2021 NUSU Elections debates: Education Officer

Maud Webster summarises the debate between Education Officer candidates, Lander, Sam and Livia

Maud Webster
23rd February 2021
Caption: NUTV on YouTube

Sabbatical officer debates opened this year (virtually, for the first time) with the Education Officer debate; standing for this position are Lander Velázquez, Sam Groves, and Livia Scott.

Launching into opening statements, Lander emphasised his current positions within student voice and highlights how his campaign focuses on how "academia and wellbeing are tied together". Sam follows this, promising to work towards fostering a better sense of "course community”, and to produce guides for students on how to prepare for lectures and assignments. He also calls for reforming the current methods for contacting support channels. Livia, like Lander, also promises to prioritise welfare and making sure facilities like studios remain available and accessible.

Credit: NUTV via YouTube

Moderator Rachel Hatherley asks Sam, Lander and Livia for their stance on tuition fees - a contentious topic, as universities continue to demand home undergraduates pay £9250, and international students up to £34,800. Livia recognises the student body is “frustrated” at the quality of teaching and that a reduction in debt should be prioritised as it's “on everyone’s mind at the moment”. Whilst Sam also promises to support a reduction in fees / debt reduction, he wants to prioritise demanding quality teaching.

When asked how the candidates hope to use their position to hold the university to account on issues relating to education, Livia notes how it's essential to listen to and respond to the student body and ensure there's a level of “humanisation” so that students feel listened to. Lander adds to Livia's comments, agree that humanising the SU is important so that two-way communication between the university and students can work, and transparency is key. However, Sam argues that allowing for flexibility is more important than accountability - and that part of this is ensuring good communication to allow "[transparency] not so that we can hold [the university] accountable, more so that we can allow for the flexibility that [Sam thinks] is needed in times like these". He follows this by arguing that when decisions are made, they should be communicated to the students efficiently so that students' reactions to the plans the university is proposing can be gaged.

Sian Dickie, current Education Officer, asks the candidates what they consider "quality teaching". Livia comments that quality teaching makes students feel like they can speak to the lecturers, feel like they're part of the university, and have good and equal access to all resources and facilities. Lander agrees with this and adds that quality teaching can be achieved if lecturers are aware of what they need to improve on. Sam argues two components - good engagement with learning material and teaching staff, and having students feel well prepared for assignments.

You can watch the debate yourself through the recorded livestream below, and Find Lander Velázquez, Sam Groves, and Livia Scott's manifestos on the NUSU website.

Voting opens on the 1st March and 50p per voter will also be donated and split between three charities.

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
(She / Her) Second-year Architecture & Planning student at Newcastle University, and arts sub-editor for the 20/21 academic year.

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