A Year As Vice President Education

The academic year has ended, and it seems incredibly bizarre that this journey began a year ago, and that you all put your faith in me to take on the role of VP Education.

It has been an incredibly busy year, both in the Higher Education sector, at Royal Holloway and also more specifically, at the Students’ Union.

What has it all been like?

It has been an absolute whirlwind. The year really has whizzed by, and at times it has been difficult to really reflect on everything going on, with lots of plates spinning, and lots of fingers in many pies. As a student, I was never a course rep, so it has been fascinating to witness, first hand, all the fantastic work that our academic reps have undertaken this year. Over the Summer Term, and throughout the whole academic year, we have been working behind the scenes to overhaul the academic representation system – and the payoff has been huge.

Change is certainly the word of the year, in my opinion.

A change in how we do academic representation, a change in how the University conducts their processes and administrative support, a change in how we lobby on key issues such as lecture capture – and more change being planned, such as adjusting our academic representation system again, exploring new ways to represent underrepresented groups on campus.

I hope that this year has demonstrated the efforts that we have made to be more ‘out there’ and campaign hard for your experience at Royal Holloway.

Where am I going?

Well, not far at all – only a slight desk move. I am super excited to step into the role of President, and lead what I believe to be an incredibly dynamic, energetic and cohesive team of officers. In a similar vain to the hard push for lecture capture, I want to keep pursuing efforts to improve your experience, and achieve benefits that will directly make life better at Royal Holloway and beyond.

In addition to my focuses on careers and a wellbeing strategy next year, I am keen to further improve the transparency of the Students’ Union, so you know how you can be heard, and what we are doing to ensure that you are.

What will I miss?

While there are lots of elements that I can’t wait to dig my teeth into next year, there are also lots of areas under the VP Education remit that I will miss. Firstly, it is the ear to the ground contact with academic reps. They are often the unsung heroes at university, achieving changes for students that people rarely even hear about, and it has been wonderful to meet and discuss progress with them this year.

I am sure that reacting to the Higher Education sector will be on the radar of the whole officer team, but the close interaction that the VP Education has with Higher Education policy is also something that I will miss diving into.

The reassuring feeling in leaving the role, is knowing that the incoming VP Education Kate Roberts, will enter the role like a duck to water, and it makes handing over that little bit easier.

Why stand in elections?

I couldn’t recommend it enough. It is a great way to experience all of the behind the scenes work that contributed to your experience at Royal Holloway. It is also the ideal chance to either enable students to have the same awesome experience that you had, but also work hard to rectify any issues that you remember experiencing for future generations.

As in any role, there are times of questioning, but the role of a Sabbatical Officer provides the perfect ground to test your leadership abilities and be exposed to a vast array of experiences that a recent graduate would rarely have the chance to do so.

Jack O'Neill // Vice President Education