Sharanya's Year as Your VP Education

After a whirlwind of a year, Sharanya reflects on her achievements as your VP Education and looks forward to another year in office as your President!

education blogofficer blog

Hello everyone,  

I cannot believe we are at the end of the academic year - this has been an absolute whirlwind of a year! I am thrilled to have been elected to represent you this year as your VP Education and I’m even more thrilled that an overwhelming number of you have put your faith in me for another year at RHSU - but this time as your President!

Here is a very quick run-through of what I’ve achieved this year with the support of RHSU, and by collaborating with the University. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to thank you so much for all your support. I truly couldn’t have done it without you telling me how much of an impact this work was having on your lives. You motivate me every day to do and be better and I owe you everything for what we have achieved this year! Now onto the deets!

Inclusivity and Accessibility

Access and Participation Plan

As part of my manifesto aim to improve accessibility in higher education for underrepresented groups, I havejoined the University’s Access and Participation working group -the APP will run from 2025-2028. As someone who first came to Royal Holloway on a summer school in Year 10 as part of the widening access programme, this was a very full circle moment for me (wholesome as well!) 

The Student Voice team and I have worked extremely closely with the University on the APP, helping form student-led focus groups and providing valuable insight and criticism where needed. The APP will ensure that every student no matter what their socio-economic background will be able to thrive and succeed at Royal Holloway.

LGBT+ History Month

The theme this year for LGBT+ History Month was Medicine #UndertheScope, focusing on the experiences of queer people with healthcare and the inequalities they face whilst accessing it. I worked closely with the LGBT+ Society and LGBT+ Community Officer to run this history month, with a range of events and fun activities to help our queer community meet and bond, helping spread awareness of the theme across campus.

The events were an opportunity to raise money for the LGBT+ Society’s Transition fund, a mutual-aid transition fund which raised over £500 to donate to students. As well as our annual Queer Creativity Showcase, we held our first-ever speed dating event – we well and truly spread the love on campus this year.

Library Access

The library has unfortunately reduced its opening hours this year due to funding pressures. After several discussions with the University management and the library teams, I successfully lobbied to open up the recharge zone and PC Lab 1 as alternative 24/7 study provision for students. We are also working very closely to see how we can make spaces on campus more accessible for you (keep an eye on this next year!)

Careers and Employability

Summer Skills Placement Programme 

Nisha and I worked alongside the Careers service to launch their Summer Skills Placement Programme. This is a programme with Pathway of Careers activities, helping students secure a short placement in a sector of their interest, with a grant of £400 or £650 depending on the duration.  

This also tied into my manifesto aim of inclusivity and accessibility as this pathway is aimed at students from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups to ensure they have the best possible chance at exceeding in their careers.

Grad Week

I also held a Grad Week: Next Steps campaign which aimed at helping students feel a bit more confident about their next steps. We had a week full of career skill-developing events such as our Alumni Panel, our Student Futures Fair, and our International Student Futures Q&A session.

Training and Support for Students

The Careers service and I were looking at better supporting student groups who wish to put on careers events – providing them with guided resources, training and 1-1 support with careers advisors.

I’m also currently sitting on a student placements project board – a three-month project dedicated to improving the consistency of experiences of students who are on / looking for placements.

Local and National Picture  

Student Housing Crisis

I recently attended an All-Party Parliamentary Group on the student housing crisis. While we discussed topics that we were already familiar with e.g. dodgy landlords, unaffordable accommodation, lack of accommodation, and low-quality housing – it was an eye-opening experience to see how students were impacted differently due to intersectional experiences across the country.

Hopefully, the discussions we had in parliament should help feed into government policy to ensure there’s a sustainable solution for the student housing crisis.

Meeting our Local MP

We also met with our (then) Local MP, Dr Ben Spencer with some concerns that we had regarding the student experience at Royal Holloway.

This included the housing crisis, funding and fees and cost of living, lack of support for the LGBT+ community (particularly for transgender students) and support for student wellbeing and international students. There were some very interesting conversations and some movement on issues – particularly around one of my manifesto points for next year (safety around Egham and Englefield at night) 

General Election

General Election incoming! So far, I have been working to increase student voter registration, mobilising student voices, and reaching out to candidates to discuss student issues.

Whatever government we get, I'll be sure to lobby and represent you nationally and locally next year too!