Wednesday 28-01-2015 - 14:30
One in eight people in Leeds is a student. Despite this, they don’t feel part of the community. LTSU’s President Miki Vyse joins us in the Hot Seat to discuss how SUs across the city are collaborating to get their 100,000 students registered to vote in the General Election and realise their swing power.
Tell us about Leeds Trinity Students’ Union.
LTSU is the union for Leeds Trinity University, we've got 3,500 members, and it's pretty small. We’ve had significant growth as a union over the past 18 months, and have even employed our first General Manager in nine years. We've struggled to develop in the past because of resource and staff support, but we're on the track to making something special up here.
What's your role at the union?
I'm the President, I Chair our Board of Trustees and I sit on the institution’s Board of Governors as Student Governor.
What are the burning issues for students in Leeds?
We're actually asking all students in Leeds that question now, one of the things that myself and the other officers in Leeds talk about a lot is how we aren't valued as members of society. One in eight people in Leeds is a student, which is a high number, yet we aren't consulted, listened to or even thought of as parts of our community.
We talk a lot about our safety as students, and how there's no talk about the changes that need to happen to Higher Education as well at the moment.
Can the student voice make a difference in Leeds in the upcoming General Election?
Yes. It's that simple, of course. Between just the universities there are 70,000 students, and then with our Further Education colleges in there too we reaching over 100,000 students. That is a swing if I ever saw one.
Some young people feel ‘there's no point in voting as it doesn't make a difference’. What are you doing to engage students in the General Election?
I wholeheartedly hear this statement, and I know why people think that, the past five years alone have however shown that we can't change something if we're not engaged in it. Activism sometimes takes time to get a result, but it doesn't mean that we should give up, it's not just about ‘right here right now’, it’s about the future.
The SUs in Leeds are collaboratively writing a student manifesto, directly from consultation with our members, we want to know what students care about and what they want so that we can influence the policy here. We're also working together on National Voter Registration Day to make sure we're giving people the right reasons to vote, and most importantly, to make sure we’re talking to them in a voice they understand, we're not over complicating things, or giving them beaurocratic statistics, were asking them about the things they care about most, and what they want to change.
Are you enjoying the collaborations with other unions in Leeds?
Yes of course, we're stronger, louder and so much more effective when we work together, there's a lot of students in Leeds!
What targets have you set yourselves?
That's interesting really, I suppose we haven't talked about being target based, though we have set that we want 2,000 responses to one of our surveys. It's more about being open and honest about our work, and making sure that we are being clear with our messages.
What advice would you offer to other unions who are members of NUS?
Never under estimate the power of collaboration, reach out to other unions and see what they're doing and whether you can work together. Listen, that's the most important thing, we're leaders, we've got the ways to talk to so many students about the General Election, but we need to listen to what they're saying.
Find out more about Leeds Trinity Students' Union by visiting their website at www.ltsu.co.uk or following them on Twitter at @LeedsTrinitySU.