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Where to start with thoughts on being Education Officer this past year?

It has definitely been different from anything I could have expected. There have been two rounds of strikes, some rather controversial debates, leaving the EU, coronavirus, and renewed attention to the Black Lives Matter movement putting conversations about what it means to be an anti-racist university firmly on the agenda. Throughout it all students have shown amazing resilience and held both the Union and the university to account.

By far the most rewarding part of the role has been working with students. At every point in the year the aim has been to understand the concerns and needs of students and to take those forward to create changes and adopt policies that support all students. Thank you to every student who emailed, answered a survey, attended an Education Zone, added to the coronavirus student priorities tracker, submitted a policy, acted as an academic rep, and so, so much more. Each word written has been read and has helped to inform the work that I, as Education Officer, have been doing, they’ve led to changes to the interruption process, the Learning Opportunities Fund (the doubling of the amount available for the second round), the Emergency Assistance Grant, changes to the Financial Assistance Fund application process, the no-detriment policy, temporary self-certified Extenuating Circumstances, laptop loans being sent to students in need during lockdown, early releases from student accommodation contracts and belongings storage, new graduation plans for 2020 students, ad infinitum… UCL has been incredibly cooperative in finding solutions to the issues faced by students and I am immensely grateful for the endless efforts of staff. There are places where I wish I could have done more, but I do hope that the work done has been useful for students.

None of this work would have been possible without the fantastic SU team and in particular the other Sabbatical Officers, all of whom I am very sad to leave, but thankful knowing that so many will continue to be a champion for students next year. It feels rather strange to be returning to life as a student and trying out first-hand the educational framework for next year that I help develop, but after having spoken to the incoming Education Officer, I am confident students will continue to have any concern raised heard and addressed.

One final thing to say would be a huge congratulations to all students for making it through this year and good luck next year – whatever you’ll be doing.