Monthly Archives: March 2012

Thank you.

This election has been one of the hardest and THE MOST FUN election I’ve ever fought and I have a lot of people to thank for it.

Firstly, Keryn Jalli (twitter: @kerynjalli) and Guy Szablewski (twitter: @guytom7) these two people have been there from the very start to the very end. Without these two, I’d be sat in a cold shower eating ice cream whilst crying out Avril Lavgine lyrics. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAVING THE WORLD FROM THAT.

Also, a huge thank you to Charlotte Britton (@iamheartshaped) and Luke James (@lejj88) who have supported me and encouraged me every step of the way. Terrible things can happen in campaign week – all of them looked like they happened to me; screwing up all your t shirts on Thursday morning, ruining a poster or crashing your laptop as you’ve just finished editing your music video – Charlotte and Luke have kept me going. These two individuals are amazing people without whom I would not be where I am.

Secondly, LMFAO: James Lawrence, Lucas Smith, Lawrence Porter (no relation to Aaron Porter, I checked), Ben Carter and Tom Skirrow. This group of people were the flashmob on Monday night in Oceana – click here for the Oceana Swansea video:

Then I have the amazing people who helped make this video possible to thank:
Guy again for writing the lyrics and singing the body of the song. Keryn and Fembe for filming. Both for directing.

The amazing cast: James Lawrence, Lucas Smith, Rob Abrams, Guy Szablewski, Aiden Ramsey, Josh Nicholls, Nick Hoad (Yes, he is the son of Terry Hoad – UCU UK President – I know, right?) aaaand of course Rebecca Grimes. Watch it one last time:

Those amazing banners that stuck out? Those fabulous posters all over campus? Those EPIC t shirts?
Preproduction crew (i.e. sweatshop):  Mum for making all my badges, Keryn, Simon, Guy, Ruthie, Rob, Rebecca, Josh, Nick, Maz, Collette Ogbourne (best last name. EVER.)

Thank you to all the girlfriends and boyfriends that lost a spouse for a week – I am forever grateful for your sacrifice (this is mostly for the ever needy Eva Donoghue.)

Also – I’m a ridiculously terrible human being for forgetting Ruthie Oldham who had a HUGE ass essay in but still came out and supported me. Also, my laptop stopped working and she lent me her spare one. THIS WOMAN IS A LEGEND!

Finally, we also had a crack team of keyboard warriors and door knockers; to everyone that shared something, spoke to someone, got a door closed on them, got water thrown at them, changed cover / profile photos, to everyone that spent an hour or two on facebook chat, to everyone that got their housemates / coursemates to vote – THANK YOU!!!!

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An empty shell: Swansea University’s Employment Academy

Zahid delivering a workshop on Student Unions at Amnesty UK's national training conference, Action For Change.

Today, the University has announced that it has created plans for a new ‘Employability Academy’ to change Swansea University’s approach to careers.

Beyond the obvious re-branding of current services to fit this new academy, there is a genuine move away from the current approach to a system that decentralises the careers services in principle. Whilst this is excellent, we need to consider the bread and butter that will allow such a structure to deliver for students and to keep services sustainable in the long term.

There are still only 3.5 careers advisors trying to stretch their services to 15000 students. All that the University have done is appoint one senior lecturer from each school as an ‘Employability Champion.’ With a team of current teaching staff, these champions will focus on ‘enhancing work placement opportunities, developing entrepreneurial skills and supporting enterprise.’

Beyond the fancy words, we need to consider if this will actually translate into a better service or if it is just a flash in the pan that’ll pay lip service to employability for next year’s prospectus. Worryingly, when we look at the proposals, there are no plans to increase resources or staffing levels to support these Employability Champions actually deliver a careers service.

This week, with zero support from careers services, approximately 50-100 students from different backgrounds looking to get onto Graduate Entry Medicine will have paid (out of their own pockets) on average of £250 for an external exam, course materials and private tuition to get onto their next programme of study. Many students will also submit applications to highly competitive graduate schemes without a professional second opinion on their application. Other Universities either provide financial support or at least a more comprehensive careers services that support their students on their journey from University to employment / further learning.

I can see how this new structure will definitely be more efficient at identifying such issues. However I can’t see how it’ll be able to deal with the problems. With a visible lack of dedicated careers advisors and with no resources – how many students will receive enough support to get on to their preferred career? What proportion of students will have to fork out money for extra resources or support? How much will this cost on average? The Students Union must start asking these questions.

The Students’ Union needs to get real about employability, challenge the rhetoric and win more staff support to match the growing demand for careers support. The University needs to stop talking about student voice and start acting on it.

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Usman Ali, the NUS UK Education Officer explains why he’s backing #Raja4Education

This morning, NUS UK’s chief spokesperson on University Educationexplains why he has lent his support to my campaign for Education Officer.

Usman said “Zahid is the only candidate from Swansea University that has attended training on improving teaching – his manifesto reflects this commitment to improve the educational experience of students studying at Swansea University.”

He added, “I’m happy to back Zahid for Education Officer because I know that he is a committed, passionate and experienced student officer that has already shown dedication to improving education for students across Wales through his work on the NUS Wales National Executive Committee.”

Usman finished by saying, “It’s important that students look to experience and elect an Education Officer that has a strong record of standing up for Swansea students on Education issues. I am confident that Zahid Raja is that candidate.”

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