Interview: Pei Liu, candidate for Director of Representation

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The Director of Representation, along with the Association President, 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.

Pei Liu (1)

Read Pei’s manifesto.

What prior experience do you have that you think makes you suited to the role?

I think I do have sufficient experience to be a good DoRep. First of all, I am one of the members of the Rector’s Fund committee so I have worked with various people from the University and also the Rector’s Assessor to encourage students to take internships during summer. I am also the Vice President and one of the founders of the Chinese Hongpao society so I have the experience to organise events from their very basic idea to funding, publicity and in the end final implementation.

The Hongpao society is more focused around events rather than representation. How do you think your experience makes you equipped to represent students from across the University?

I think because Hongpao society is a new society and it was established with the original idea to engage more Chinese students into university life so I think that is the spirit that I should take to the post of DoRep.

If you were elected, what would your aims be in office?

I have four main policies that I want to work on. The first one is an international student fee cap. It is already endorsed by our SRC and it has already been achieved in Edinburgh, just to fix the fees for international students for the course of their study so they can have some stability when they come into this University.

The second main area is that I want to lobby the University to bring back our reading week – at least for second, third and fourth year students by starting teaching a week earlier so we can have a reading week at mid-term. I also want to work with the University to make sure that first year students have a long weekend.

My third area is that I want to further empower our school presidents because what is happening now is that we have a very good platform already with the school presidents forum to make sure that school presidents can sit down and talk about their issues among themselves. Currently, the DoRep, Amanda, can take the issues horizontally across to the SRC or directly report it to our University but I want to do is to engage the school presidents more. I will invite school presidents to our SRC meeting and dedicate a time for them to talk about educational issues so that on one hand, it can improve our engagement in our Union and it will further empower our school presidents.

My fourth policy is something that I brought up in my election last year and I want to keep working with it just to explore the potential. I want it create a global alumni network. We have so many international students in our University and it will in the end create more opportunities for exchange programmes and internships and it will improve our employability.

First of all, I’m just going to pick up on your points about reading week. Do you really think its feasible to have different reading weeks for different years? For example, some second years do first year modules. How do you imagine that will work?

Well, the thing is that we know that the first semester has caused a lot of stress for students and staff and I will spend the rest of the week to see if it’s feasible and if it’s practical but in principle, I do think it’s a good idea.

We did an interview with Amanda Litherland last week and she said semester dates are actually set years in advance and the current system probably would stay for the next few years, and if there was to be a change it would be quite a few years in advance. Do you really think you can do it during your term?

I do think it is going to be hard to do it in the very short term but I do think communication between the University and the students will be really helpful in this and also yes, communication is essential. Even if it is unlikely that it will not be changed in the short term, I think with sustained effort we may be able to get a submission to it and that is not going to happen without anyone talking about it and pushing it through.

It would mean that second, third and fourth years would not have a freshers week. Do you think students would want to give that up and do you really think that provides a welcoming environment for freshers if the rest of the student body is busy with class every day?

As far as I know, this policy is partially carried through in this year because there are some schools having their teaching started on Wednesday or Thursday of freshers week and it didn’t affect the whole process of freshers week. Given that we have relatively less work in the first week and we usually have the sports fair on Wednesday and freshers fayre on Saturday, I don’t think it would have too much interference with the normal process of freshers week.

The alumni network is something that the Careers Centre and the University already has. How do you think your ideas are different? Do you want to integrate them?

I want to integrate them and I want to develop it. I did some background research about it and I can see that we have a very strong alumni network in the US but we do not have it with other areas of the world like China. We do have a lot of opportunities in other areas of the world so I do think it is worth exploring. Apart from the Careers Centre, I also want to work with the admissions office and the School of Management because they already have connections with the world during their recruitment so I think they are a valuable resource to work with.

You said you wanted to create a tuition fee cap for international students. Do you really think that is something that the University will consider implementing, especially as a lot of the income for the University comes from international students?

It is realistic. I don’t think pleading to the University that international students are facing a lot of financial challenges is going to help. I do think [the fact] that Edinburgh and other universities have already achieved it will really be a good selling point for them and this will include their choice of university and I don’t want our university to be downgraded because we charge randomly. I think that will be a good point when I am talking to the University. International student fee caps should not be an upper limit for fees as they can set it as high as they want but to fix the fees for the course of their studies so they are prepared for how much they are going to pay instead of facing a substantial change when they come into their honours years and they can’t afford it any more.

Why do you think people should vote for you?

I think according to my experience, I am a really good communicator. I have managed to bridge the gap between our society and the students. I am very comfortable using various different ways to communicate and to make our information accessible. One of the things I want to bring into the post is to increase the channels to talk to students – online office hours, working mobile, integrate different societies. I have the experience to put mere ideas to reality because from the very start, our society was just an idea and we put it into a society with a website and it has 600 online users and more than 100 active users. Basically, those are the skills that I can bring into the position.

Do you have anything you would like to add?

I think if there is only one message that I can convey through you is that I do want to urge students to go out and find out about their candidates before they vote. That is the goal for every one of our candidates and that is the first step for us to build a very strong student body. Do come out and vote!

 

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