A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – EMILY CHAPMAN

The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to play an active role within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they are undeniably important. After a momentous year for the National Union of Students, studying it is more important than ever for understanding the political consciousness of the student movement. As we move into election season for the new NUS President, Vice Presidents and National Executive Council, we contacted all candidates in those elections and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their vision for NUS.

Submissions are unedited, and are being published in the order we receive them. This candidate is standing for Vice President (Further Education).

My history with student politics:

Early Years: I was alwaysinvolved with my school’s Student Council as an admin during secondary school.

2008/9 – Started at Stirling Students’ Union whilst doing my degree and was a sports rep on the council. In March of that academic year was elected as the Publicity Officer. I also attended NUS Scotland Conference and National Conference.

2009/10 – I had to drop out a week before Christmas break because I could not pay my rent, my loan had not come through and I had no money. Essentially I was evicted from my flat with nowhere to go. It broke me, it took me a while to accept the flawed life choices I made.

2014/15 – Enrolled at Leeds City College as my second chance studying for an FdA in Law and Criminal Studies. I helped the SU set up its Trustee Board and became a student trustee. I went onto be elected as the Vice President (Park Lane) in a by-election, then as the SU President. Leeds City College Students Union won NUS FE Students’ Union of the year 2015.

Below is my history of achievement in FE since I became the SU President at Leeds City College:

  • I lead a union in a college that was in the midst of yet another restructure after £11 million of cuts. Through an area review process I kept the college separate and student voice at the heart of the process.
  • I got written confirmation on support for the NUS “FEUnplugged Campaign” and SU autonomy.
  • I secured a £50,000 block grant to invest in the union and students.
  • I gained the resources to hire 3 amazing SU support staff for the union
  • I moved the SU Office from a hidden back corner to a central fully visible area, and rebranded it with SU Marketing.
  • I placed Student Voice at the heart of everything LCC does by having accountability of departments, changing the attitudes of those who saw it as a tick-box exercise rather than a vital necessity.
  • I secured the SU Sabbatical Officers a seat on every senior level committee and board from Equality and Diversity to Maths and English.
  • I implemented a 3 year strategic plan for continuity in the Union, which is exceeding its targets in year one.
  • I lead the union to double its election engagement in one year (a 126% increase in individual learners).
  • I successfully held a democratic reform of the Students Union and was involved in the restructure of Student Governance, gaining even more student voice representation.

And I haven’t finished yet!

It’s time for the majority of NUS to stop being the minority.

My thoughts on the current state of NUS:

From an FE point of view, the current state is improving but still not great. We need FE not to be a footnote in policies. Too many times I have heard topics spoken as if they didn’t affect FE Students, when they really do! FE has a wide range of learners, covered by the Liberation, Apprentices, HE, Part Time and Mature Students branches of NUS. FE needs support in all areas of engagement so ALL their members are represented. It’s time for the majority of NUS to stop being the minority.

My vision for what NUS should be:

A Union the supports its affiliated members, supporting SUs with issues on the ground and nationally. For FE that are part of the collective voice instead of being the minority voice, with the support and resources to attend events and campaign on things at local level.

Credit: Emily Chapman

My policies and promises:

1 – Keeping the fight going for FE

If elected I will:

  • Lobby and consult with institutions and learners in fighting for consistency being central to the decisions made about the education of all learners,  from all backgrounds and modes of study.
  • Monitor and work closely across the area review waves to ensure students are a part of the implementation agenda. Communicating with members and consulting on decisions.

2 – Resources and investment in FE SUs

If elected I will:

  • Work with the VPUD and lobby the UK Government to fund FE Students’ Unions in England, by learning from the frameworks and development plans in the other UK nations.
  • Create a Students’ Union visit plan and target colleges that need the most development. I’ll show that NUS is there for its membership.
  • Work with 6th forms and specialist colleges personally and acknowledging and supporting more flexible frameworks and providing suitable accessible support.

3 – Learn from our partnership

If elected I will:

  • Develop the relationship between FE & HE by creating regular FE/HE network meetings in regions, to act collectively on local/devolved issues.
  • Maintain a dialogue with the VPHE to be a voice and take action on behalf of HE students that study in FE institutions.

4 – It’s not just the classrooms that need investment

The government has done the basic work with the post-16 Skills plan. Now is the opportunity to look at:

  • Curriculum reform – lobbying the UK Government with the trade unions to ensure that high quality teaching and learning is influenced by learner feedback.
  • Work with the VP Welfare and all Liberation campaigns to ensure that learners are able to access the support they need with things like mental health, finance, careers and life skills e.g. rights at 16.
  • Work with specialist colleges to get the needs of SEND Learners heard and lobby for ring fenced funding for their provision.
  • Fight for investment in FE and apprentices in line with the recommendations in the Skills plan.
  • Lobby the UK Government to ring fence ESOL funding.

5 – Apprentices

If elected I will:

  • Support the development and profile of the National Society of Apprentices (NSoA) across the UK, by working closely with their Leadership Team.
  • Lobby the UK Government on the National Society’s policies around the cost of living, sexism and discrimination, positive interactions between apprentices, training providers and employers and apprentice pay.

 

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