Learning lessons from Covid-19
Ben’s manifesto puts a real emphasis on learning from Covid-19 by continuing lesson capture across all departments while also investigating the effects of pre-recorded lectures on students’ wellbeing. Ben will use the results of this student consultation to work with the University to decide whether we should continue pre-recorded lectures.
Like Ben, Jacob promises to identify best practice from teaching in the Covid era, such as the continued recording of lectures where possible. He also emphasises the need to improve peer learning, by reviewing peer mentoring and expanding PAL to more courses and Departments.
Ben and Jacob both told Bath Time in their manifesto interviews that inclusivity and diversity is their top priority in terms of policy areas. Both candidates have an extensive list of reforms that will ensure that the education planning becomes increasingly inclusive.
As a disabled student, Ben understands the importance of comprehensive support in helping students succeed at university. His manifesto sets out his intentions to assess how effective the current Disability Action Plans are in helping students and to meet regularly with diversity and support groups so that they can shape diversity policies. He also hopes to work with the University to close existing attainment gaps, such as those affecting ethnic and racial minorities, lower income students, disabled and mature students.
Jacob is already involved in efforts to decolonise the curriculum in his role as a Faculty Rep, and argues that lectures should do more to highlight relevant contributions from outside Europe. He suggests that when introducing a new concept, lecturers should recognise the range of researchers from various backgrounds who have contributed to the field, rather than just one Eurocentric individual who is often cited above all others. He also promises to add Liberation Academic Reps from underrepresented groups to SSLCs, and to improve access to physical spaces on campus for disabled students.
Assessments and exams
Ben supports a wider range of assessment types to alleviate exam season stress. Additionally, to ensure that students are well-rested and that their mental health doesn’t suffer towards the end of term, he wants to mandate a 24-hour break between assessment deadlines.
Jacob supports a move towards more open book and online exams post-Covid, should students want them, to avoid the “memory test model” of traditional assessments. He also proposes the release of averages and distributions for all assessments, and that lecturers should provide specific exam technique advice to help students transition back into in-person exams post-Covid.
Support for students
Ben wants to expand support for students who are on their placement years. He intends to do this with in-person and virtual departmental socials for students so that they can integrate back into the university community after their placements. Furthermore, Ben wants to navigate the impact of Brexit on placements and years abroad, by providing extensive visa support to students. Lastly, Ben wants to work with the Community Officer to advocate for more comprehensive mental health support based on feedback from the SU summit.
Jacob proposes an anonymous malpractice reporting tool, where students can make suggestions to their Academic Reps and Education Officer in confidence. To help international students, he would ensure that placement advertising events highlight which employers are able to sponsor tier 4 visas.
Ben thinks that a practical and achievable goal of his manifesto is to maximize library desk space after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, by redesigning the desk layout to make it more efficient. Furthermore, Ben hopes to review and improve the personal tutor system through increased communication between tutors and students. Lastly, he wants to start an open dialogue with the university about the issues with timetables and deadlines not being released early enough.
One of Jacob’s most eye-catching manifesto pledges is the introduction of a universal reading week each semester to improve student wellbeing, arguing that stress levels “don’t have to be this way”. Like Ben, he also proposes the creation of additional study space in the atriums of buildings such as The Edge and 4W, and a reform to the “pretty poor” existing booking system.
Both candidates promise a broad list of well thought out reforms which all aim to make a real impact to students’ learning experience at Bath. With a real focus on responding to Covid, addressing concerns with outdated syllabuses and prioritising mental health, it will be interesting to see which candidate differentiates themselves as Bath’s best bet.