I’m Penny, a Psychology graduate who has spent the last 4 years representing students as course rep, college officer, NUS Women’s Conference delegate, and most recently VP Education. I’m proud to have influenced the university to achieve big wins, such as the reduced penalty for late submissions, and academic societies becoming departments’ top priority. I’m proud to have worked with representatives from Equality Panels to make the university aware of and act on education issues experienced by marginalised students at Exeter, from the inadequate implementation of Individual Learning Plans, to the fear and anxiety experienced by International students because of attendance monitoring policies.
Hopefully, from working with me and knowing my achievements, you will have seen that I’m committed to advocating for the interests of students, especially those who are marginalised. A year of doing the job means that I’ve gained much more experience and confidence in asserting myself in holding the university accountable. In my second year as VP Education, you can expect even more big wins, including the following:
1. Political engagement
I will lobby the university to create portfolios of modules from all disciplines that address important political issues, such as climate change and inequality, so that students are made aware of and encouraged to take these modules. I will work with societies to hold educational events where students can learn and engage in conversations about politics.
I will work with local trade unions such as UCU to address the issue of workers’ rights in higher education.
I will work with the NUS, local and national politicians, to address political issues that affect students, such as the future of the Erasmus scheme, and funding for students.
2. Student voice
Hearing from students on the ground is very important to my job. Next year, I want to improve students’ engagement and attendance in Academic Executive, the open education meeting that I chair. I will organise regular drop-in stations around campus to engage you in dialogues about your education experience and let you submit agenda items for Academic Executive directly.
3. Tackling systemic injustice
This year, I have co-organised a panel event about the need to decolonise the curriculum, and another event is being planned. Next year, my focus in decolonising education will be to reduce the gap between the proportion of BAME students achieving a 1st and 2:1 compared to that of white students, which was 13% in 2018/19.
I will lobby for the university to publicly release an annual report of BAME Awarding Gap data. I will pressure the university to publicly pledge to reduce the gap to 0% by 2025 and to be held accountable for this target.
As a trustee, I will make sure the Students’ Guild addresses its institutional racism as a priority. I will commission an audit to identify where our policy (or lack thereof) proportionately put BAME staff and students at greater risks. I will reform our grievance policy to ensure BAME students and staff are safeguarded and empowered to advocate for themselves.