Education Officer Question Time

Candidate Question Time was last night where all your Full-Time Officer candidates took to the stage to answer questions asked by you!

 

We have given the candidates the chance to write written responses to some different questions we were unable to ask them. Have a read below for the Education Officer Candidates and remember to vote at https://www.goldsmithssu.org/democracy/elections/

 

Education Officer Candidates:

  • Delphine Bueche

  • Lauren Corelli

  • Hamna Imran

  • Natasha Rowan

  • RON

 

Delphine Bueche

Given that a lot of your time will be spent in committees such as academic board and learning and teaching committee, how will you better engage students with the institutional runnings of their academic experience?

Speaking first as a Department Rep, what we should do, and have not done enough in my opinion - and I include myself here - is to get back to the wider student body after these numerous committees, letting them know:

  1. Which issues were raised.

  2. Which solutions have been suggested.

  3. What the next steps are.

To do so, a more thorough engagement from the Reps to the students is necessary, starting with getting a consistent amount of feedback before heading to those meetings! Moreover, the implementation of a strong VLE forum involving open comments, and the creation of a newsletter sent monthly by Reps to students would allow the student voice to be heard much better! Every student should have the right to know the difference between Department Board meetings, Staff and Student Forums, Teaching and Learning Committees, Postgraduate Programme Forum, Undergraduate Programme Forum, etc. (Give me a shout for the definitions!) In my role as Education Officer, I would make sure that the Reps are properly supported by SU members of staff to put in place such structures throughout the academic year.

 

What are your plans in relation to postgraduate students and engaging with them?

  1. Consider alternative engagement forums specifically dedicated to Postgraduate Students, online and offline, on which they can freely share their needs and opinions. Contact hours are very low for numerous masters (and PhD/research degrees), which means it can be difficult to create a close-knit community. Such forums, with a closer focus on engagement, and integration, can be key to bettering their academic experience!

  2. Improve communications mediums (by email, in lectures and seminars etc.) to convey the opportunities that are already available, on campus and elsewhere!

  3. Support the SU part-time postgraduate officer in their duties to engage with postgraduate students by providing them with more funding to organise events, and benefit from the SU communication mediums, including the website, the newsletter and social media platforms.

  4. This goes hand in hand with regularly organising events geared specifically to a postgrad audience in order to build a wider community.

  5. Finally, include them in the wider SU community better: sports, societies, part-time officer roles are all there to be taken!  

 

What do you think is the most important thing that you would do to improve the educational experience of Goldsmiths students?

Consistency, in every aspect! This ‘most important thing’ can and probably will take years to implement, and we need to start now! Consistency in feedback and assessment policies, consistency in implementation of reasonable adjustments, as well as extenuating circumstances, consistency in departmental communication to their students, consistency in appointing Department Reps and Programme Reps, etc. Goldsmiths is an innovative, experimental and atypical university: it should remain so. This however should not be at the expense of its engaged and creative students! On the contrary, better organisation can only enhance every individual’s creativity, as it will avoid unnecessary stress and anxieties! 

 

18% of students are leaving Goldsmiths before the end of their course. What do you think can be done to stop this?

I had the chance to work on the Annual Department Rep project and report on retention this year (available online!), and got to interview some students who left university early! The reasons behind bad retention rates are numerous, and complex, and some students will always leave, but there are also many ways to considerably reduce non-continuation:  

  1. Goldsmiths needs to advertise their courses properly: some students leave because the university, and their degree, did not meet their expectations!

  2. Engage, and encourage foundation year students to stay on for a complete degree!

  3. Improve the wellbeing and disability centres: the services are overstretched and underfunded, and cannot properly take care of the students who need the most support and are at risk of leaving.

  4. Do not let your students leave so easily: the withdrawal form is currently one A4 page, and is a box-ticking exercise, no questions asked! A more thorough form, with a comments section, or a recommended exit interview for instance, might not only influence some students to stay, but would also help understand better why students choose to interrupt their studies to build strong and reliable data.

  5. Fight to build close-knit communities in each department: lack of integration or loneliness are often reasons which push students to stop their studies.

  6. As for PGR students (Postgraduate research) it is the lack of funding opportunities that push individuals to interrupt: more financial support in research degrees is essential!

 

Why should students vote for you?

Because I will not let you down! I have been engaged with both the SU and the College throughout my time at Goldsmiths, and I got to know everything inside out! I have competed in sports, have been President of a society, and have worked at the SU Welcome Desk. I’ve also consistently engaged with mature students, postgraduates and PhD students. With two years of experience as a Department Rep, I’ve had the chance to meet academic and admin staff from other departments, as well as members of Senior Management on Quality Review Panels, getting myself into heated discussions about education! I’m kind, but stubborn, and I promise you tangible results. I also promise that I will hold myself accountable and always update students about my work, and progress! With good vibes only!

 

Lauren Corelli

Given that a lot of your time will be spent in committees such a academic board committee and learning and teaching committee, how will you better engage students with the institutional runnings of their academic experience?

I think first and foremost you have to be visible right. How can you engage people in the first place if they don’t know who you are and you’re not on the ground? That first period of the year, Welcome Week and the weeks following, will be crucial for me to be about, speaking on what I’ll be doing and how I’m there to amplify and platform their voices. I’ve got experience in this from my time as a student rep. Then, every week I’d like to  do a live Instagram & Facebook Q&A, to fill people in on the weeks events, meetings, updates, and then they can chip in on what they think about what I’m doing / what they want doing. Student assembly also will be somewhere to keep people up to date with how what I’ve promised in my manifesto is going.

 

What are your plans in relation to postgraduate students and engaging with them?

It’s difficult because when you’ve often just got a year at Goldsmiths, and you probably work at the same time or have external responsibilities, getting involved isn’t always easy or a priority! But having said that, postgrads can often feel like they’re forgotten about, it’s important to make sure they’re included. I’d speak to outgoing postgrads about what they wished they had this year, and work out what’s popular and useful, as well as working with the part-time postgrad officer to ensure consistent and frequent opportunities for postgrads to meet up and find community. This year’s officer Shehzida has done lots of great stuff. I want to make sure Welcome Week has lots of emphasis on ways for postgrads to be engaged from the beginning of their time here. And of course, working with the postgrad student reps from across all departments at Goldsmiths will be key to understanding how they move through the uni academically, and how I can support them in my role.

 

What do you think is the most important thing that you would do to improve the educational experience of Goldsmiths students?

Making sure people feel like they belong here. So many of my friends, people on my course, talk about feeling like impostors in this space. As you can see from the work around the BME attainment gap, it affects more than just how you feel on a day to day basis. It’s unacceptable and heartbreaking that people feel like this. I want to approach this feeling structurally — how can we make sure with each department students always feel like there is someone there that has their back? That there is an obvious community each student can be part of? You would be surprised the impact this has on an educational experience.

 

18% of students are leaving Goldsmiths before the end of their course. What do you think can be done to stop this?

As part of my department rep role, I helped with the student-led research project on retention that explored this, where we also workshopped with staff to come up with solutions. Firstly, people leaving university will always be inevitable. Sometimes a course isn’t right, people have external commitments, and sometimes the price of uni just isn’t worth it! Three main points that came up though as reasons for leaving were: mental health. That’s why I want to: organise more robust pastoral care procedures within departments to support them when they need it; try and forge stronger student communities; make sure students are aware of the resources that are there to help them.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I’ve studied education for three years here at Goldsmiths and it’s taught me what it means to build inclusive spaces, how power structures in institutions reproduce inequalities, the critical importance of equity and community in this environment. I know people always bang on about their passion in moments like this, but ask anyone who’s got me talking on the British education system and they’ll tell you what my passion is. But at the heart I’m a nice person who is genuinely empathetic, who will always be there for a cup of tea and a bourbon when you need it. Then to fight your corner when you need that too. I’d love it if you could read my manifesto though - lots of juicy, good and important stuff here: https://tinyurl.com/y3fkphq

 

Hamna Imran

Given that a lot of your time will be spent in committees such a academic board committee and learning and teaching committee, how will you better engage students with the institutional runnings of their academic experience?

I am gonna try to better engage all of the students by working closely with student Reps in all of the departments and courses and listen to what they want and be their voice. I am gonna send around surveys and questionnaires for every course so that reps and also the students can answer and make sure they know what is going on and can get their voices heard.

 

What are your plans in relation to postgraduate students and engaging with them?

All of the things I am gonna focus on are for ALL of the students. I am going to push for more flexible/better timings for postgraduates, mature and parent students. Also, work with postgraduate parttime officers and reps and look into what their needs are and what they need from the SU.

 

What do you think is the most important thing that you would do to improve the educational experience of Goldsmiths students?

I think the main thing that I need to focus on in order to improve the educational experiences of students is making sure all the students have a voice in that way students can feel empowered and liberated not only during assessments but more around campus and in the SU because education is more than what goes on in classrooms.

 

18% of students are leaving Goldsmiths before the end of their course. What do you think can be done to stop this?

I will look into getting more resources for students, and also focus on what are the factors that are making them leave their courses. Students need better engagement and wider participation and organize more events to help get rid of social isolation. I will work around getting better support systems and have student-staff working groups, so students can feel more empowered and feel that they have a purpose and stay motivated.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I believe that students should vote for me because I’m an international student from Pakistan studying Applied Social Sciences, Community Development and Youth Work, running to be your SU education officer.

Background!

I am on the committee for the Pakistan society and have been proactive in other societies and events in the SU as well.

As part of my degree, I have done 3 placements working with young people and women which has really motivated and challenged me and made me passionate about working in the community and giving marginalised groups a voice.

What I stand for!

I believe that Education is a public good and not a business, therefore, students should not be treated like consumers.

The SU can influence our life on campus and our education in a lot of different ways. Hence, I took the decision to stand on behalf of all the students so that they can use the SU as a space to empower themselves and have a say in how their education system is shaped and run.
Liberation will be the primary focus of everything that I do. Mental health, wellbeing and one to one support for all the students will be my priority. I am standing to be YOUR voice.

I’m a student just like you and believe that equality, justice and accessibility are what we deserve!

Your priorities are going to be my priorities.
A vote for me is going to be a vote for you.

My main manifesto points are as follows:

Fight Against the Marketisation of Higher Education

Continue to take part in the nation-wide activism for free education

Get rid of hidden course costs

Boycott the NSS

A LIBERATED AND INCLUSIVE EDUCATION

  • Better support for student parents

  • Review the existing Extenuating Circumstances procedure

  • Review the current system of engagement with student
    Representatives and create a better network of support

  • Lobby for recorded lectures - which is crucial for all students and especially those with disabilities

  • Streamline the appeal process for remarking of assessments.

  • Flexible timetables and reading week for postgraduate students

  • Offer students options of diverse and more inclusive methods of assessment (i.e. students choosing to be assessed
    through essays, presentations, or report submissions etc.)

  • Continue to tackle the BME attainment gap

  • Decolonising the curriculum

  • Campaign for the reinstatement of the contact hours that have been cut in a number of courses

  • Campaign for more scholarships and funding for refugees

  • Push for more room availability and quiet spaces for students

  • Better support and continued guidance from departments for students that need to find placements

 

COMMUNITY

  • Free short courses for people in the local community

  • Student-staff working groups

    • Hold meetings between staff and students, to address accessibility issues, constructive critique of learning styles
      and sharing perspectives on education

  • Continue the work of “A Day in the Life of a Goldsmiths student” and broadening it to academic departments

  • Widening Participation - easier access for people from marginalised groups to attend Goldsmiths

  • Work very closely with all the SU part-time officers and student reps

 

Post university education - THE FUTURE

  • Work with the career services to be more open and cater to all students

  • Campaign for postgrad visas for international students

  • Continue the current officer’s work on “Alternative Careers Week”

#LETSMAKEITHAPPEN

 

Natasha Rowan

Given that a lot of your time will be spent in committees such as academic board committee and learning and teaching committee, how will you better engage students with the institutional runnings of their academic experience?

I want to hold and attend a termly student-staff-response forum, specifically to address the recurring and ongoing issues impacting students and identify changes that can be made quickly—such as essay turn around time, speeding up the release of exam timetables, to name a few improvements the forum could help with. I will invite academic/ business department managers and relevant staff members to these response forums, which can fall the week or two after student-staff forum and rejuvenate student assembly, reorganize it with an increased vigour on responding to the previous issues the last assembly addressed: If these forums could run by specific themes and key staff members can attend and be held accountable for addressing these issues, students will feel like their feedback has actually been taken in and responded to, and fast. A ‘YOU ASKED, WE DID’ approach to student feedback, not an end of year module evaluation, which impacts change too little too late.

 

Working with the LGBQT+ Community SU officer, I plan to hold a separate platform for this feedback termly to focus on issues impacting these students in particular, in the interests of further liberating students’ education and experience, and reassuring all students that their feedback is being taken seriously by Goldsmiths.  

I will attend all department representative meetings to see if there are recurring themes and problems department wide and based on the problems these meetings reveal, I can organise the student-staff-response forums which respond to any recurring issues.

 

What are your plans in relation to postgraduate students and engaging with them?

So much of my manifesto and campaign is focused around creating communities for ALL students at Goldsmiths. I want to move past the under grad- postgrad segregation that seems to happen at University by invigorating the Academic Communities initiative, funded by the SU. We already have post-grad reps, I want to research and see how we can make greater use of them in the SU, so events and issues specifically raised by post-grads can be addressed throughout the year. A termly POSTGRAD student survey will also help us make changes to post-grad modules faster, so postgrad students’ learning experience can be at the heart of what I focus on. The fantastic PAID Academic communities rep will be an incentive which encourages post-grad students to be involved and create friendships at university, but will also help them financially support themselves whilst they study. If part time jobs revolve around the university experience, there will be a greater sense of belonging and care amongst students, and a greater sense of integration: students will feel more confident to speak to and meet people on their course and in their departments. Post-grad students often have the added pressure of people reliant on them, paying rent and covering increasing tuition fees. This may affect the time and preparation they can give to actually preparing for a degree—I want to address this and offer these students increased support through extended academic skills centre workshops—aimed specifically at students who have out of uni commitments and would benefit from the extra support of professionals who can advise what makes a good essay, or a good project, rather than assume everyone starts university—even at post-grad level- with this set of academic skills.  

A lot of the postgrad students I’ve met have mentioned how important more study and communal space (just for chilling) is to them and something Goldsmith really lacks. I propose Goldsmiths launches an initiative to use the spaces which already exist in New Cross, Deptford and Peckham: alleviating the pressures of commute time and cost and extending the community of Goldsmiths beyond the library.

Studying in the community will enhance the university’s involvement and awareness of what goes on actually in our local community. This, in turn can encourage a different approach to teaching and learning full stop: a holistic approach to education; where what we learn can start to be reflective of what is happening in Lewisham, in South London: this will part of my LIBERATE YOUR DEGREE focus also.

 

What do you think is the most important thing that you would do to improve the educational experience of Goldsmiths students?

The most important thing, I think, is increasing information and organization and making changes students can see and be a part of. I want to implement response forums and regular feedback sessions, which can be integrated into seminars so students can feedback what they do and don’t like and think is working in their modules, so changes can be made THERE AND THEN. I want to create an independent LGBQT+ response forum platform so students whose issues are not addressed in the mainstream student assembly and student-staff forum have the opportunity to address issues of marginalisation and belonging. The students I have met and spoken to have so many ideas and know when they are feeling isolated or alienated in what they study, so focusing on this could have a major shift in student experience and learning. As part of this, I want to create paid BAME rep positions to ensure feedback from those minority groups is prioritised the same as any other department rep.

 

18% of students are leaving Goldsmiths before the end of their course. What do you think can be done to stop this?

INCREASE PASTORAL CARE AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT! There is a myth of meritocracy in the UK- that we all enter the university experience having had access to, and understood what we’ve learned at school. This is not the case—not everyone has had access to the same resources and experiences, and so by offering increased Academic Skills centre workshops, I want to make sure students with other priorities; student-workers, student-carers students with disabilities and student-parents are offered workshops to rejuvenate their skills and ensure that everyone’s degree is granted the space and opportunity to be as academically enriching as possible. Mental health, when caused by environmental factors can be triggered by loneliness and low self esteem. I think this is a crucial factor leading students to feel isolated, anxious and drop out. I want to address University funding and create more mental health care for students, but also investing in the student voice in paid academic communities reps will increase students socialising, feeling included and this will mean they have a support base in the first instance—students can discuss mutual areas of concern, make whatsapp and facebook groups and meet students with shared interests and communicate them with each-other before resorting to dropping out.

 

Why should students vote for you?

This is a very tricky question, and the usual responses are all true: I am very invested in the student experience, I have worked as a rep for two years so have some understanding of the issues which trouble students and priorities that need addressing, and have shown a consistent commitment to improving conditions for ALL students. But more than this: I REALLY REALLY CARE about changes we can make on the GROUND that students can SEE. I am, I hope, a very clear communicator and feel I articulate well what issues students want addressing and want to prioritize their voices, always, above my own.

I want International and home EU students, and students with disabilities (invisible or otherwise) to feel confident and welcomed to Goldsmiths in the first instance. I want to address this by offering a handbook which explains how the UK education system works, and mapping out key terminology we, as an institution assume everyone understands: like, what is the difference between a BA and MA degree? For eg, but the list goes on…

I want to rejuvenate student assembly and hold regular platforms for students to tell me what they care about and WHAT needs addressing as a priority. Student communal and study space is a big part of this, as are the pressures of feeling alone. I personally have to have a part time job to pay my way for studying at university and this financial strain SO many students are under and I am aware of that. This is why it’s so important to me to invest in students and prioritize their involvement in creating friendship groups through activities, organizing events to meet and encourage a sense of community. If we could use local spaces in Peckham, New Cross and Deptford for students to meet, socialize and study: we can address the feelings of isolation and anxiety, which only increase pressure and make students feel alone, and THIS is the primary factor, I have found which ruins student experience. I REALLY care about crushing feelings of loneliness and isolation for ALL students.