Education Officer Abiha Khan is enjoying her time in the job. Here she writes for the first time in a new regular SEB column about her work to date.
As I write this, my first column for SEB, I simply cannot believe how fast my time in this post is flying by.
In a role where am involved in a lot of University boards and committees I really enjoy getting to work with students and it’s been great getting to know a new group of School Reps.
I have recently hosted my first PGR Reps Forum: it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was representing students as the Rep for the School of English.
It’s been great to empower the reps to become leaders and to work with them on their local plans, while incorporating their campaigns into my work.
If you haven’t already worked with the reps in your area, please seek them out and get them involved, especially in your work regarding student engagement, student voice and student success.
Improving the Student Experience
I’m continuing to work on a number of issues to improve the student experience.
A key area for me is supporting Joint Honours students.
In Arts, Humanities and Cultures, I will be facilitating a series of student focus groups in order to improve the Joint Honours experience.
A frequent question I get from students is how we can increase access to study spaces.
I’ve been really pleased to secure agreement to open up additional spaces around the January assessment period so our students have a place to go when the libraries are full.
I have also recently become the Leeds University Union (LUU) lead on the SES Themes Portfolio and Curriculum and I am looking forward to continue working in Partnership with the University to improve our offering at Leeds.
BAME Awarding Gap
A key objective for my year is campaigning to close the BAME Awarding Gap.
All Higher Education institutions need to be looking at this; it’s a national issue and we all need to contribute to the solutions.
There are some really positive initiatives as part of the Student Success agenda and I am already working with the University Educational Engagement team and LITE.
This month we have hosted an event for aspirant PGRs titled ‘Too BAME for a PhD?’ to address the gap in students taking up research degrees.
Together we must close the BAME Awarding Gap to empower our BAME students and to welcome them into the world of academia.
If these students are not awarded the degree they deserve at undergraduate level due to structural barriers, they do not go on to do a Masters and therefore there is a lack of BAME students in PhD spaces.
We must do everything we can to show that academia is a space for everyone, otherwise we will continue to have BAME role models underrepresented in academic spaces.
This week at the Better University Forum, the student panel voted that the University should ‘adopt and implement a strategy to close the BAME Awarding Gap’ which proves that students are also engaged with this issue and I will continue to lobby for change in this area.
I truly believe that the University of Leeds can be sector leading in closing the BAME Awarding Gap and that together we can work in Partnership to ensure the student experience is the best it can be.
BAME Creative Week
LUU recently hosted its first BAME Creative Week.
The week consisted of 20 industry experts from 10 creative industries taking part in either a panel event or a workshop, sharing their experience and knowledge with our students.
We worked in partnership with Accenture, True North Productions and the School of Music, School of Media and Communications and the Marketing division of LUBS to help deliver these events.
It was incredible to not only allow participation but to give our students extra opportunities through student media society participation or hosting panels.
Students really valued BAME Creative Week as it was not just about their future careers, but how they could try new creative practices alongside their studies.
The week allowed me to confront my own barriers as a woman of colour and find a new love for sports journalism which has resulted in me writing an article on male mental health in football – recently printed in the Gryphon newspaper.
Many students told us they have been equally inspired with the week, which instilled confidence and motivation into our student body.
It’s never too late to take charge of your hobbies…you never know where your side hustle will take you!
I’d like to finish by inviting you to call into LUU sometime during your week.
We always have lots of activities happening around the building – no two days are the same!
We recently launched our new Global Student Recipe Book packed with tasty meals from around the world, all contributed by Leeds students.
There will be something in it for everyone to try. Also don’t forget the nominations for the Partnership Awards have opened!