It feels like only yesterday that I was walking into CUSU for the first time as a fresher. Now I’m three years down the line and have just finished my first month as CUSU Education Officer! It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, starting the job only three days after graduation, but we’re fully into the swing of things now and we’re looking forward to meeting you all come October.
As Education Officer, I’m responsible for campaigning and representing students on education related issues. I sit on various committees and work with stakeholders across the university in creating and informing education policy. I also train and support Academic Reps, running Academic Forum, a space for those reps to discuss and share ideas and best practice, as well as facilitating other student activism around education. Finally, I organise the Student-Led Teaching Awards, a celebration of inclusive teaching and best practice for working with students – look out for nominations opening in November!
I ran for this role because education is the reason we’re here at Cambridge – we come here to study at an institution lauded for its academic rigour. I think it’s crucial that student voice feeds into the changes that the university and departments make in the way teaching and learning is carried out. This is in order for those academic standards to be met by students in a way that is both healthy and conducive to the pursuit of knowledge rather than merely the pursuit of good grades. I want to use the skills I’ve learned over the past three years to support students making change in their departments as well as working on policy myself. Student politics can be a great way of facilitating and driving positive change and I’m thrilled to be part of that process as CUSU’s Education Officer.
So what are my plans?
I plan to work on three main areas this year. The first is that I want to promote student advocacy, particularly in supporting Academic Reps, making Academic Forum a worthwhile and productive space, and creating support for College Academic Affairs and Education Officers. The second is that I want to improve academic support for students. I’m going to be looking at tackling the process of transitioning from school to university, including researching the provision of study skills across colleges and departments with the goal of working towards provision becoming universal and equal. I also want to work on supervisor training and equality of access to teaching for postgraduate students. The third is that I want to promote a vision of education that is accessible for everyone. This means campaigning on issues such as gender-neutral bathrooms in faculties and adjustments for disabled students, and remembering that welfare, liberation, and rights should be at the heart of education.