Avila Chidume

Vice President Education and Democracy

Key Points

  • The university must take accountability for its actions.
  • Student's mental health must be a priority alongside education.
  • Personal academic tutors require adequate training to support students.
  • Students must be encouraged to pursue interests.
  • Provide students with the choice on information they receive.

Since 2016, I’ve been a proactive member of both the Students’ Union and university. Over the last four years, I’ve built strong relationships with each organisation. For example, my work with Careers and Employability has led to me securing opportunities in several areas I’m passionate about. Additionally, I’m currently representing the University at the Santander Emerging Entrepreneurs competition, which has enabled me to build a strong network of people from all over the UK. If elected, I would utilise my connections and experience to change how students receive opportunities, ensuring their success in their studies and beyond.

Through platforms like Senate and You Make Change, it’s amazing that we are free to voice our opinions on how the university operates. Now more than ever, we need to lobby the University to do more for students within the current pandemic. I am here to help make that happen. COVID-19 has severely impacted the student body, and the University’s responses have severely impacted everyone. Accountability must be had for their poor communication and delays in announcing changes to our learning.

I’m also a strong advocate for individuality. We need to tailor more opportunities for people to help them thrive in the best possible environment. I want to ensure that when students return, they’re mentally prepared for the stress university can cause, and that their PATs have received the correct training to support them. We need to abolish the stigma surrounding asking for help: whether that be from your peers, tutors or requesting extensions. Despite Enabling Services existing, many students are unaware of their services. For most students, their first port of call is their PAT. If their tutor is insensitive or unsupportive, it can create a toxic environment for the student and may result in poor performance or dropping out. I know of many accounts of students being told to drop out or change course by their PATs after disclosing personal issues, which should be against university conduct if they offer no initial help. Working closely with the Advice Centre and other Sabbs, I want to implement mandatory lectures at the beginning of each semester reminding students of all of the services available to them.

Another area for reform is the University’s commitment to helping students secure work experience in non-traditional sectors. COVID-19 has demonstrated that traditional opportunities are no longer viable, and competition is now tougher than ever. Final year students require a lot more support than what is currently provided. It’s important that whilst students are preparing for their final exams, they are provided with information on important deadlines, and given time to apply without having to sacrifice a job opportunity for an exam, or vice versa. During third year, my emails were always flooded with opportunities only available to first years. Students should be allowed to state what additional information they receive via emails. 

Next year will be tough, but I want to help.

 

So, if you want accountability and action, vote me #1 for VP Education & Democracy.