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Each year, in July, the new Sabbatical Officers start their year in office. The team you elected in March to represent you this year are just getting settled into their new roles. We asked them what they plan to do this year, what life in lockdown has been like and to share some advice for students arriving in September.

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I’ve had the best time playing sports and taking part in all the extra curricular activities at UCL, but feel as if it can still be much better. We have a lack of good sporting facilities and I want to change that!

 Everyone’s heard about the pool so far, and that is a major thing im working on right now to try and save it. I want to mainly change the attitude of UCL towards investing in the student experience, as the union has shown over the last year it’s the fun part of UCL, we need more spaces/investment so that more can happen.

Best part of life at UCL

Graduating was special for me as its something me and my family have been waiting for, for a long time. Being the first person in my family to graduate was good but not being able to celebrate it sucked, which is why I want to make sure everyone gets the chance to have a proper in person graduation ceremony.

Life in lockdown

It’s been tough, especially with loads of teams meeting and zoom fatigue kicking in, but making sure I get a bit of exercise every day and keeping in contact with friends has made it better.

Advice for new students

Make sure you get involved! UCL has the largest club and society programme in the country and they’re all so much fun! No one has ever regretted joining a club or society!

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I initially ran for Education Officer because I had always heard about UCL being a top ten global institution - but had never felt it. Having done this job for a year already, I’ve learnt so much about the inner workings of the university. There’s so much more I want to do to benefit students, especially as we come out of the pandemic.

This year, I’d like to continue to work with UCL in closing the BAME attainment gap. I’d also like to do a bit more work on things like extenuating circumstances, and also addressing the enormous over-assessment of UCL students. I think it’s also time we looked at UCL’s co-curricular provisions and how we support our academic representatives. This time last year, I soon realised how new challenges constantly get thrown at you on the job.

Best part of life at UCL

If I’m honest, this past year as a Sabbatical Officer is definitely up there. I’ve learnt a huge amount, met some incredible people and (hopefully) made a real impact on the student experience. Shame it was mostly online!

Life in lockdown

I think the same as everyone else. It’s bought its own set of challenges, but has also helped in some ways. I’m a bit of a people person so I’ve missed a lot of the opportunities for real face to face interaction, but I’m really looking forward to hopefully getting some of that in this coming year. 

Advice for new students

It’s got to be the same as last year - do as much as you can. You only have a few years here and they’ll go by surprisingly quickly. You’re in what is (arguably) the best city in the world, so make the most of it.

I am from Afghanistan where I experienced discrimination and inequality on a tremendous scale. I grew up in an unequal society where being a woman is the hardest challenge, and there is no right to live if you identify with LGBTQ+ communities. Throughout my life, I have faced great setbacks and adversities on account of my being a woman with the Taliban banning girls from going to school. As a child, I had dreams of being a spacewoman and flying to the moon, but this dream was destroyed in the dark skies of conflict, inequality and suffering. Despite all this, I fought for an education by going to secret classes and studying in the basement. Because of all this, I understand the importance of equality and of creating opportunity for all which is why I proudly stand as Equity Officer to represent all students’ interests at UCL and ensure that diversity and difference are celebrated within our collective student community.

What I want to achieve

  • Improve student wellbeing by reducing the waiting time for counselling and other mental health services. I want to urge UCL to invest more into our wellbeing centre so that students can get the help they need quicker.  
  • Increase prayer facilities on campus for Muslim students.
  • Hold cultural and festive celebrations on campus to promote integration and inclusivity.
  • Collaborate with UCL to provide support for the liberation community, specifically tackling issues faced by LGBTQ+ students to ensure UCL is a safe environment for people of all gender and sexual orientations
  • Improve report and support system that students able to report any issue they face
  • Create study space facilities for students who have carer responsibilities and especially for single mothers.
  • Increase the work internship opportunities for BAME students to help address the attainment gap. 

The best part of life at UCL

The knowledge I gained, the events I went to, and the fantastic people I meet added many values and assets to my life.

Life in Lockdown

It was hard! But it taught me so many life lessons, not taking things/people in guarantee, being resilient, no matter what, not giving up and making sure I’m prepared for what comes next in life. 

Advice for New Students

Enjoy your time at UCL, make beautiful memories of know people, learn new things, get involved in so many activities, and have a fantastic experience. Time will run so fast; make sure to use most of it.

I stood for re-election because there was still a lot more I wanted to do to improve the student experience at UCL. My first year as a sabbatical officer taught me so much about how to bring about change and I want to continue influencing UCL and advocating for students.

I hope to continue the work I’ve been doing on ensuring UCL policies are centred around student welfare, but also I’m excited to get involved in some new opportunities such as our Equity and Inclusion Unit.

Best part of life at UCL

The people I’ve met, either through my course, societies I’ve been part of, my year as a sabb, and even those that I met randomly in the student centre who would look after my things whilst I went to grab a tea. UCL is full of wonderful people and I wont get tired of meeting more of them.

Life in lockdown

Life in lockdown has had its challenges and spending a whole year as a sabb in a virtual setting has definitely been interesting – word of the year! I’ve definitely missed seeing people in-person and having lunch on the steps of the Portico but hopefully I’ll get the chance to do those this year.

Advice for new students

Make the most of your time at UCL. There are so many opportunities for you provided by the institution and us at the SU so get involved in as many things as you can (whilst obviously still devoting time to your studies).

I have been at UCL for six years, and I have been trying to make changes, but I did not feel like we were being heard. I want to make sure that students’ interests are not pushed to the side but instead that concrete promises are made and followed through to improve student experience.

This year, as your Postgraduate Students’ Officer, I hope to increase the financial support available to PG taught and research students, provide more publishing opportunities for MA students, provide childcare support to encourage the participation of students with caring responsibilities, scrap application fees for PG programmes, and implement the same no-detriment policy from 2019/2020 for all academic years affected by Covid-19.

Best part of life at UCL

The people I have met, I will never forget our memories.

Life in lockdown

I made the most of listening to lectures outside and going on long walks whenever the weather allowed. I also saved lots of time by not having to commute or run from one lecture to the other, which I spent annoying my partner instead. But I missed playing team sports and seeing my friends offline.

Advice for new students

Make friends and never feel guilty about spending too much time socialising. It proves to be as useful as studying, especially in the first year. Also, try not to leave everything to the last minute, because that just creates extra stress that you do not need. Oh and back-up your work on an external hard drive!

Having my 3rd year at UCL impacted so significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic made me realise the importance of the Student’s Union and of the Sabbatical Officers in championing the student’s voice and incorporating student’s concerns into UCL’s decision making. I’ve seen the positive changes that the Sabbs have brought in over the last few years and I want to continue to improve the student experience at UCL.

The integration of students back onto campus and a return to face-to-face teaching poses various challenges in the year ahead and my fundamental goal is to ensure that decisions undertaken by UCL and Student’s Union UCL are made with the student perspective in mind.

Best part of life at UCL

Getting involved in Clubs and Societies has definitely been the best part of my UCL experience. No one is going to remember that 9AM lecture but rather it’s the experiences I’ve had and the friends I‘ve made along the way that I will treasure long after my time here

Life in lockdown

Like most people, it’s been a mixed experience but I stay focused on the positive side of things!

Advice for new students

Find the balance between your degree and the extra-curricular! It’s easy to go to extremes on either side of this spectrum but try your best and make the most of your (very) short time at this fantastic university.