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10 Reasons To Vote #Niall4VPHE

I'm Niall Hamilton, running to be the next NUS Vice-President Higher Education. As Education Officer at Reading in the last 2 years, I've worked hard fighting and winning for students. Check out what we've done, and what I would do in NUS.

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1. Mobilised Students To Fight Against Job Cuts.

In spring 2016, the University of Reading proposed a plan to centralise non-academic staff through the PAS review. I mobilised students on campus in two demonstrations, worked with the UCU (Universities and Colleges Union), collected testimonials from both students and staff and managed to halt the centralisation for over a year, and ensure the number of jobs did not decrease. The review was in the name of ensuring Efficiency and Effectiveness of "Student Services", something the institution thought would save money and look good on their prospectus. This is just one of the serious impacts the marketisation of higher education has on our universities.

If elected as your next VPHE I pledge to support students’ unions to identify and grow political and lobbying power to ensure they do not face financial threat or bullying when taking action our universities dislike.

2. Secured Two Postgraduate Refugee Scholarships.

We are facing one of the largest refugee crisis' the world has ever seen, with over 20 million people displaced across the world. We have a responsibility as a country to support those displaced by war. I lobbied the university to commit to 2 postgraduate scholarships, through CARA. I have continued to lobby the institution to support even more refugees working with the Reading STAR network and local refugee charities such as Reading Refugee Support Group.

If elected as your next VPHE I pledge to work with SUs on building and supporting campaigns for more refugee scholarships, putting it on the agenda for higher education institutions.

3. Embedding Liberation In The Heart Of All Content And Pedagogy.

After identifying the growing attainment gaps of BME and disabled students and collecting data on the feelings of isolation of LGBT+ students, I called for a full review of the curriculum. This lead to a framework being developed in collaboration between students and academics, identifying what both parties wanted and needed from their curricula. This review will take 3 years and will demand all modules in all schools review their content, pedagogy, assessment and feedback to ensure its working for all students. you can find out more about how this will work at this NUS connect Show and Tell blog.

If elected as your next VPHE I pledge to Use data from the new transparency duty on universities to publish entry, completion and attainment breakdowns in order to empower students’ unions to fight locally on BME attainment gaps and put pressure on the sector to develop strategies in dealing with intersectional participation and attainment gaps and demand all institutions capture data on self-declaring LGBT+ students, their experience and their attainment levels.

4. Froze International Students Tuition Fees.

International students face limited rights, don't have access to maintenance loans and often ripped off for their accommodation. When I discovered they were also subject to increased fees, year on year, I worked with the international students' part-time officer and developed a campaign to freeze them and stop retrospective fee hikes. I used the arguments again to ensure that regardless of the TEF scores, my institution would not increase fees for current students, and commit to not increasing fees during their academic study, for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

If elected as your VPHE I pledge to work with students’ unions on reducing or freezing international students’ tuition fees and work with student’s unions in fighting against increased and differential tuition fees.

5. Held A 'Rave Against The Fees'.

When my university upped their NSS campaign in response to our boycott, we fought back by holding a rave against the fees. We got hundreds of students talking about the Teaching Excellence Framework, making it everyone's business.

If elected as your next VPHE I pledge to organise regional training in conjunction with trade unionists’ on political education, creative organising and negotiating skills. We need to make the higher education zone relevant and accessible for everyone, but also be prepared to face our institutions when our agendas diverge.

6. Organised A Not-For-Profit Career Events.

My students were tired of the same big pharm organisations and multi-national companies taking over and dominating career events. With the government set on measuring student success based on graduate incomes, we need to challenge this narrative by displaying the diversity of employment.

If elected as your VPHE, I pledge to fight against the government's narrative on what student success is, and promote the use of self-assessment as measure of graduate success.

7. Introduced Feedback Policy For Examinations

Feedback is the most important aspect of students academic experience. It allows students to progress through their assessments, improving and developing as academics. I created a policy for my university on examination feedback, ensuring know how they got their grades, and how to improve on them.

If elected as your next VPHE, I pledge to use my extensive knowledge on localised student issues, I've gained over 2 years as Education Officer at Reading to support students' unions, while ensuring students' unions have training on creating and introducing policy.

8. Trained Over 500 Academic Reps On Liberation.

After being elected as Education Officer, I transformed the training for our academic reps. I ensured liberation was put at the center of all activity, running barriers to education training highlighting the different experiences marginalised students have during higher education. Our reps are in the best positions to make fast, impactful, local change, and we need to ensure they're supported when de-colonising curricula and making assessment accessible.

If elected as your next VPHE, I pledge to support training liberation training for academic reps, expand and develop the Liberate My Degree campaign to include all liberation campaigns, and to work with the Vice President Further Education to put this on the agenda for sixth forms, colleges and apprenticeships.

9. Uncovered All Hidden Course Costs.

I ran a campaign with academic reps across my University highlighting all the additional course costs students face in each module. We ensured this information was public to all students before they registered on models, and have subsequently used this information as ammo for reps to get subsidies for their students within their schools.

If elected as your next VPHE, I pledge to work with students unions on supporting local fights for free education, in any process that takes. I will ensure unions know how to access the resources NUS already has on course costs, as well as supporting and promoting the local work unions are doing.

10.

Over the past two years, my priority was making the SU more relevant for postgraduate students. There is a historical issue with postgraduates engaging within our structures, from the difference in academic timetables, to how union campaigns and societies isolate postgraduates. I doubled the number of postgraduate academic reps, doubled the number of postgraduate part-time officers and introduced a minimum of 40% representation in Student Voice, our democratic process.

If elected as your next VPHE, I pledge to lobby institutions for more responsive and flexible postgraduate bursaries and work with students’ unions and UCU on delivering postgraduate officer conventions to increase engagement and build campaigns to tackle issues on their academic experience and employment rights.

So what are you waiting for?!

For my full manifesto, track record and to find out more about my campaign, check out my facebook page and remember to vote #Niall4VPHE

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