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EUSA Elections 2022 News

Interview with EUSA VP Education candidate, Henrik Bermanis

Why are you running for Vice President Education?

During my first year at the University my peers and I experienced academic hardships, which could be attributed to University’s poor management of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as preexisting issues in teaching. I attempted to change this though existing mechanisms, like contacting course organizers and representatives, but was met with either lack of engagement or inability for them to change it. This has made me willing to change it by running for the VPE position.

What is the most ambitious point on your manifesto and how do you plan to deliver on it?

My most ambitions point probably is to stop all forms of discrimination to staff and students as it requires profound understanding of the nature of discriminatory actions to attempt to mitigate them. However, my action plan sets four specific mechanisms to achieve this:

  1. Lobbying for more enforceable guidelines for anti-racism and anti-segregation curricula, so it becomes possible to keep people accountable for even slight discriminatory actions.
  2. Encouraging whistleblowing and guaranteeing additional protection to whistleblowers though University wide policies. This would encourage students and staff to report abuse anonymously and effectively.
  3. Pushing for increased amount of liberation officers with more capabilities to help avoid overburdening and reduce processing time for cases of abuse.
  4. Facilitate access to staff qualified to deal with issues commonly faced by BAME and LGBTQ+ community members.

How will you ensure accessibility of teaching moving forward, especially with continued effects of Covid-19? What do you think about how teaching should be delivered? 

I aim to enforce recording of all live lectures and QAs by constricting the circumstances in which lecturers can choose to opt out of it. Additionally, acknowledging care and work commitments as well as accessibility issues for disabled students, I am pushing for a mixed teaching model where all course material is delivered in-person, but also duplicated online e.g., through recordings, online handouts etc.

What is your opinion on the UCU strikes in relation to the impact they are having on students’ education?

It is unreasonable to expect highs standards of teaching from overworked and underpaid lecturers working on unsecure contracts. Hence, I fully support academic staff’s decision to partake in strike. I believe disruption of studies bares marginal impact compared to the potential long-term benefits increased wellbeing of staff could bring to our academic experience.

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In your manifesto, you propose to end the ‘recycling’ of unsuitable course material, push for earlier release of marks for assessments and expand the meet your market scheme. How are you going to ensure this while not overburdening the academic staff?

Firstly, I think it is problematic that academic staff members don’t get paid accordingly for their work to sustain basic teaching e.g., preparation for tutorials, marking.

Secondly, addressing recycling of course material. Using old but relevant course material to supplement main material is not what I consider problematic. However, creation of new material where the old has become unsuitable is a basic requirement for teaching, thus should be regarded as a duty of the academic staff. Additional regulation on circumstances in which old material can be used should only increase the workload in cases of previous negligence.

Lastly, I plan to redistribute financial resources from unpopular infrastructural investments and profit towards paying current staff members as well as attracting additional staff if necessary.

You can find Henrik’s full manifesto here.

Voting in the Student Elections is open 7th – 10th March.

Image courtesy of Henrik Bermanis.

By Eliška Suchochlebová

Writer, News Editor, Inclusivity Officer