Simeon Orduen - My Two Years As President

Posted 18 June 2021
Two Years as Your President of Education
It has been two years! Not just that, but it has been two amazing years as well. This year in particular has been quite a challenging one. Yes, there was a pandemic and all the challenges that came along with that; yes, things did not go as planned. Still, it has been a true privilege to see strength that students have shown to navigate this challenging time and support them as much as I could through it.

I have been part of two great President Teams during my time here, both unique and passionate about student representation in their respective roles and as a collective. I have to say I feel like I have reached an end point as President, and it really is time to hand over to someone else to carry on. I am confident that your new President of Education, Peace Igi-Ehon, is going to do a wonderful job representing your academic interests.

That said, I will miss the Students’ Union and I will miss being a sounding board for students and making sure your voices and thoughts are heard with every given opportunity. I want to thank you all for you support, whether you supported me by voting for me, becoming an academic representative/course rep, giving feedback, or sending a message to check in on how I was faring. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! I will miss you!!

To see more on my work during my first term in office, please click here. Without further ado and in no particular order, I have highlighted some of the great stuff I have been able to achieve with your support during my time here:

  • International Students’ ‘Tuition fees for study abroad/placement for a full year: This is a huge win for International students, as they will now be paying less than 50% of what they had to pay previously (which is reduction from having to pay 50% of their annual fees for a full year of study abroad/placement for a full year to paying between 15-20%).

 

  • No Detriment Policy & Safety net policy: In conversation with the PVC Education, these policies were put in place to ensure that students were supported throughout what has been a stressful academic year. The option to self-certify was also included as one of the options that students were allowed to use as part of applying for mitigating circumstances/extensions as part of this. Hopefully, these were useful in ensure that students were supported academically during what has been a trying time for everyone.

 

  • Ensuring that decolonising the curriculum was embedded within the thinking of the University: I have done several things to try and do this. These include:
  1.  Ensuring that Programme design teams took this into account as part of designing their curriculums as part of my work at the Education Planning Committee
  2. Worked with the Teaching Excellence Academy in various ways to ensure this was embedded; supported where possible with staff guidance, the Blended Learning Primer, speaking at relevant conferences and hosting debates to discuss these topics more broadly
  3. Did a presentation around Inclusive Education during the winter symposium. I have given permission for my content to be used to inform any frameworks that impact positively on Inclusive Education within the University.
  • The student experience of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic group: Besides my work around decolonising the curriculum, I have also done a number of other things to help inform the thinking around dealing with some of these issues. I have:
  1. Ensured that tokenistic approaches are not taken on the path to being truly inclusive & diverse. Short cuts are not the answer.
  2. Issues impacting our Muslim student community on their student experience, particularly on the lack of sufficient access to the library during the Ramadan period, as well as having to deal with assessments during Eid.
  3. Worked on to ensure a push for more inclusive practices not just in teaching & assessments, but also within the curriculum structure.
  4. Challenged the status quo, and emphasised why more equitable approaches need to be considered across the University, as this would benefit not only students from minority groups, but also accessibility issues and beyond.

Work that needs to be continued:

  • BAME Awarding Gap (Particularly the Black Students’ Awarding Gap): Since the very start of my role, I have done what I could to inform the University’s initiatives to help address this. However, the BAME awarding gap has only increased at our University, with the Black Awarding Gap in particular doubling within the space of a year, despite Black students engaging more with the blended learning metrics better than their peers.

It has been quite difficult for me on a personal and professional level, but I am hoping that going forward, the issues that have allowed for this to not only remain a problem for so long, but increase, will be addressed.

  • Personal Supervision: Whilst personal has improved, there is still more work required here. Students have had an inconsistent experience here since the move from Academic Support Tutors to Personal Supervision. A review is necessary to ensure that the system works for students.
  • Lecture recordings/capture: Has been discussed for as long as I can remember. I urge every academic within the University to take into consideration the difficulties students who are either hard of hearing, carers or have other things going on in their lives that may cause them to miss lectures or not pay attention 100% at every lecture, and how huge a resource this would be for them, and perhaps cast away some of the arguments and resistance towards this. In a year where everyone seems to be appreciative of frontline workers, students who in fact, fall within this category, but have sometimes have to miss lectures to do so, have suffered by a lack of access to lecture recordings. It is high time we find innovative ways forward and did something about this.
  • The student experience of nursing students: There have been a number of issues come up since I have been in this role. Whilst there are plans in the works to make this much better going forward, I urge that staff do not relent in working for the betterment of students, and that students keep ensuring that their voices are heard because they matter, and their voices are going to be important if we are going to finally see things change.

I could go on and on, but every good blog needs to come to an end!

Again thanks everyone for your support. I have loved my time here with you all and will miss you all. Thanks to everyone who has sent me a lovely message or asked ‘what’s next for you?’ To that I say, we will all find out soon enough, won’t we?

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