The Association President, along with the Director of Representation, is responsible for representing student interests to the University and external organisations, including the government. They are helped by the Students’ Representative Council in their activities, and they in turn control the SRC’s discretionary fund.
What prior experience do you have that makes you suited to this role?
Last year I was on the SRC as a community relations officer. I’m currently the Rector’s Assessor which means I’m really involved in University management and know how it works. I have also been President and Vice-President of the Model United Nations Society, which means I’ve worked with budgets and societies as well.
If you were elected, what would be your aims while in office?
I’ve got three core policies. The first is to set up a Union letting agency. I’m sick of how difficult and upsetting it is for so many students to try and find private accommodation. The second is to lobby the University to charge RUK students three years for the price of four. The third is a Scottish Sabbaticals Forum. I’ve been working a lot with all the Scottish Rectors and a lot of the sabbaticals this year. If we have regular meetings, we’ll be able to work together on campaigns that are similar.
Why should people vote for you?
Out of the candidates, I think I’ve got the most experience. I would be ready to start the job straight away rather than learning how it works first.
How will you establish and fund the Union-run letting agency?
A number of other universities, such as Birmingham, Cardiff and Queen’s, already do this. I’ve had a look at their business plans. I’d plan to fund it in a similar way to Queen’s —establishing a jointly run venture with the University. The University would loan us an initial sum. I’ve discussed it with Residential Business Services (RBS) already and they think it is totally feasible. It won’t cost a huge amount to set it up.
You plan to found a Scottish Sabbaticals Forum. The last one of its kind – CHESS – failed. How will you ensure that the forum you propose is effective and long-lasting?
CHESS also came out with some really set views which didn’t really provide for action points at the end of a meeting. More importantly, it was only for non-NUS members: St Andrews, Dundee and Glasgow. However, we have much more in common with Edinburgh and Aberdeen — for example we all have high levels of international students. The idea is that we can work together on campaigns that are relevant to more than one of us. Our campaigns would therefore be more effective and achieve better results. The international student fees campaign that was started earlier this year in Edinburgh and Aberdeen would have worked really well here.
How will you attempt to fix fees for international students?
We can cite Edinburgh and Aberdeen’s decisions to fix international fees when lobbying for this. I don’t think it’s true that all international students are “cash cows” and can afford to pay whatever the University charges them. The Rector regularly gets contacted by international students who are struggling financially. I think the University would struggle to find these difficulties acceptable because the international community is such a big part of St Andrews.
Considering RUK applications to St Andrews have increased, do you think the university will be prepared to reduce RUK fees?
RUK applications have increased for private school students. However, the number of applications from non-private school students has dropped. Many students feel uncomfortable because they don’t want to incur such a massive debt and may instead apply to places like Edinburgh which does charge four years for the price of three. We’ve got to remain competitive and appeal to the best students. The University has been very willing to do more on widening access. This is another step in looking at widening access outside of Scotland.