- VP Education Candidate Interview with Samuel Dedman
- VP Education Candidate Interview with Alexandra Turda
Wessex Scene interviews Alexandra Turda, who is hoping to be elected as VP Education in the 2018 Union Spring Elections.
So, to start off, why have you decided to run for the role of VP Education?
I decided to run for this role because I’m really passionate about improving the student experience, especially from an academic point of view. Students are here primarily to get a good education so I think this is one of the most important areas to focus on. I have really enjoyed getting involved with academic representation in my previous years so I thought that this would make a good next step, bringing everything to a larger scale and trying to improve the student experience for the whole student body in all departments.
You state some ambitious reasons for running, do you have any experience that you think would make you the best candidate for the role?
Well, I have been an academic vice president for sociology, social policy, and criminology in my second year, and this year I am a course representative for third year criminology and psychology students. I have also got a lot of transferable skills from the year in employment that I did last year, such as time management, organisational skills, work ethic and it made me think more about the bigger picture.
Do you have any issues with how the current VP Education role is run and if so how would you solve them? What are your plans for improvement?
I think that the current sabbaticals are doing fantastic work, and I think it’s really important to act upon the issues that students raise – for example through the make change page – but I think that there are certain areas being overlooked. In my manifesto, I mentioned the guidelines and policies around special considerations, for example, because I feel that this is an area that people don’t really think about unless they know someone who is affected by it. I have looked further into it and I realised there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the guidelines, so I would like to improve them and make them more consistent. Another thing is the year in employment; I think it’s becoming more and more important for students to have work experience in addition to their degree. So many people have a degree now that graduates need to look for ways to enhance their employability. I also feel that there hasn’t been much discussion about how we re-integrate students after they come back from their year in employment, and what happens to them if there are changes in their courses or faculties during this time, so we need to think about these issues and put out clear guidelines and policies for them.
Ok, so in light of the UCU strikes, which are looking very likely to happen at the moment, how would you work with the university to increase representation for students?
I think it’s really important to make students aware of what is happening at every step, so we need to collaborate with the academic representatives and ask them to talk to their peers and make them aware of what is happening. We don’t want students finding out that their lecture is not happening at the last minute due to strikes. We need to have as much interaction as possible with these representatives and other media sources to keep students aware.
You’ve been very ambitious in your aims so far, and just to prioritise, if you were elected, what would be your three main focal points?
First of all, I would focus on University restructures, because there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this issue at the moment. We know there are going to be five faculties, but we don’t know exactly what will happen at a lower level. It’s tricky to say anything concrete about it right now because things will have been implemented by the time I would get into office, so I will just make sure that whatever decisions I make will be done so with students at the forefront of my mind. The second thing would be the special consideration guidelines because when students miss an exam or don’t achieve a pass grade, they are already stressed about it, so it’s a priority for me to make things simpler for students and avoid adding to their existing stress. Lastly, it would be focusing more – not just but more – on students doing their year in employment.
You’ve talked a lot about the year in employment, and have said that you want to make more information about this available to students, how do you think this would this improve their academic experience?
I think that getting work experience is vital, so knowing the opportunities available to students will put them at ease and increase their employability. It gives them a chance to get some experience, put their academic skills into practice, and when they come back into their final year and start looking for jobs it will make things easier for them knowing that they have something that might put them above other candidates applying for the same role.
You mention that your list of policies is not exhaustive, are there any other policies that you feel enthusiastic about?
I don’t want students who read my manifesto to think that previously raised issues are not in my mind, I want people to know that I am still thinking of the issues such as making more study spaces and cutting down printing costs that have previously been raised, and I will aim to finish whatever is unfinished if I get elected.
And finally, in your personal statement, you say that you want every campus to have all the facilities that students require, which facilities do you feel we are missing?
This point comes from other students based at other campuses who comment on the size of the library for example when they go to Highfield, and I do not want students to feel they are missing out. I want to work on making sure that all students have enough computers and appropriate study spaces as well as the little things such as whiteboards, printers, and water fountains. It is important to bear in mind that Highfield is a bigger campus, so of course it is going to have more shops and a bigger library, but I want to make sure that everyone has the things they need.
To find out more about Alexandra Turda and what she wants to achieve in a year as VP Education, read her manifesto here.