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Co-authored by Syed Adan Ahmed and Sam Turner
Noah Katz, the Assistant Manager of Bailrigg FM interviewed Bee Morgan, the LUSU Vice President for Education on her last day in office to reflect on her previous 18 months in office and also talk about the achievements that the VP has made for students this year.
Hi Bee, how are you doing?
I am doing well. This is really kind of bittersweet for me because I loved my time here and ever since I announced that I was leaving, everybody has been very kind to me and also affirming that I did a really good job as the VP for Education. I know I have got a life after uni but at the same time, I feel like I don’t want to leave and go.
Could you explain the ‘No Detriment Policy’ that you were able to get approved by the university?
The no detriment policy consists of a series of measures that are designed to ensure no student’s education is harmed by the Covid-19 pandemic. They include measures like offering free resits to students that need to resit an examination. This step was taken in response to a decrease in students’ income due to reduced part-time work opportunities as a result of the lockdowns. In addition to this, the university will continue its policy of allowing students to self-certify without the need for external evidence i.e. a doctor’s note in light of the extraordinary circumstances that have currently led to reduced access and longer waiting times for students to see a GP. Furthermore, unlike previous years, the university this year will be more transparent when it comes to informing students about any grade scaling decisions taken by the department while grading the student’s assessments. They will also inform the student if any mitigating circumstances were taken into account while grading their marks.
Apart from free resits and the policy of not needing external evidence for mitigating circumstances, what other headline wins have you managed to achieve this year?
Apart from free resits and the self-certification policy, I was able to convince the university to provide extra ways for students to gain the upper class of degree when the student’s marks are in the boundary between classes. In addition to this, the university will be giving students more opportunities to discount marks (i.e. not include particular grades while calculating the students’ final grades) when he/she has not scored well. This step will be taken in a wider variety of situations including in cases where the low scores can be attributed to the new format of assessments, eg: online exams. Furthermore, the university – across all departments – will be using the practice of grade scaling. This is where students’ overall marks will be raised if this year’s exam performance is lower than that of pre-covid years. A point to be noted about this practice is that, in some cases, a student’s grades may be reduced, but in most cases, they are raised.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I think it’s the Student Feedback Committee. Getting somewhere where student academic feedback formally goes will empower students for years to come.
What has been your biggest surprise about being an FTO?
It’s been how much stuff I’ve been able to do that goes beyond education. There’s so much scope for change.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle that you faced during your time in office?
I think it was when I burnt myself out when everything was up in the air. It was intense, but you do your best for students when you’re feeling your best.
Outside of education, what is the biggest issue that students are facing right now?
Universities should be giving a lot of money back to students but the government hasn’t given them the money that they need. The government is going to have to review the model for higher education.
Where are you going? Why are you leaving? And what are you going to be doing in the future?
I started applying for jobs because we’ve got such a strong team right now they’re going to be okay. So I’m going to be part of the global opportunities team, working on environmental sustainability. I’ll be starting next week!
We’re about to move into the FTO elections season, so what is the best piece of advice that you would give?
This is a time for real change, but see that with open hands and also make sure that we don’t regress as an institution.
Note: Since February 5th was Bee’s last day in office, from Monday the 8th of February onwards – as decided and disclosed earlier – all her portfolio responsibilities will be collectively handled by the rest of the FTO team which now comprises of only 5 members. This arrangement is temporary and will go on until a new VP for Education can be elected in Week 8 of this term and enter into office at the start of the summer vacations in June.