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The Office for Students needs student representation

Friday 15-09-2017 - 16:37

I’m disappointed to announce that yesterday I was informed that my application to be on the Board of the Office for Students (OfS) was rejected, prior to interview.

I was elected at National Conference in April to represent HE students across the country with a mandate to engage fully with the new Office for Students and when the opportunity to apply to the Board arose, it was the obvious thing to do.

Alongside Shakira, who has applied specifically for the student experience place, we both recognised how important it was that the student voice was at the heart of the higher education reforms.

NUS is represented on almost 30 Higher Education Committees across various bodies from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, to HEFCE, to the Higher Education Academy and many more. We are well respected within the higher education sector and expected that to be recognised as the sector goes through the most significant reforms in a generation 

We don’t know fully why my application was rejected or what the final board will look like, but several things are clear.

I made it clear at the time that having only one seat on the board reserved for “student experience” was not good enough, but even more so today, the OfS will lose credibility with the students if it fails to demonstrate that there is student representation at the highest levels.

Failure to do so increases the risk that the OfS doesn’t have student interests as its core objective. In addition, sector bodies are often populated by the same sorts of people; a board which does not reflect the ethnic diversity across higher education is no good for the sector and certainly not good for students.

The NUS President’s application is still live and I hope that those making the final decisions take into consideration the real reputational risk for not having the only national body which represents students, NUS,  as a key active stakeholder within the new organisation.

This doesn’t end here: I will continue to make the case that student representation must be embedded at every level throughout higher education, and any support to make that case more strongly from the student movement and beyond will be greatly welcomed. Get in touch: amatey.doku@nus.org.uk

Amatey Doku
Vice President (Higher Education)

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