I’m Safa, I’m a third year at Exeter doing history, and I think the position of VP Access and Academic Affairs would be the perfect way for me to continue working for students like me.
My involvement in access work has been non-stop, having myself felt like an unlikely admission as a state comprehensive-educated Northerner and Crankstart Scholar. From taking part in Target School shadowing days to my current position as Co-Chair of the SU Class Act campaign, giving others the opportunity I have had has been a long-standing commitment of mine. I have proven this again and again, working closely with the SU throughout my access career. From taking part in Target Schools shadowing days in my first year in Oxford, to being Co-Chair of Class Act as a finalist, I have been inspired by the previous two AccAff VPs and hope to continue the push for academic equality.
Access is more than admission statistics and attainment gaps - and I’m a candidate who understands this first hand; imposter syndrome is still something I struggle with, even in my final year. Access work around academia has to acknowledge that students don’t just want a foot in the door or a leg up. To thrive at university, students need a place where they wholly belong. Access is not simply inclusion, but readjusting the playing field entirely. My time at Oxford has been filled by projects that have helped students carve out a space for themselves. In my second year, I co-founded the Oxford Feminist Society, becoming its CRED Rep, alongside editing the Common Ground Journal (an accessible space for aspiring student journalists) and founding the Theory4Thotz reading group which aims to make feminist theory and academia more approachable.
Review course content of all subjects, and work with student groups and campaigns to ensure the material is accessible, accurate, and representative of the diversity of students and society alike.
- Emphasis on student welfare
Push for general policies which would improve student wellbeing alongside reviews of college welfare structures to ensure every student’s specific needs are catered for. A key area is the structure of Oxford term times. For example, extending the term into 9th week, ‘Free Our Wednesdays’, and the implementation of a reading week, to make the Oxford workload more spread out for students.
Push for a review into exam structures to pinpoint areas to change to make exams more manageable, including a review into prelims.
Push for more diversity and options for students to choose how to be examined, as well as more digital methods of examination.
- Ensuring Accessible teaching
Fight for teaching solutions and innovations that make student’s life easier, such as a more negotiation based approach to teaching and workloads, taking into account student’s needs, and the utilisation of technology to decrease students’ burden, such as fighting for lecture capture across all faculties.
- Solidarity between different campaigns
Work closely with student groups and help them achieve their goals, being in a better position to influence the university, as well as holding working groups and conferences to encourage more inter-campaign solidarity.
- Encouraging student-staff solidarity
Issues around workload, term structure and the increasing commodification of education affect both staff and students similarly and more working groups and conferences on these issues with both parties represented can help us mobilise together to fight the issues that impact us all.
- Equalising the college system
Push for reviews of different colleges’ bursaries and hardship funds, academic rights, policy around suspended students, and the accessibility of college facilities to make sure every college is carrying out its responsibilities and no one is falling through the cracks
Joining the National Conversation
- Show students what the SU actually is!
Promote Student Council as a viable and accessible space for students to address and resolve their concerns and shape university policy for themselves.
Use social media to show students and applicants how vital a system the SU could be for them
- Fighting the commodification of education
Fight for more transparency around where exactly our tuition fees are going, as well as reviews into the university’s fees and general finances, and especially into how this has been impacted under Covid-19.
Represent students' views
- Rights education for students
Use the SU as a tool to educate students about their rights.
For example, greater student awareness on university workload guidelines would ensure that student-tutor relations remain personable, but fair.