My name is Samuel Dedman, and I am a Third Year History student born in Hampshire. I’ve spent the past three years helping out in everything from Academic Representation to the Creative Industries, drinking far too much tea and generally having a whale of a time. This past year I have been filling the position of Humanities Faculty Officer, working alongside a fantastic team to bring about change in everything from VLE policies to campus refurbishment.
Why should you #GetDEDucated?
I have been involved with student representation and leadership for going on five years now, and this feels like the perfect moment to take on the challenge of being VP Education. I enjoy the work that I do, and right now I feel confident that I can balance experience with the ever-changing needs of students. Students at Southampton need someone who will make sure that their voice is heard, in their corner to make student life simpler and easier - I feel that I am that person.
What are my policies?
Higher Education is currently within a turbulent and fast-changing period, in particular because of the new Higher Education and Research Bill currently being discussed in Westminster. This promises to fundamentally change the way that the University operates and the metrics which are used to gauge its performance. The University needs to listen to students, and so what I propose are policies which offer to improve student experience across the University.
- Modernisation and Digitisation: I would look to encourage the University to roll out comprehensive digital systems across the entire institution, with particular emphasis – where feasible - on digital submission and electronic return of marks. I’d also pursue the topic of recorded lectures, seeking a roadmap regarding current progress.
- Transparency in marking: I’d like to see assessment and marking made clearer, pushing for factsheets and guides detailing how marking is conducted across all Departments and Faculties and where resources relevant to this can be found.
- Smarter Buildings: I’d like to see the Open Data produced by the University better implemented in educational activities – how about information on the Hartley TVs detailing where free computers are?
- Printing: I’d explore how the Union could help to lower printing costs for students through schemes like Aiwip, while remaining in-line with our policies on sustainability and digitisation.
- Skills Development: I’d work alongside the Hartley Library to promote their skills workshops, providing feedback and input as to how they can be best expanded in a useful manner.
- Disadvantage no one: I’d hold the University to account with regards to their current processes for Enabling students and those who apply for Special Considerations, encouraging them to make information clearer and easier for all to access.
- Hartley Library: I’d acknowledge that expanding Hartley isn’t possible within the short-term, and instead work with the University to find other spaces which could be made more usable, for example the Murray building and the South Gower building (once completed).
- Away from Highfield: Sites like the NOC, WSA, SGH and Avenue too often get overlooked, and as such I’d work to make sure that they never lose out in terms of resources and facilities compared to Hartley and Highfield.
- Getting the essentials right: I’d get quality-of-life features added to study spaces across the University, ranging from microwaves to kettles, reliable heating and access to power!
- Teaching locations: I’d make the University aware of student preferences with regards to teaching locations - for example Medics with a preference for taught time on Highfield. I’d lobby to implement these as far as is practical, looking potentially to allocate areas on campus rather than specific buildings or rooms.
- Room bookings: I’d look to open up more bookable spaces within Union-managed buildings, especially over exam periods. I’d also seek to work with the Estates & Facilities and Timetabling teams to review the use of Common Learning Spaces at the University.
- Higher Education and the TEF: I’d make students aware of the changes that the Higher Education and Research Bill could introduce, particularly as a result of the introduction of the second part of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). I would oppose increases to tuition fees, and would support broader actions if they were deemed necessary by the wider student body.
- Postgraduate problems: I’d work alongside the Union’s Postgraduate Committee on improving Postgraduate-specific issues including representation and the timing of their elections.
- University spaces: In line with my suggestions above about study spaces, I’d make sure that students are actively engaged in the University’s building projects, providing feedback and criticism when needed in order to make these projects more valuable and useful.
- Visas: I’d work alongside Union and University staff to improve and better publicise Visa support for students, supporting our international population as much as possible and reducing the stress of these processes.
- Expanding representation: I’d seek to expand representation to groups which we have failed to engage previously, such as Joint Honours and Minor students. I’d look to establish a ‘Joint Honours Officer’ role to aid in the representation of this group.
- ‘President Meets’: I would help to encourage positive working relationships between Academic Reps and Subject Societies, establishing Faculty-level ‘President Meets’ where these groups can meet and discuss mutually-relevant issues.
- Clarity in funding: I would help to produce clearer guidelines for funding applications, giving groups the best chance possible of successfully requesting funds from the Education Zone.
- Bigger, Better Forums: I’d implement open Forums to a much larger degree, making senior University staff accessible and accountable to all, either at a Faculty or Union level.
- Respecting remits: Perhaps most importantly I would respect the knowledge and experience of society and academic presidents, using their insight to better tailor support for their subject.