We had a record number of nominations this year and want to thank each and every person who has been involved. During the inital nomination process, we asked students what they wanted to ask candidates to get a better idea of who they might vote for during this year’s Association Elections.
This article introduces all candidates running for Area Rep roles, so keep your eyes peeled for more information on Faculty Reps, Trustees, President and Deputy President candidates. You can check out the Vice President role questions here.
Below are the answers candidates have given. You can see the
candidates’ full manifestoes on the election website.
How would you propose to keep in regular contact with students during your term to stay up to date on their needs and issues in relation to your area?
I would like the role of the England Student Representative to be more relevant and helpful to students, so making myself easy to contact will make engagement with students easier. I will be available to them through the Student Forums, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and by email. I would host a weekly, one-hour online chat session where the students can meet me, as well as each other, so they know where they can come to discuss any problems, ask any questions they may have, and hopefully to share good news as well.
I would continue to be on the platforms I already use on a regular basis, such as the Association forums and Facebook, increasing my presence on other platforms that I use less frequently, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and my Instagram study account. I will also encourage students to contact me via email if they wish to communicate privately.
I will continue to attend existing regular and bespoke Student Association online events and meet-ups; and will introduce new England focused online meet-up/drop-in sessions. When face-to-face meet-ups are reintroduced, I will support the hosts and attend or arrange them myself when possible.
I would plan regular forum chats, where students can post anything they wish to ask, or are struggling with, during a period of time. If some prefer or don’t tend to use forums, then they will be able to attend a online zoom meeting once a month, where regular contact can be made with students, during my term, where we can talk about and discuss their needs they may wish to gather, and any issues they may be going through, in relation to my specified area of work
With some of the other Area Representative roles having specific Nation offices to work with, how would you approach similar issues, but without that obvious direct contact?
*Question submitted specifically for England Area Reps
In order to positively approach issues as the one stated, I would hold forums and face-to-face video meetings, such as through Microsoft Teams, or Zoom, whatever people prefer, this would be a great form of contact.
This would avoid that direct contact, as it via technology, video platforms such as the above. This is the most beneficial way I can think of that will best approach issues such as this, and for people to still have that contact at the same time.
The Nations require separate Nation offices, for several reasons. Many issues need to be dealt with by them, which are nation specific (e.g. funding and education being supported through devolved governments, policy, and public affairs representation).
Whereas students in England’s education and funding is supported by UK Government, and student issues would normally go through centrally at Milton Keynes (or through the Nottingham and Manchester offices). Policy and affairs would mainly be dealt with by the President’s remit.
I will work with specific English OU centres when necessary and would attend face-to-face meetings when appropriate. Many student issues, concerns, worries, suggestions may be addressed and brought to me through forums, email, social media, and during Student’s Association meet-ups (both online and face-to-face when they return).
I hope to work with student volunteers within England to help support students, collect student voice, and bridge the gap of isolation, so students feel more connected to their peers, the University, and the Student Association.
Mohai Eddine Hadit
I propose to choose a representative from each area that constitutes a fair division of international students, depending on where they are pursuing their studies, which raises awareness of specific issues affecting students. And, with this poised team, I think we will respond to every students’ demands. But, we will need a fair amount of motivation, which is central to my campaign. I will volunteer to help with students’ academic progression in maths and statistics, ensure a newsletter is delivered to and written by international students and guarantee the content is available to everyone using a range of social media.
I would look into the practicalities of creating an on-line forum through the student home platform. This would be for students based in N. Ireland and Ireland to discuss issues and if need be to raise concerns. As the rep for the island of Ireland I would monitor and if need be, assist with any issues. I would also be abailable through social media.
The vast majority of students have access to social media, I would set up a dedicated Twitter account to facilitate queries from students. This would mean access is both quick and free for all students. The Twitter account would also allow me to communicate with students all over Ireland at the same time.
Not all students have access to Twitter but we are all distance learners and are required to have a computer and email account. I would ask all students to provide me with their email address which I would use for regular updates on all things OU Ireland.
Let’s be honest, all communications lead to my mobile phone via one app or another so it is important to have contact information available whether that be email or the use of social media accounts such as Linkedin. The latter not only helps to build a network of students but lays the foundation of a network for life after studies.
I would aim to have several methods of contact for students to let me know their needs and issues, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Discord and OU forum, and would feedback to students using the communication tools I have mentioned, plus I will let them know that I can be contacted via email.
I see communication as a two-way process. Post using the Hoot and give regular reports and updates through the other channels. I will also create opportunities and activities to collect in the student voice, listening to the concerns and ideas of Scottish students.
I’d continue to use the ‘OU Students in Scotland’ Facebook group and other social media platforms, but would encourage students to use the Association’s established communications channels as much as possible for important study and support issues ensuring clarity and accuracy—relying too much on social media alone creates problems. The Association’s email service offers a direct and essential personal service.
The Association’s forums are much improved and I’d encourage their use particularly in light of the enhanced student interface within the forthcoming ‘digital student experience’ programme—it will encourage and enable a more manageable and enjoyable student life.
I would make myself available to students with email, social media, telephone, zoom, skype and even old fashioned snail mail. Whatever your most comfortable doing I’m happy to accommodate. In addition to this I would hold a regular online surgery to hear any and all concerns that other students in Scotland might have and to get to know as many students as possible.
In order to stay in continuous touch with maximum number of students, I will employ all communication means including social media tools such as Facebook groups, Twitter and LinkedIn. I will also communicate through forums and will use OU Students association platforms including support groups, the Hoot and student community drop-in sessions. I also plan to organise face to face networking events in every quarter of the year where students can interact and share their experiences. I will also organise a question/answer online session every month for 30 minutes where any student can ask questions and seek resolutions for issues/challenges.
What would your initial priority be if you were to be elected?
If elected as the English Representative, my first objective will be to create an online space for social interactions amongst English students, which is not restricted to their courses. Implementation of an English-wide student online social area will help students meet and establish in-person meetings. As online learners, we know that taking on the role of student, as well as everything else we do, is not easy. Meeting people in similar situations is a fantastic way to exchange ideas, create study groups, and to spend some time away from our studies with new friends, breaking the sense of isolation.
My initial priority is to embrace all opportunities that will enable me to do this role well. I plan to use the hand-over and training offered to expand my knowledge base of the work of the Association, creating effective relationships with other newly elected members of the Student Leadership Team.
I will introduce myself to students in England, listening to their ideas and concerns, so I can focus on building a sense of belonging within the student community. I would then implement some new community-building initiatives to improve and transform existing community representation to better serve students in England.
My most biggest priority if I got elected, would be making sure the opinions and voices of all students are heard. I would do this in ways that are beneficial for all. I would set aside a lot of time to consider every students voice, in making sure they are feeling heard. Hopefully I will be able to do this in varied ways, that best suits the students. I want to be the advocate, the listening ear, and a shoulder for all students at The Open University. This is my definite priority, if I am lucky enough to be elected.
Mohai Eddine Hadit
What I prioritize above all is the motivation of international students. Thus, in the first weeks, I will make sure that the delivery of a newsletter is as engaging as other newsletters by sharing different cultures, creating monthly prizes and offering international students an opportunity to voice their concerns and challenges they face. But that is not enough for you to be interested in writing for the newsletter. Thus, I will be the first to post and be active in sharing my experiences, and I will ensure to create a community where we will listen, wait and talk straight.
My priority if elected would be to create a forum for students that I represented. This would also be a good platform to organise social events as well as a point of contact.
My main priorities highlighted in my manifesto are about improving accessibility to study through better funding models and increased flexibility and developing the module buddy system while adding to the visibility of Irish students on module forum.
My accessibility pledges are longer term goals but the improved module buddy system could be implemented in time for the next academic year. This would provide all students with an already established support network when they begin their next module. I would use social media to encourage Irish students to sign up to their module forum to add to this essential support system.
Students enjoy their studies and know their worth. Studying is tough, coming out of covid is tough and everyone including myself needs support from time to time as there isn’t enough time in the day. I want students to share their success with the wider group and feel like they are part of something.
I would like to represent Scottish OU Students effectively, so would embrace the training provided to understand the complexities of the role. I would build a working relationship with other student representatives for work that overlaps and create a network of contacts through the OU in Scotland to enable me to do this role successfully.
I would ask Scottish OU Students what they need from me as their Scottish Area Representative and find ways to meet those requirements. I would create bi-weekly Scotland online chats and attend/organize face-to-face meetups, so students know I am an approachable and accessible Student Representative.
I would continue to push for the establishment of an Association Scotland ‘Panel’ as soon as possible. This would provide the kind of localised support for both study and community which has been missing for many years. Having been a Scotland-based student for more than 11 years I’m aware of those differences in the ways in which the OU in Scotland has to function as distinct from the University’s procedures in other areas within the United Kingdom. I would also re-visit those areas of difficulty which many of Scotland’s students have experienced, and continue to experience, as a consequence of being resident in Scotland. Such things as the Part Time Funding Grant form a major part of this, but are not the only localised issues to be successfully resolved.
My first priority would be getting to know as many OU students in Scotland as possible. In well aware that my circumstances and challenges aren’t necessarily represenitve of everyone. That’s why I’d be looking to set up a Scottish society and hopefully in the future organise events, it’s my hope that this would be the first step in creating a community of students across Scotland who can support and look out for each other.
In order to reach out to maximum number of students, I will initiate communication links with OU students in Scotland, raise awareness through multiple tools and seek students’ involvement and interest. Once the initial communication links are set-up, my first priority will be to maximise engagement levels including key focus on diversity and inclusion for all students. One of my key focus areas in diversity and inclusion will be disability support.
You can see the
candidates’ full manifestoes on the election website.