Thinking of running for one of the four full-time Sabbatical Officer roles in this year's SU Elections?
To give you a flavour of what being a Sabb entails, we've enlisted the help of our five current Officers who took time to answer questions including what their roles entail, what they've achieved so far, what they've gained from the role, and what their experience of running in an election was like.
Next up is VP Education Kate Roberts, who will be sharing her experience in the role as she looks back to some of the most important moments.
My role at the Students’ Union is to represent the academic interests of students, working on campaigns aimed at improving the academic experience on campus and looking after the academic rep system, empowering students to make change on their courses and within their departments.
In my role as VP Education I am the Deputy President of the Students’ Union, stepping in when the President is busy! I also spend a fair amount of time sitting on a number of high level committees relating to education, such as Academic Board (where the academic strategy of the College is decided), Quality Assurance and Standards Committee, and Education Strategy Committee.
Being able to represent students in these committees is a really exciting opportunity and I have found it great that the University is interested in hearing student opinion. Every Officer is also a Trustee of the Students’ Union and therefore sits on Trustee Board, this is a really exciting opportunity to get involved in the governance of the Students’ Union as a charity through influencing long term strategy decisions.
Within the Students’ Union we also regularly have meetings to discuss projects we are working on, such as lecture capture or online submissions as well as our campaign work, such as my campaign on Inclusive Education that I recently ran! You are able to make key decisions on priorities of work for the year alongside existing activities, such as shaping the academic rep system and academic rep conference.
I also look after Education Executive, a committee of students elected to represent educational work, and work closely with the Collectives, specifically being the lead Officer for the Commuting Students, PGT Students and PGR Students Collectives. The education role presents a real opportunity to take the lead on different areas of work while being supported to make changes that have a significant positive impact on students.
Throughout the year I have done some really exciting things including working on and launching the final BAME Inclusive Student Experience Student Voice report, with 25 recommendations for both the Students’ Union and the University to implement and improve the experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students at Royal Holloway.
I have a significant role in academic representation, from encouraging students to stand in elections to training and supporting School Reps more closely. I have also been able to shape the Academic Rep Conference, embracing my theme of Inclusive Education and choosing the workshops and guest speakers. I have been working closely with senior members of the University on improving some of the issues I aimed to tackle when I ran for the role last year, including lecture capture, online resources, Moodle and the BAME attainment gap.
I have also focused my internal work on developing a plan for improving support for academic societies as well as undertaking a review of the academic rep recognition scheme. Having students come up to me and say that the Student Rights articles I have written across the year have impacted their experience and improved an aspect of their education has been a real highlight!
The work you do in this role has a real and tangible impact to students, meaning their experience at University is better as a result of your hard work!
I have gained so much from the experience, from being able to work as part of such a fantastic team and making improvements to student life that will impact a huge number of students going forward, to understanding my own skills, strengths and weaknesses to develop personally as a leader.
It has been full of its challenges as well as its highlights, but being able to explore what sort of leader you want to be in this supportive and constructive environment has been a real privilege and made me so glad I took the opportunity and ran last year!
I would say my biggest challenge has been trying to cram in everything I wanted to influence this year! Being ambitious is fantastic, but you need to think about projects that will be realistic to achieve in the year and which are real key priorities for education at present.
Conversely, the thing I most love about being an Officer is chatting to students, seeing you guys develop across the year and take the opportunities available to you is really rewarding. This role has so much scope for making a big impact on people’s lives and you can really embrace your own priorities and ideas.
Running in the election was mildly terrifying, but also an opportunity I am so glad I took! I was over the moon to win as I never expected the amount of support from students that I got through the whole process.
If you are a little nervous, believe me we were all there, just remember that students are excited to hear your ideas and you have so much to say about your own student experience that will set you up for the role perfectly. No matter what your experience was, you are an expert in being a student, which in the University’s eyes is invaluable!
Don’t hesitate to come and chat to me about the election process, but be ready to embrace and treasure the excitement and madness of it because it will all be over before you know it!
I am really excited to see how the role develops next year (as it enters our fourth year of having a VP Education!) and I am looking forward to what will be achieved to improve the academic experience of students even more!
If you have any questions or just want to chat to me about the VP Education role, please drop me a message on Facebook or an email at email@example.com.
Like the sound of what you've read? Nominations in the SU Elections are now open – get more info here and nominate yourself below, or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations close at 4pm on Friday 7 February.
Read the Job Description
Stand for election
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX