Looking back on your election manifesto, do you feel this year has been a success?
Overall I am happy with what I have achieved this year although many goals on my manifesto changed. The reality of the role, the insight gained during the role, and the feedback you receive from students change your goals. I found that I pursued different objectives than I had originally thought I would. For example, I wanted to support students with disabilities, and in my manifesto, I wanted to push for increased funding for Disability Support Services at the Univesity. However, there was no reasonable accommodations policy and in terms of disability support, this is more crucial to ensure that students with disabilities received the support they needed. I therefore, pivoted my position to pursue this avenue.
A number of other issues came up during my term and I worked on those. One of the big things I pushed for was increased recreational and study spaces. There will be many additional study spaces opened in buildings around campus, in addition to the outdoor pods, and the Síbin. There are also plans to have microwaves installed in different locations around campus.
The biggest disappointment of the year was my not being able to get a program to develop more open educational resources off the ground. This was an area in my manifesto I really wanted to push but was unsuccessful in my efforts.
What is the biggest obstacle you faced this year?
The biggest obstacle this year was workload. There at different times when the workload of the education officer is very high. I also have a tendency to try and take on too much. In semester one this workload was particularly high. This meant I did not achieve some of my objectives as I had to drop them in order to focus on core responsibilities such as casework and class rep elections.
What is the biggest issue facing students under the education remit?
Recreational and group study spaces are a big issue brought up by students. Students want places they can relax and reheat food. They also want spaces where they can study or do assignments as a group.
Blended learning is something students really want to see return to the university. During covid, students loved the flexibility offered by a flood of additional teaching resources. It was also highly beneficial to many students with disabilities as they could replay lectures and even adjust replay spends.
Although predominately a welfare concern, housing and the cost of living crisis was a massive issue as it interfered with students’ ability to do well in education. Many students have had to take on more hours of work or commute large distances. It is affecting grades and pushing students to withdraw from the university.
What is your proudest achievement this year?
My proudest achievement this year was actually something I never thought I would be involved in. I developed a series of social events in conjunction with the internal office for incoming international students. There were eight events in semester one that all sold out and a further six events in semester two that had great attendance. The events were such a good opportunity for incoming students to meet one another. There are now plans to run these events every year.
What are your plans for the next academic year?
Next year I will return to the 4th year of my mechanical engineering degree. I really enjoyed my year as Education Officer but am looking forward to pursuing my future as an engineer.