By tom4vpud, 20-Apr-2012 13:55:00
Hello and welcome to another Blog by me about my Vision, ideas and passion for FE Union Development.
This blog today is about Further Education Development, what I intend to achieve, and how I aim to build strong, accountable and resiliant Students' Unions.
As you know, FE Unions represent the highest proportion of students in NUS (72%) and yet we are under-developed compared to other Unions in the movement. As President of a FE Union, we see first hand the struggles, issues, victories and defeats experienced by all students at our college, and while attempting to do our best, our Union is under-staffed and under-funded. Trying to make a representative system work when the majority of your college is part-time is difficult... but not impossible.
At City College Norwich, my Deputy President is one of the first Sabbaticals to be an Apprentice, a huge step forward for our Union. With her unique perspective, from this July (sadly after I leave), we will be launching our first ever fully functioning Apprentice and Part-time student representative system. This system has been built by Apprentices and Part-time students, for Apprentices and Part-time students, an often forgotten part of the Student Movement.
For me, miracles happen in FE. For example, take some of our level 1 Engineering Students. In a recent meeting with their Head of School, I noticed a showroom Jaguar statue that belonged in a Car Showroom, and when I asked the Head of School about where he nicked it from, he replied that a small group of 15 and 16 year olds had built. I was astonished, but was more so when I heard their story. These particular students hadnt performed well at their school, got themselves into trouble and luckily onto a course at our College. They are high flying students with fantastic grades, a real testamont to their dedication and the wonders that an FE College can work.
When I originally thought up the idea about running for VP UD, I knew that my being from FE could put me at a disadvantage, but I fully believe it is time an FE officer stood for something other than VPFE, and about time there were two FE FTO's. What I bring to thios election is a new perspective, a new way forward and a chance to help lead FE Unions down a unique and empowering path. For too long, FE has been guided down the path of becoming similar to a HE Union. Now of course I am not knocking HE, but FE will never get there. We do not have the money, staff or Sabbatical numbers. But we do have the passion dedication and perseverance to make our own destiny, built on our Activism, our strength of numbers and our collective FE vision. Every time I have spoken to an FE SU, they always say the same as me:
1.) We need specific support and training
2.) We want to be proud to be FE
3.) We want HE to work with us
Now in Scotland, Aberdeen is a beacon on how this partnership can work with their Aberdeen Student Forum, a pioneering step forward. I want this Partnership model to become the norm around the country, with HE and FE Unions uniting together to achieve mutual aims.
I am Proud to be from FE. It has helped define who I am and I know it defines many of us. I have helped build a Union that is proud to be FE/HE and I am sure they will continue their fantastic work after I am gone.
I want to build a Union Development that gives FE the tools to build Strong Unions. I want to build a Union Development that looks beyond geographical barriers and builds stronger and more empowering Unions up and down the country, from North to South, East to West. So many of us come from such diverse backgrounds, yet we are united in our struggles and our passion. I have never heard of divisions in FE, of overriding differences, just the ability to adapt, the ferocious capacity to improve and the undying passion to soldier on against indifferent college, principals and corporations.
In the following points, I will lay out my plans to achieve this state of empowerment and Unity:
1.) Embedding Participation- It has to be through increasing and powerful participation that FE will move forward. We must ensure we have strong, resiliant and effective Students' Unions that can both effectively represent and challenge in equal measure. I will work with the VPFE to produce model engagement systems, Model Constitutions that WORK and ensure that FE officers do not have barriers to participate in training.
2.) Bringing the Nations closer together- Together we are stronger. Dinosaurs stayed in packs, so why dont we? I want to build lasting relationships between FE Unions across the country, regardless of which Nation they reside in. For the Nations, I will develop (with the Nations) an FE Development and Engagement Strategy led by you, for you.
3.) Tackling cuts and exploiting them- Cuts are biting, and SU's are looking like easy prey. I promise that if your Students' Union is under threat, Ill be there to fight by your side. We need to ensure its Students' Unions fighting back against the cuts to college budgets and cuts by colleges that affect the student population, there is another way, and we are going to lead it. Now is the time for our Unions to become the voice of our students, and we need eachother more than ever.
4.) The FE Path- Be Proud to be FE. I will work with the VPFE to ensure FE development is high on the agenda. We need to forge our own path, with FE looking at new ways of funding, campaigning, training and development options. I am proud to be FE, and to succeed we dont need to be like HE, we should do our thing.
5.) Unions for everyone, not just "traditionals"- If elected, I will work with the VPFE to ensure we develop model engagement and representation systems for Part-time students, Apprentices and Mature Students. We will fight to make sure no-one is on the fringes!
6.) Building Unions that last- I flected, it is a priority that Students' Unions are at the heart of their institutions, both working with and challenging their colleges and Universities. If we are to survive the plotting of the right-wing critics, we must be ready to not only accept criticism, but build on it. If elected, I will work with the VPFE to develop an FE SUEI, so we can find your problems and develop your strengths.
As you can see above, I have a vision, a plan and the guts and determination to achieve it. Come the 25th of April, lets make History, Lets build that path, and build a stronger Student Movement for it.
Once again, it has been my pleasure, my honour, to stand up for FE, For Small and Specialist, and for every single Learner who doesnt have a voice. It wont happen overnight, or in a week, but It will happen if you elect me.
By tom4vpud, 16-Apr-2012 21:03:00
Hello again to you all,
Todays instalment is about my vision for HE Union Development, and the part it will play in reclaiming our education and how we are going to achieve that Vision.
Higher Education is a public good, a benefit to society and it is a right for everyone to access it. This is my core belief behind Higher Education, and that is why i genuinely believe in Free Education across the board.
As the Government is currently going, "Public" HE is slowly being replaced by "Private" providers, and students are being unfairly priced out of their education. Come this September, many students will still be attending University, but many wont have chosen their course because of how good it is, but by the cost and the eventual financial impact it will have on their lives.
When i originally applied to go to University in 2010, my sole reason was to make a better life for myself and my son, not pay through the nose for something that is quickly becoming farcical. I now look at HE education as something I would rather not go into because I know my chosen course would be at the very highest levels of Fees, and with other concerns I wont be attending until I am in a stronger financial position.
Union Development must look at the problems we face in Higher Education and tackle them head-on alongside the entirety of NUS, because otherwise we are quickly going to lose the battle we face with HE right now. The main points I want to achieve within Union Development when it comes to HE are the following:
1.) We must defeat the idea that Students are consumers of their degrees: Education is not a commodity, it is not a tradeable good, but a right. At City College Norwich, we are beginning to turn the college from a "consumer" into a "co-producer" with students. I would work with the VP HE to ensure that we are working with Unions to ensure that their representative systems have access to course planning, department staff meetings and above all the neccesary training to be effective representatives, ensuring that it is the Voice of Students that is at the heart of their institution and its teaching.
2.) Putting Students' Unions and their Students at the heart of the Campus: Students' Unions in HE are the life and soul of the campus, bringing communities together and empowering their members to make a real difference. It is about time we moved forward and began to take charge of our environment. For too long, VC's have held all the cards, and are quick to alienate Students' Unions when they disagree. This must change, and it will. I will work with the VP HE to develop strong and dependable HE Students' Unions that are pushing the boundaries, that put their students into policy meetings, strategy meetings, making sure students are pulling the levers of power alongside senior University Staff.
3.) Free Education... but not just yet: We cannot win Free Education now, not with the level of dis-engagement and resistance from the public, but we can eventually, and we will. We must be prepared to enter the next election fighting for a free and fair Education, but only aslong as our Students' Unions want it. To win the battle for Free Education, we must first win the public over. I will work with all of NUS to put Free Education at the top of the agenda for the next election, and make it a strategic priority for NUS that we begin laying the groundwork of this. To win over the public, we must ensure they see us on the side of "good" and that Free Education isnt a burden, but a right.
4.) Alliances and Partnerships: HE is currently fighting for the future generations who want to have access to a decent education. However, it can only be successful if this battle is fought with FE Unions. To achieve this, I will work with both the VPFE and the VPHE to ensure we build geographical working partnerships between Students' Unions, focusing on training, campaigning and activism. This is a real priority and would begin immediately with my election.
5.) Fight for the Arts: Arts and other NON-STEM subjects shouldnt be valued as currency, but their overall gain for society. Our Arts provision in this country has produced some of the finest minds, and if removed, we are chopping our legs off as we start to run. I will fight alongside every Arts Union, University and all Unions who represent a NON-STEM subject to retain their courses, campuses and institutions. I will also ensure that these Unions (Small and Specialist) have a dedicated development strategy that works for them, working hard so that we have Unions who can effectively represent and defend their members. That is a promise.
6.) Access is a priority: Access has been an issue for a long time, and if it is to be solved, we must pull together now. It is ridiculous that some Universities will not recognise some equivalent qualifications, and that with Enrichment funding pulled, Students are being pushed into other Universities as they do not have the chance to stand out. I will work with the VPHE and VPFE to ensure Access is a priority, with our Students' Unions leading the way, and working with their institutions to ensure no student is left out.
This is my vision for HE, and it can be achieved, but only with your Vote. We all want the same, a decent chance to succeed in HE.... So lets pull together, stand shoulder to shoulder, and fight for what is right.
Vote Tom Hollick #1
By tom4vpud, 15-Apr-2012 17:38:00
Okay so i am not doing this on the right days but its still all good
In my last blog i told you about why, broadly, you should put a #1 next to my name at Conference. Today though, i want to talk about the Nations, how NUS needs to pull together more than ever, and what Union Development with me as its Vice President will look like.
Over the last two years, the Nations have come along in leaps and bounds.
With strong leadership, decisive campaigning and passionate Unions, NUS Scotland has won over £30 million back into students pockets, retained EMA and made sure the Scottish Government is funding their future.
In Wales, NUS Cymru has fought to make itself heard by the Welsh Government, leading engagement, leading against Zero Tolerance and finally getting another FE Sabb! Bloody well done Bridgend College.... but i digress.
And of course, NUS-USI, working wonders in defence of Irish Students, our sometime forgotten cousins across the short sea that separates us.
Why arent we winning back like that in England?
Because we have a government who is fundamentally against us.... and Let's consider this for a moment. We truly face a government that is fundamentally, with every fibre of their collective being, against what we stand for. Fairer and equal access to HE? AGAINST! Supporting Mature Students and the Disabled in education? AGAINST An Education that supports and empowers our students? Yeah you guessed it, AGAINST! (So against in fact that they want to go back in time to the 1950's).
Why the hell are we not pulling together as an entire National Union?!
Why are not using the expericence of Unions in the Nations to combat what is happening right now?! I remember When the ConDem government proposed raising Tuition Fees, the Nations rallied around us. When the ConDems removed EMA, the Nations had our backs.... but when Scotland were fighting for funding and support, our Unions were not there to back them up. This needs to change, and it is going to change.
If elected, I will work with the Nations to give them the Union Development they need. The needs of Aberdeen Association are far different to Norwich, and the needs of Uni of Belfast are far different to those of Manchester, so why do we treat them all the same with Union Development? The Nations need their own, specialised form of Union Development if they are to move forward. We must build on our strengths and work to eliminate our weaknesses.
For too long, we have left the Nations in the cold, lets reach out and pull them in. Speaking to Officers from across the Nations has left me with a feeling that we have let them down, but with the inspiration to do far better.
There is one promise ill make the Nations, that if elected, NUS UK will stand by Scotland, Ireland and Wales. That when you need me, ill be there. I am there to serve you, not the other way round. When you need us, we'll be there to help you fight your corner. You'll get the support you deserve. You'll get the help you need.
Ill be the Vice President of UD that you deserve.
So... When your at Conference listening to the speeches, remember that i am there, on the ground when you need me, and not just when Election time comes calling.
By tom4vpud, 15-Apr-2012 17:36:00
Its two weeks till conference and i literally cannot wait for it to start! SHARE IT!
With these last two weeks to go, i am beginning a blog that will be updated daily about why i am running, what NUS means to me, my vision for NUS, and how your vote can make history.
So lets begin here, with why I am standing to be your next NUS Vice President of Union Development:
For me, Union Development is not just about developing and strengthening Students' Unions, but also about strengthening the movement. As an FE Sabbatical President, i know all too well the struggle that FE has making its voice heard as loud as everyone elses. This is also the same problem for many Small and Specialist Unions, who struggle just like FE to fit into events that too often are inaccessible, expensive and sometimes, completely out-of-touch with much of what really happens in our Unions.
If elected i will develop, alongside the other VPs, strategies and training that is built for you, by you, be it FE Development, S+S Engagement and support structures or working with HE to put your Voice at the heart of your Institution, if you need it, we are going to provide it.
Too often, FE and S+S are expected to fit the same mould as the bigger HE Unions, with large block grants, commercial services and lots of support... and we do not fit that mould! We should be proud to go down our own paths, separate but united behind our common goal of empowering our members, building for the future and helping our students find their own, powerful voices.
Instead of ranting and raving about the injustice of it all, i am prepared to do something about it.
I want to build an NUS that harnesses the strengths of HE, FE and Small and Specialist Unions and empowers our membership now and in years to come.
NUS needs to ensure we are building strong and effective Unions that empower those on the "fringes", such as post-grads getting involved and making their voices heard, nurses getting representation and support when they most need it, International Students breaking through the barriers and getting themselves heard and valued within the movement!
We need this Unity, more than ever before, to reach out pull together.
If we dont, we fail.... if we do, we may just win.
I want the Nations, long left in the cold by NUS UK, brought back in and given the development support they deserve and need. After speaking to NUS Scotland officers, Sabbs and volunteers, it is clear that for too long that the Nations have been left out. We need to build stronger links between our Unions across the borders, sharing their wins and losses as they shared ours for Tuition Fees and EMA. When the Tories wanted to remove EMA, the Nations rallied to our side, when the Tories voted to triple Tuition Fees, the Nations marched beside us.... but were we there for them when they needed us?
If elected your Vice President of Union Development, i will be a VP for all the Nations, from North to South, East to West. Your problems are my problems, your struggles are my struggles.
NUSSL is also a priority for NUS if we are to move forward. As one of only a handful of FE Unions that hold shares, i found, alongside others, that NUSSL is a struggle to understand and become a part of. If elected, i want more FE Unions to not only become shareholders, but to actively engage in small commercial services, such as social enterprises, on campus shops etc. to help alleviate the pressure on block grants. I want NUSSL to develop a program and a strategy to achieve this over the coming year.
NUSSL is for all of us, we need a way to get more Unions outside involved. I will be that way.
My manifesto: http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/asset/News/33929/VPUD_HOLLICK.pdf
I have sections for each part of NUS, from HE to FE, Small and Specialist to Apprentice and Work based learner, through to the Nations, and how we must come together to be the voice of a generation, and become a truly United National Union of Students.
But most of all, my manifesto shows a light at the end of the tunnel, a chance for NUS to move forward, to take back what is rightfully ours and build for ourselves, our members and our children, a country and a future we can all be proud of. That is what this election represents, nation building 101, because for too long politicians have lied, cajoled and bullied the people, leaving them powerless and without a voice...
But come April 25th, that starts the change with one small vote.
So remember.... Vote Tom Hollick #1 Vice President of Union Development
P.S. As this was yesterdays, Todays will be all about the Nations and how we truly unite come this election.
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