You’ll be delighted to know that your beloved VP Ac. Rep is back from NUS HE and FE Zones Conference 2015!
The theme of the HE conference this year was the marketisation of higher education. Which sounds like it’s complicated, but basically is about how education is now seen as a commodity to be bought and sold, and that students are seen as consumers and customers in the education sector, rather than as partners in their education. And that’s not okay. As stated in the NUS Partnership Manifesto:
‘A consumer model offers students a false and inflated perception of their power.’
It’s dangerous. I’ve heard students say time and time again ‘I’m paying 9K per year, therefore I should get XYZ.’ But the problem is it doesn’t work that way, because education and university experience can’t fit into the product box that it’s being squashed into. And it doesn’t fit because it’s not a product.
With it being the key conference theme, we did a lot of stuff on marketisation and how it’s a hot topic at the moment, with the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework being yet another playing field for universities to compete on. And competition is dis-empowering to institutions, because it’s stops the coming together as a collective voice because they’re competing against each other rather than working together.
As well as all of that super-interesting stuff, there was elections happening! And I was running. Because I hear the word ‘election’ and I don’t seem to be able to help myself.
So I was running for Higher Education Zone Committee and the 2nd place on the National Executive Council. Now I’ve quite openly talked about the fact I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and in recent months my mental health situation had vastly improved, and I’ve been coping really well. To the point that when I ran for Vice President back in March I coped really, really well with the stress, I actually surprised myself. And I was really proud of myself. However, I really struggled with these elections. I barely ate the entire time I was there because I was certain I was going to throw up, and I didn’t want the front row to become a splash zone. I spent half an hour after my roommate left our the hotel room the morning of elections crying, not for any specific reason I can pin down, just nerves and stress. I held myself together publicly, but I didn’t feel very together. At all.
I didn’t get elected, but, for an intercalating sabb from a small, unknown union that’s never had any part in NUS’s democratic structures before, I’d say I did alright. I’m still proud of myself. And the people that did get elected are truly great officers, and I have total faith in our committee this year. Congratulations to all of them!
When I left yesterday I had decided I was never running in an NUS election again. There are a lot of great people in the movement, and maybe I’m just too mediocre to get elected. I’ve since had people tell me I should run for Block of 15 at National Conference 2016. And you know what, I just might, if I can prepare myself enough for it mentally. (See what I mean about me just having to run in elections?)
I truly enjoyed the sessions at zones, I enjoyed the networking, the discussion and debate. I did not enjoy running in the election, but that’s not down to anyone else, that’s just down to me being a nervous wreck.
But now I’m back at Edge Hill Students’ Union, and I’m getting down to work on feedback, catch up training sessions for course reps, and preparation for EHSU’s first ever executive council on Monday the 2nd of November, where I’ll be presenting my first officer report AND being on the first sabb team at EHSU to be formally held to account ever! Speaking of, if you’d like to ask a question to any of your full time officers, you can contact any of your part time officers, who can take those questions to the exec and ask them on your behalf. We’ll also be passing policy for the first time ever, (!!!) and I’m submitting a free education policy, and a policy stating the unions position on the TEF.
Well, that’s my update for the moment. So for now, over and out!