I won a course rep of the year award for my contribution to designing a new languages resources room.
Main Manifesto Points: Feedback should be more structured and ON TIME! I propose setting up a framework where department which can’t release feedback on time will have to justify why and let students know when feedback will be available! A stronger Course Rep system – More training, more support and better communication! Making careers information tailored to YOU! Decentralise careers information. Record ALL careers lectures – and provide access to them until up to a year after you graduate. Setting up Alumni networks to provide career information and advice! More support and better communication for combined honour students. Strive to digitise ALL CORE course texts – to minimise hidden course costs!
Is there anything the current Sabb has done that you would have done differently? I would put more focus on supporting and maintaining the course system I don’t feel the course reps have had enough support or training this year. I feel that making sure the Course Rep system is strong is vital in order to make sure students’ academic needs are represented!
What sets you apart from the other candidates? My four years experience of the course rep system and my passion for working to get the most out of our degrees! A vote for me is a vote for someone who won’t let you down!
Name: Shaun ‘The Sheep’ Coston
Subject: BA History
Experience: My direct experience of positions of power within SUSU has undoubtedly limited but I have been engaged strongly with SUSU over my time at University through a variety of clubs and societies. What i do have is an experience of the myriad of problems students have faced that have been not been well enough addressed for far too long.
Main Manifesto Points: My manifesto can be split into 3 area. The first area is the direct educational experience, where I would focus on, amongst other things, making feedback faster and more personal and moving away from the one size fits all system the University currently tends towards. I would also try to improve representation of the average student by making focus groups more inclusive and setting up forums were students can give totally anonymous feedback on anything at any point to ensure no opinion is left unheard. I would also focus on continuing the good work in the library and finally make video recorded lectures the absolute standard across as much of the University as is feasibly possible. The 2nd area of my Manifesto focuses on the Educational experience beyond the classroom setting where I would focus on massively increasing SUSU involvement in Careers giving a student and alumni perspective to other students on life after University. Another key point of my manifesto was student lead learning, enabling students to gain relevant cross-curriculum skills. This model of teaching already exists in some area but I would expand upon it and make knowledge of student lead learning sessions far more widespread. Finally I would focus on ensuring good value for money for students by trying to digitise core text books were possible and increasing the use of soton swap or book fayres ensuring key texts are available as cheaply as possible. I would also focus on removing hidden costs from areas such as graduation and would lobby the University to offer print credits to students.
Is there anything the current Sabb has done that you would have done differently? The work done on the 24 hour library has been a step in the right direction but I think the focus has been too narrow. Not enough has been done over the year on other areas such as improving feedback or working to ensure that the students are better represented by SUSU which I would work to achieve through offering rewards for long term participation in focus groups and providing space for anonymous feedback.
What sets you apart from the other candidates? Though some may see my lack of experience as a negative I would say that it is what sets me apart from other candidates. I am here to provide a fresh set of eyes on a series of old problems that have gone unresolved for too long. I don’t think it is realistic to expect people who have come through the SUSU system to be approaching the problem from an original perspective and are more likely to be offering old solutions that do not work and are not in touch with the student population as a whole.
Name: David Heard
Subject: Physics with Mathematics
Experience: Current Student Trustee
Main Manifesto Points:
- Empower Course Reps, Academic Presidents: Give them ownership of the Representation system.
- Conduct a thorough review of into the support given to Joint Honours students.
- Ensure that students requiring the support of the Assistive Technology Services are catered equally to students who don’t require that service by guaranteeing 24 hour availability of ATS computers.
- Encouraging subject societies to set up Peer Support networks with support from SUSU.
- Emphasise to Careers the importance of extracurricular activities and give students help in translating students’ experience in extracurricular activities into an excellent CV.
Is there anything the current Sabb has done that you would have done differently?
I would have communicated more about the progress of long term projects, and I would have publicised the work of the Faculty Officers / Academic Presidents a lot more.
What sets you apart from the other candidates? What sets me apart is that I am looking for real solutions to long term problems.
- Many of the issues mentioned by students are all things that can be addressed by strengthening representation to your department, your faculty or the University in general. Other candidates will solve this problem by promising to do all of it themselves. While this is a laudable ambition, I feel that the real solution is in empowering Course Reps, Academic Presidents and Faculty Officers in order to improve representation across the board. There is only so much that one person can do, but if they work to improve the abilities of others, then the effects of that one person’s action is so much larger.
- The other candidates identify many more problems and issues than I do, but then provide an empty statement saying that they will try and fix these issues, with no real detail as to how. When I have identified an issue, I have gone into detail about how I will resolve it. My policy on Joint Honours includes a promise that the review will be conducted in September to December, with a report to be presented to the University in January for implementation in Semester 2. The same can be said about my policies on 24 hour ATS provision and Peer Support.
A summary of Wednesday’s VP Education debate between these candidates can be found here.