Candidate for the position of NUS Delegates

Maryam Shah

Manifesto: Maryam Shah

Hi, I am Maryam Shah, a third-year law student at Magdalen College. I am running for NUS delegate because I want to represent you at the NUS conference, by upholding the voice of our university on a national level. If you believe we should be campaigning for: more funding for mental health awareness; less tuition fees and freedom from discrimination then vote Maryam Shah #1 for NUS delegate!

Support and increase funding for Mental health provisions and campaigns; To campaign for better mental health services in the face of cuts and austerity. I want to make sure that NUS is prioritising to tackle mental health and also want to voice the issue around BME and mental health.

  • Having assessed the Oxford rustication statistics, the consistently predominant reason stated was “health”. With an astonishing number of 592 students rusticating for ‘health reasons’ in 2013-14.
  • The university counselling service is currently viewed as too complicated and distant- making it inaccessible to a lot of students.
  • I therefore want to campaign for increased funding for mental health services so that there can be a university guarantee that there is a college counsellor available in each of Oxford’s 39 colleges. It is not fair that different colleges have different levels of welfare support available- there should be a guarantee that all students can access a college counsellor.
  • There should also be equal access to ‘Mindfulness Courses’. Some colleges currently provide these for free while others expect students to pay for the course. This can be a huge barrier.
  • Mindfulness has been linked to reduction of stress and anxiety and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as a way to prevent depression in people who have had bouts of depression in the past
  • I will campaign for greater funding for Mental health services and also voice the stigma around BME mental health- this is because BME students are statistically more likely to drop out of university.
  • As a BME student access ambassador I was invited to 10 Downing Street to give insight on why BME students are more vulnerable to mental health problems and dropping out of universities.
  • From my experience, I believe this is a key hidden issue and that we urgently need to focus more awareness on it so that we can find the root cause of the problem.

Fighting discrimination: tackling Islamophobia, anti Semitism, homophobia, sexism on university campuses.

  • Universities are an important time of development in every students’ life and it is therefore crucial that we create ‘safe spaces’ free from discrimination for all people
  • As Women’s Officer in the Oxford Union I have organised public-speaking workshops to help female students to ‘find their voice’ and be able to ‘speak out’.
  • I would like to campaign for more ‘speech empowerment’ workshops to be run in colleges for all people from vulnerable groups to practice the skills necessary in speaking out against discrimination as well as reporting it. I want such workshops to not just be available to freshers, but rather be run every year and be accessible to all students.

Free Education: It is crucial that the NUS continues to fight for the scrapping of fees and reinstatement of maintenance grants.

  • While countries such as Germany and Scotland have managed to circumnavigate requiring tuition fees altogether, England and Wales scrapped maintenance grants in favour of encouraging poor students to apply for loans instead
  • Labour’s promise of abolishing tuition fees at least evidences that there are plausible ways for the government to reform the budget so as to reduce the debt being imposed on students
  • Education should be free for all and the current tuition fee system is geared towards creating a class divide. The insecurity of graduating with a debt may lead to students accepting the first job available; may be a barrier to poorer students going to university in the first place and may also be a barrier to people of faith (such as Muslims) accessing higher education due to interest loans being forbidden in their belief system.