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Lancaster University Students’ Union no longer has any representation for post graduate and mature students which represent ¼ of the student body despite the Students’ Union promising to “support you in every aspect of student life.”
On the 15th November 2021, Amy Stanning submitted her resignation as Post Graduate and Mature Students’ Officer after being elected in March 2020. As a result, Lancaster University Students’ Union no longer has any representation for post graduate and mature students to which Stanning commented was “a real shame.”
Despite having continued in the role for the past few months, Stanning felt forced to step down to focus on other commitments however, after opening nominations for the fourth time and no candidates stepping forward, the role now stands empty.
Although the failure to provide representation is certainly frustrating, more so is the Union’s treatment of Stanning upon her resignation. Stanning received no response to her letter of resignation from the President, VP Union Development or VP Welfare despite Stanning confirming they “know they got it as I no longer get SU emails.”
During an interview with SCAN, Stanning expressed upset that “nobody has even acknowledged or said thank you” for all her work and felt that “if that’s the way the Union treats their officers, that’s just wrong.”
With no recognition from the Students’ Union, SCAN spoke to Stanning regarding her hard work and commitment to improving post graduate and mature student facilities and university life in it’s entirety.
Stanning expressed that the key focus had been on parents and carer students struggling with university life. Concerns over maternity leave and intercalation were unanimously shared as well as the accessibility of information by the University e.g. pregnant students in their last trimester receiving free parking and the partner of the baby being entitled to two weeks of paternity leave from their studies.
In response to these concerns, Stanning has been working hard alongside Sarah Sweeney from Student Services, Doctoral Academy and the Athena Swan team to pool all information and policy regarding these concerns into one place, making it more accessible to students. Previously this information had only been available to members of staff and had been approximately six lines long.
Not only is this information now more accessible but Stanning has also contributed to further improvements to the policy for student parents and carers which is currently under formal consultation within University governance led by Student Services following consultation with students, Doctoral Academy and the Athena Swan team. If approved, new policy will be released next Spring.
As well as improving the accessibility of information, Stanning has made equally as impressive improvements to facilities through the introduction of focus groups, to provide post graduate and mature students with a safe space to network, and welcomed the new facilities in Bowland for students with children to use for nappy changes etc…
Despite Stanning’s admirable commitment to her role as Post Graduate and Mature Students’ Officer, shining a light on vital issues that needed to be addressed, there remains a fairly sizable question mark over what Stanning regards as “a key constituency that needs to be recognised.”
Without representation the under graduate and post graduate divide will surely grow, isolating thousands of students already struggling to find the balance between work and home.