Academic affairs candidates eye student reps and university experience

This year’s academic affairs candidates are looking into expanding the student reps system and bringing a better experience to students across campuses. We asked Dan Derricott and Ellie Marchant-Williams how would they set themselves apart from the current vice-president for education, and how would they ensure students’ actions are properly represented.

Dan Derricott

Age: 19
Course: L2 Management & Public Relations
Hometown: Bedworth, Warwickshire

What are the two main issues you want to tackle from your manifesto and how would you achieve them?

My manifesto is split into two sections, firstly I want to defend the education that students currently receive, ensuring that the cuts to both higher education and further education funding do not impact on the academic experience, particularly teaching and learning. The SU needs to be strategic, well informed and effective in its approach to protecting students and I believe that I’m the person to lead that effort.

The second part of my manifesto is all about extending what students on all campuses are offered by their union and the university, by improving the quality and quantity of feedback; identifying and reducing hidden course costs; centralising advice and representation; creating a system that nurtures talent and creates world-class student reps; improving postgraduate support and ensuring fair access for everybody regardless of campus.

How would you set yourself apart from the current vice-president for education?

I believe my drive and desire for improving the education of students on all campuses will be the first thing, and is something that has been clear all year.

I also have a real passion for ensuring that FE students and postgraduate students are just as represented as everybody else, hence my work at Riseholme and with student council this year. Plus my drive and innovative approaches to improving the student rep system have been clear from the outset.

If elected, the department would certainly adopt a different culture, one of ambition — where students are delivered the very best possible, and where students from all campuses are worked for each and every day.

How will you ensure your actions are representative of what students actually want?

Having worked all year on delivering a refreshed student rep system and improving student council, I can say that I have already helped bring the SU a long way in doing this. I recognise that we still need to go a long way before we truly represent students.

I think that my plans to develop the rep system will result in the Union being underpinned by an excellent academic representation structure that can feed down to the SU.

The SU really does fail in using survey data at the moment, if elected, one of the first things I’ll be doing is having a review of data (e.g. NSS results) from the last three years for each subject and then adding fresh data in August. This will provide both me and individual course reps with a clear indication of what students’ concerns are and what we should be doing.

Finally, the extensions to my manifesto highlight my support for groups such as the new postgraduate association. By upping our support of these groups, the SU will have a number of invaluable sources of student opinion to gauge their needs and views.

Ellie Marchant-Williams

Age: 21
Course: L3 English
Hometown: Grimsby, Lincolnshire

What are the two main issues you want to tackle from your manifesto and how would you achieve them?

I want to improve communication amongst students and academics across all campuses and I would ask students how they would like to see it improved. I aim to promote the student rep system and take steps that will encourage and evoke the confidence and passion for the role that I have gained over the past two and half nearly three years.

I want to show students how rewarding and beneficial it is to either be a rep or be represented by a student who is pro-active and cares. They are the link between academics and students; and by promoting and encouraging the advantages of the role of reps I believe it will result in a happier and more manageable university experience.

The other issue I want to really work with is amplifying the University of Lincoln’s community spirit, we are at an advantage that we are a small institute, yet I still think there is room for improvement. I will endorse and fully support the proposal of Research Engaged Teaching, which I believe will break down any gaps that are currently between our students and their tutors. Without effective communication we can’t take any steps, it’s vital.

How would you set yourself apart from the current Academic Affairs VP?

I fully support and value the work that Kayleigh, the current VP Education and Academic Affairs, has done in her time working for the SU. I can’t say I’m better or I have qualities that set me apart from her because I don’t believe that this is what this role is about.

I do believe that my passion, drive and determination are qualities that are imperative to getting respect from the student body. I want to carry on her work and develop the changes that have been made this year. I want to be an example to students and prove that you don’t need shed loads of experience to be perfectly capable of taking on the role and doing a fantastic job.

The SU is an organisation which supports the people challenging themselves and taking steps that will make a difference and I believe that I am the person who is right to be a part of this.

How will you ensure your actions are representative of what students actually want?

To ensure that I get the students what they actually want is done in one simple way, to talk to them, to find out what it is that grinds their gears and take steps to change and develop along with their needs and requests. I would also take every step I can to support them by making myself as accessible as I can. I want the students to know that I’m here, I care and that they have a friend in me, and I am here for the road ahead.

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