David Mendoza-Wolfson

Do Sabbs Actually Do Anything? – VP Education

I’ve now been in my role as your Vice President Education for half a year and as such I’m writing you a blog to briefly tell you some of what I’ve been working on and some of what I’ve achieved so far.

My role means that on top of working on my own projects I am your lead academic representative. This means that I’m responsible for your Faculty Officers, Academic Presidents and Course Reps, and attend meetings with top tier University staff to ensure that your education and student experience continues to be at the heart of everything the University does.

structureAcademic Representation

This year, your representation structure is more robust and comprehensive than ever before, with more course reps elected and trained than ever before and following a new set of rules that work to strengthen the system. On top of that, now that we have a full list of course reps updated on the SUSU website you can find and contact your course rep easier than ever before, and this will be made even easier when the tool in the Education tab comes out of Beta later this year.

On top of this, I am doing a monthly drop-in session in the SUSU building so that you can come to me with your problems if you have an issue that you’d like to bring straight to me.


Acutely aware of how poor the tutor system can be around the University, I spent much of last semester working with the Academic Registrar, Anne-Marie, in order to build a new Tutor system that will provide you with a Personal Academic Tutor and Senior Tutor who is responsible for ensuring your pastoral wellbeing. This new system will be implemented at the beginning of the new academic year.

The Library

The library has been a key focus of mine this year. I view it as the central independent learning hub on campus and because of that I felt that it should have increased open hours and more workspace. Because of that I have persuaded the library to open up its library training rooms as public workspace when they’re not booked for library training, on top of adding 142 new seats and 154 more plug sockets. I have also supported the library in a bid to the Education Enhancement Fund requesting resource to extend its opening hours. More news on this should follow soon.

Universal e-submission

Assignment submission should be as easy and stress-free as possible. It should also be free of cost to a student. It’s for these reasons that I have been working with the University to push e-submission wherever possible. This has led to a policy passing through TELL Board (Technologically Enhanced Living and Learning) stating that all work that can be submitted electronically should be, and this policy will be going to the Education Advisory Group in the coming months. Though not all work can be submitted electronically, where it can be it absolutely should be in order to make submissions easier and free.

Outside the Classroomappy

I’m of the opinion that once at University we often get so inundated with reading and essays we often forget that we really love the subject that we opted to study. This is certainly something I was guilty of, and so I decided that it would be great to run educational events – completely optional – where you can practice doing what you love, or listen to a great speaker.

We have the first Outside the Classroom competition on the 7th February, and it’s a 26 hour Appathon (for more details and to sign up to a completely free 26 hours of developing with free food and drink and a cash prize for the winners, click here) but we should be having more competitions like this and speakers later in the semester.

Big Question

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I believe that it’s incredibly important to consult students so that I know that when asked what students think I can give an honest answer backed up by evidence. In order to make sure that we get some of the really big issues right, I started a project called the Big Question. Each semester a new question goes out for all students to answer and the responses are then compiled into a report. Last semester’s question was ‘What does good feedback look like to you?’ and we got hundreds of responses that will feed into the University strategy on assessment and feedback.

This is just a sample of some of the larger things I’ve worked on this year. On top of these I have worked on and am working on several projects. Working as a team, we were able to persuade the University to adopt cohort fixed pricing for international students so that students can’t be surprised with fee hikes – giving them parity with domestic students.

I look forward to reporting back on more projects that I’ll be completing soon, so make sure to watch this space.

Lastly, I’d like to add that my job would be impossible without my Student Leaders, my fellow Sabbaticals and the staff at SUSU.

If you’ve any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment on this or tweet me at @MWEducation.




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