I resumed school in September 2018 as a postgraduate student of the prestigious and exciting MA in International Education and Development in the school of Education and Social Work. Before long, we had formed bonds in the class and we became a family. It was fortunate for me, since I had left a wife and daughter (born in August last year) in Nigeria to come for this course on a Chevening scholarship.
Soon there was a call for Student Reps. At first, I didn’t want to sign up - but I did. My friend, Ola Abagun, told me it was a good thing and that it was only right we should all get involved in the school process.
I became an occasional visitor to the Rep office and made friends with Ellie Turner-Kilburn, the Student Rep Officer. Ellie almost always has a smile, is resourceful and always willing to help on matters relating to students. When she was not in a position to help, she would give the right referral or reference.
I was a voice for us when there was a need to put word out. We had people organising parties, taking up certain issues that pertained to us and generally just looking out for all of us. We set up a WhatsApp group to make communication easier. We had classmates invite us to their homes and show us their towns, amongst other things.
There were certain roles I had to play on behalf of our class. These included being a representative in meetings at department, school and University levels. Before these meetings, I consulted with my peers and got a list of their concerns. They were all properly listened to and before the end of that semester, we were already seeing some action to the noted points.
I got to attend the Student Experience Forum at the University, met with senior members of staff and Reps from other schools. It was a fun experience and though we did not have enough time for everyone to raise all the issues affecting them, it was a good opportunity for interaction amongst ourselves, as Reps, and the University management.
In collaboration with the acting Director of Student Experience, Tish Marable, and Sam Manton – who is a great undergraduate Student Rep in ESW – we started the Student Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Forum in our school. The plan is to have a safe space for more socialising among the courses in the school. The EDI will also be a ground where students can discuss issues affecting them.
We are now working on our assessments and dissertations, an indication that the winds are blowing gently, reminding us that our time here as students is up. Well, for this particular course, at least. It has been fun working as a Student Rep and more importantly, being able to be part of my amazing class, the MA International Education and Development. I know I will miss this place.
Being a course rep opened me to certain opportunities. I also made new friends and got to work with and admire the strength of officers like Ella Asheri, Undergraduate Education Officer.
I got to learn a lot about things I would not otherwise have known, and also helped in making decisions and contributions that I believe are relevant - not just to my class, but to the school and the University at large. It has been an honour and a big privilege doing this and an experience I will definitely not forget!
Su’ur Agema, poet and researcher, is a Chevening Scholar and Student Rep for International Education and Development. He is also the Chair, Student Reps, School of Education and Social Works.
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