Candidates for Vice President FE

Salsabeel Elmegri

Bradford College Students' Union

Aldrich Gonsalves

Dudley College of Technology Students' Union 

Peter Hopwood

Godalming College Students' Association 

 

Salsabeel Elmegri Bradford College Students' Union 

 

I’m standing to fight for you within our national union. I want to see NUS fight for FE students and apprentices on the ground and in parliament, like I've done as VP at Bradford College. As your VP FE I will ensure that tackling climate change, fighting for better mental health provisions and tackling harassment all top the agenda. We need an inclusive curriculum that doesn’t shut anyone out because we should all have access to education. I will campaign for travel bursaries, better provisions and make sure you know what NUS are doing to fight for FE.

Nominated by: Tasneem Elmegri, Bradford College Students' Union; Dillon Stanley, South Eastern Regional College SU; Majid Shemsedin, The City Of Liverpool College Students' Union; Thomas Matthew, Exeter College Student Representative Committee; Najaha Nurani, Leicester College Students' Union; Claire Brookes, Nottingham College Students' Union; Nyasha Nyamandi, St Brendan's Sixth Form College Students' Union

Social Media:

Information requested but none provided by the deadline

Manifesto:

My name is Salsabeel and I am the Vice President at Bradford College. I’m lucky to come from a college with enough funding to pay elected officers but I know that is not always the case. FE Unions are drastically underfunded and NUS has done little to support us in developing independent unions. As your VP FE I will fight for a voice for FE students on every campus across the UK. 

There is no one size fits all approach to further education, from our courses to our students every FE provider is different and unique in its own way. NUS represents 4.5million FE learners but if you came to one of our conferences you would have no idea. I will make sure our events and conferences are centred around FE students. 

Student Poverty 

With cuts to the sector students are deprived from accessing basic rights which significantly contributes to their academics. Frozen student loans since 2008 and its means-testing system in place meant that students are missing out. Students from working class backgrounds are often paying high costs to access post-16 Education, whilst Apprentices are still being paid less than the National minimum wage. Our students are facing a ‘poverty premium’ and it's time to put an end to it. I will campaign for FE maintenance loan and increased funding so that students have extra money in their pockets and worry less on getting by day-to-day activities. 

Mental health  

Mental Health in young people is at an all time high, many of us are on waiting lists within the NHS that seem never ending. We need to do more to support FE students who are experiencing mental health problems. I will work with the Association of Colleges to make sure everyone is signed up to the Mental Health Charter. I will fight for more funding for specialist Mental health services and make sure that all students are supported when studying. I will also lobby FE institutions to ensure there is greater visibility of external services that can be utilised by further education students to receive specialist support.  

Accessible Education 

Everyone should be entitled to an education and I agree that education should be accessible, government funded and life-long from ‘cradle to grave’. The FE sector has received nothing but governmental cuts year after year, whilst HE and schools are being rewarded. Resources are being stretched yet colleges still manage to maintain high success rates from students despite limited funding. Investing more in colleges can allow students to benefit from quality education, and funding provisions such as Student Premium , maintenance grants and EMA. More often students enrolled into Colleges are given a second chance to education, get a qualification and continue at university, apprenticeship or work. I will campaign for more funding and work closely with representative groups and existing campaigns such as Love Our Colleges, for the government to stop the cuts and invest more in FE.  

Developing FE Student Unions

I was lucky to have a union that paid its elected officers, however I know from talking to my friends and other FE officers that this is rarely the case, when elected I would ensure to campaign for better representation as I have seen done within NUS Scotland. I will create guides with the union development team to help the development  student unions on at their colleges and sixth forms. This will include methods in improving student participation and wider community experience to structures of cultural competency care that can be implemented to provide specific and necessary support to all students.  

Youth Crime 

The local council and government closing down Youth centres lead to the rise in youth violence. With nowhere to turn to not be ‘distracted’ young people have nowhere else to go other than the streets. I will campaign for better provisions allowing Colleges and SUs to develop social spaces on campus. We see lively SU spaces in HE institutions that students can freely go to, why can’t FE be the same. Providing a vital space to feel safe but also create a sense of belonging which is vital for student experience but also will have an impact on the wider community. It is in these spaces we will have challenging conversations and tackle the root causes of youth crime. But also provide the vital tools and skills to students who can argue for provisions to be provided for the wider youth community. Lobbying the government and local councils to have the difficult conversations around the realities of youth crime as it is not as black and white as one may believe.  

Climate Change 

Change is no longer a choice and we are simply not doing enough. I will campaign for FE institutions to divest from companies that have any involvement in fossil fuels and really strive to be carbon neutral. I will push for FE institutes to have greater scrutiny in their supply chains and ensure that there is an approach to sourcing more ethical resources. There needs to be an overhaul curriculum ensuring there is comprehensive education on climate change building greater awareness and nuance on the comprehensive nature of the topic. I will work with unions to support and empower students to be at the forefront of this change helping to put pressure on institutions to actualise real commitments to the issue.

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Aldrich Gonsalves Dudley College of Technology Students' Union 

 

I’m Aldrich Xavier Gonsalves, SU President at Dudley Students’ Union and I’m running to be your next Vice President Further Education. FE is vibrant, diverse and progressive and I want to reflect these qualities in the work of NUS when fighting for FE and our right to be heard. For too long we’ve been ignored and marginalised in NUS (and society) but we make up the largest section of the membership! I will be a VP that connects with you, listens to your concerns, and fights hard on your behalf. Vote Aldrich for VP FE because #WeAreFE

Nominated by: Charlie Leivers, Telford College Students' Union; Lewis Callary, Halesowen College Students' Union; Connor Curtis, Birmingham Metropolitan College SU; Khuram Mahmood, Walsall College Students' Union; Yankho Songwe, City of Wolverhampton College Students' Union; Katarzyna Sopinska, Dudley College Students' Union; Glennville Da Costa, Leicester College Students' Union

Social media:

  • https://www.facebook.com/DudleySU/
  • https://www.instagram.com/dudley.su/?hl=en
  • https://twitter.com/dudleysu
  • https://www.youtube.com/user/DUDLEYCOLLEGESU

Manifesto:

My name is Aldrich Gonsalves.  I am currently the Student Sabbatical President of Dudley College Students’ Union. I represent the14,000 student cohort with assistance from a volunteering team of four Vice Presidents.  

My main passion is caring for student wellbeing through various environmental and mental health campaigns. I believe the environment we live in is linked to our own mental health so both should be treated with respect and dignity.  

Further Education can be a second chance for many people. Colleges train 2.2 million people a year, with 1.4 million being adults, which is a staggering statistic. I aim to represent every single student, regardless of whether they are an adult learner, apprentice, a recently joined T-Level student, or full-time/part-time student. FE is FE and there are no limits to what FE is and what it stands for.  

Student Mental Health  

If you elect me as Vice President of Further Education, I will begin the biggest national campaign for Student Mental Health the nation has ever seen. The need for more concise Mental Health measures has increased in recently years, as 85% of 105 FE colleges in England have reported increased Mental Health problems over the period of 2007 to 2015.  

I plan to use our influence as a Student Voice to lobby the government and make it law that every college should have a trained counsellor on site. 40% of the colleges surveyed said they have full-time counsellors or mental health support workers and 77% said they have part-time counsellors or mental health support workers. 

I also believe every college should train all their staff as many staff members simply don’t have the knowledge and the understanding to help identify mental health issues students may have and signpost them to the correct service, which may result in students not getting the proper care they need. This also leads to the issue of raised stigma which also needs to be broken down. 

FE funding cuts 

I have already personally collected over 500+ Love Our Colleges pledge cards to lobby our Members of Parliament to start a conversation regarding FE funding. Even though the Love Our Colleges campaign was a success and our government promised £400 million to FE colleges, I still feel as this is simply not enough to turn the tides for FE, as colleges have faced over a decade of funding cuts. We need to begin an open conversation on this issue with the government. Due to cuts, beneficial services such as counselling and Students’ Unions are usually the first to go, I want to prove that these services are vital to student life and are a must, need and expectation of any college.  

Apprentices   

Many apprentices are not recognised for their Student status; some are even confused on what their status is – whether they are in full-time employment or student on work placement. The parameters of an apprenticeship are blurred and to set the records straight, I wish to help apprentices understand where they stand when the lines are blurred. There are a number of apprentice issues such as their pay, travel expenditure, workplace rights and discrimination.  

Travel expenditure is one of the biggest issues for apprentices, as the need for good attendance and punctuality is important to employers, but can also be a big issue for students travelling to and from college. Apprentices are on low wages which further exacerbates this issue. I plan to lobby the government to bring in mandatory discounts to public transport services for all students, namely buses, trains and tramlines.  

Lack of respect is an issue. I would like to address that apprentices can be seen as ‘not quite’ or ‘less than’ a normal member of staff due to their apprentice status. I want apprentices to feel as if they are equal to other staff members within their organisation and reduce stigma on what an apprentice is. 

Environment  

I am a keen environmentalist and a strong believer that mental health and environment go hand in hand. Nature aids your mental wellbeing, it’s essential that we get away from the loud sounds of everyday life and surround ourselves with the quiet and relaxation of nature.  

There are a number of issues facing not just our country, but our entire planet. I believe it is our generation’s responsibility, as the future of Great Britain to right some wrongs regarding our attitude towards climate change and global warming. In colleges and schools we learn what environmental problems earth is facing, but we are not taught HOW to tackle all the problems.  I aim to raise awareness on this issue. I will lobby Members of Parliament and organise national demonstrations - the power of students will hopefully change the attitudes our government has towards making our planet greener.

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Peter Hopwood Godalming College Students' Association 

 

I want all areas of further education (FE) to have a strong voice in the NUS. It’s time for the NUS to start listening and acting on the issues that are relevant to its FE members, from sixth form colleges to apprentices and FE colleges. We form a majority of the NUS membership, but the FE issues - such as cuts in funding and the government being close to scrapping BTECs - get overshadowed and don’t get the attention they deserve. I would commit to ensuring the NUS stands up for all of its FE members. Vote Peter #1!

Nominated by: Florence Kilby, Esher College; Jenny Corcoran, Coleg Sir Gâr Students' Union; Eddie Thompson, The College of Richard Collyer Student Council; Yasmin Raja, Brighton Hove & Sussex VI Form College; Alys Sheahan, Academy of Contemporary Music; Elodie Fenton, Godalming College Students' Association; Melanie Brooke, Brooklands College Students' Union; Becca Romans, Havant and South Downs Students' Union

Social media

  • https://www.instagram.com/pete_hopwood/
  • https://twitter.com/PeterDHopwood
  • https://www.facebook.com/peterdhopwood1

Manifesto:

Peter Hopwood #1 Vice President Further Education 

Levelling up for learners in FE 

Teachers in FE are paid less than their counterparts in schools and universities.  College funding doesn’t provide essential maintenance, when we need and deserve modern facilities. FE is demoralised, under-reported and under-represented.  Enough is enough. A vote for me is a vote to transform the situation for college students, adult learners and apprentices - a proven campaigner that will put the needs of FE students into the heart of decision making and level up esteem, funding and rights. 

As President of a small College SU, despite being underfunded and under resourced, I’ve led the way in achieving so many wins for our students. When I organised and chaired a hustings at college, I held our local MP Jeremy Hunt to account on local and national issues, such as funding cuts for FE and the NHS down to local issues such as transport.  I have also driven this agenda locally, regularly meeting with councillors to put my members’ needs top of the agenda. 

Under my leadership, I’m so proud that our SU successfully campaigned for gender-neutral toilets on campus, responding to the needs of our diverse membership.  I have also been instrumental in developing a funding scheme for our clubs and societies and have led the charge on a Raising and Giving campaign across the college which has seen us raise over £1000 for various charities.   

So don’t just vote for me because of my vision.  Vote for me because of my track record. 

Supporting Our Students  

As President of a College SU, I’ve watched as our SUs navigate tight or non-existent budgets. As your VP FE I will work with you to develop a vision and strategy for fully funded, politically autonomous and structurally independent SU’s in every college.  TOTUM has failed us, and the NUS is nowhere to be seen. And we’ve let the Westminster government off the hook on their failed apprenticeship travel promise. That’s why I will: 

  • Deliver a national NUS FE union development plan for a statutory obligation to fund and support FE student representation. I will launch the campaign, in partnership with FE providers, for fully funded, structurally independent, politically autonomous students’ unions. 

  • Consult with FE members to demonstrate the benefits of students’ unions to FE students, colleges, and the wider society. 

  • Campaign for 50% rail travel cards to be implemented for ALL FE students; not just 16-17 year old students.  

  • Demand access to proper mental health support for all students in FE providers.  

  • SEN & Accessibility; Fight for more accessible spaces and better support for our SEN students in FE institutions.  

  • Push to ringfence TOTUM income for FE students and FE campaigns, and deliver alternative and sustainable income mechanisms for FE SUs, with practical and innovative methods.  

A Youth Shakeup 

We are facing some of the biggest political issues of a generation with the declaration of the climate emergency and Brexit. Like many students, I couldn’t vote in the 2019 General Election but the outcomes will have massive consequences for our futures.  If elected, I will: 

  • Equip FE Unions and student groups with resources and support on the climate emergency 

  • Champion votes at 16/17 so that FE students can have a stake in our democracy and decision making.  

  • Stand up for the rights of European and International students through this turbulent Brexit process 

  • Partner with campaign groups to restore youth funding and youth services 

Protecting our Colleges and Apprentices 

We need a national union that will respect, represent and reach out to us. The Government’s plans to withdraw funding to Applied General Qualifications with very little foresight, guidance and consideration, despite the sector’s opposition, will have hugely negative impacts. And why do we think harassment and hate crime is confined to HE? As VP FE, I will: 

  • Campaign to protect BTECs and other Applied Generals qualifications 

  • Promote and campaign for increased FE college funding, and support the SFCA’s Raise the Rate campaign to give a voice to sixth form colleges 

  • Work with NUS Wales, NUS-USI and NUS Scotland to drive up FE funding in the nations 

  • Take proactive action on harassment and hate crime with national research and lobbying 

  • Campaign to restore the Educational Maintenance Allowance, setting a minimum meaningful funding level for all learners across the UK 

Our students and their unions deserve better. Put your trust in me, Vote Peter Hopwood #1 for VP FE! 

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