What a year! Maia takes us through everything she achieved as VP Education as she takes on her new role as SU President. Highlights include the Queer Creativity Showcase, lobbying to keep the library open 24/7, and improving the personal tutoring system.
VP Education 2021/22
My year as VP Education has been unbelievably enjoyable, rewarding, and enriching. A huge part of that has been building relationships with students and turning your feedback into concrete change so I want to say a huge thank you to everyone I have interacted with this year!
Here are a few highlights:
Taking on this campaign and organising the Queer Creativity Showcase was such a passion project for me and it was one of the highlights of my life - let alone this year. Our calendar featured 13 events, run both by student groups and me. I knew I wanted to provide a space for queer creatives to show off their work and to say the success of the showcase exceeded my expectations would be an understatement: having artists, poets, comedians, and musicians all in one space created such an electric atmosphere. I can’t wait to brainstorm how to make it bigger and better next year!
Thanks to a student’s submission on Bright Ideas, I managed to lobby the College to keep the library open 24/7. So much of my work consists of long-term projects that current students may not feel the benefits of, so it was great to achieve a quick, tangible win for student voice!
This year, I worked very closely with the Director for Student and Academic Services and the Senior VP for Student and Staff Experience to ensure student feedback was at the heart of the College’s personal tutoring project. I co-facilitated an RH100 session and a Student Voice Conference session on personal tutoring and the findings from both fed into the proposed changes to the system for 2022/23. Fixing the personal tutoring system was on my manifesto for this year and I am so glad I got to work closely with College staff to achieve this manifesto point. The proposal addresses the major issues with the system and ensures that students feel fully supported by their tutors.
Sustainability is a huge passion of mine and this year, I wanted to empower student groups to reduce their carbon footprint. This summer, I am supervising a placement student who is creating a sustainability guide that will help societies and sports groups organise events in a way that minimises greenhouse gas production. There are currently no sustainability-themed resources on Freshdesk so I am really excited to have filled this gap to ensure that our students are carbon literate!
This year, I have been part of a major College project looking to change the structure of the academic year i.e. looking at semesterisation and assessment periods. I attended bi-weekly meetings where I spoke up for students and organised a focus group with School Reps and presented the findings to College staff; everything students expressed as a priority was included in all the shortlisted models and it was great to see student voice being taken so seriously in important College decision-making.
I made it clear to College staff that the accessibility benefits of online learning are important to students and should remain. I heard from students who were being disadvantaged by the strict temporary online access policy and raised the issues with the Senior Vice Principal who called a meeting with the Directors of Undergraduate Education. Academics now know the strength of student opinion on this issue and this is something I will continue to discuss with the College going into next year.
This year, I’ve been a member of 15 different College committees. In these meetings, I stand up for students and voice potential issues with policy/proposed changes to ensure that your voice is always considered. Lots of positive changes happen in these spaces as College staff find it really valuable to hear a student perspective and I’ve really noticed how important it is to have a sabbatical officer in these meetings.
Overall, it’s been an incredible year and I am so happy with what we’ve achieved. I can’t wait to continue doing what I love and work to improve student experience!
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX