Education Officer

Hi there, my name is Oscar, I am a law student/graduate originally from Basingstoke. I have only just moved to Reading, having commuted to the university throughout the course of my degree.

Start us off with three interesting facts about you...

  1. During a break in formal education, I worked in a large fridge for a year where I organised and transported food stock. This has made me a master of real-life Tetris.
  2. I once made a cake that looked like the leaning tower of Pisa by stacking five Victoria sponge cakes on top of each other and then glueing it together with buttercream icing.
  3. I have been the treasurer for the University of Reading Anime Society for the past two years despite having no interest in Anime (they needed someone who could manage money).

Why did you come to Reading?

I study/studied a law degree for three years (since 2019) at the University of Reading and will graduate in July.

I chose the University of Reading as it was within a commutable distance and because it employs many very talented legal academics. Living close to Reading, I had taken trips to the town when I was younger and so was somewhat familiar with the location. However, I had never explored the university campus and found it to be incredibly beautiful when I visited on an open day. I have since spent many hours inside Foxhill House, the home of the Law School, and taken lots of walks around Whiteknights Lake.

I also chose the University of Reading due to the Law School's strong connections to the local community and the wide variety of pro bono opportunities it offers to students. Comparatively to other universities, the Law School at Reading offers many more unique opportunities to allow students to go beyond their degree and gain valuable work experience. Having always been keen to do more and challenge myself, the University of Reading has given me the chance to harness that energy, grow my academic skillset and gain an informed outlook on life.

Why did you run for the role of Education Officer and what did you learn during the elections?

I wanted to stand for the Education Officer Role because I have enjoyed spending the past three years representing law students as a student rep and am eager to make positive change at the wider university level. I see this as a great opportunity to branch out and get a better understanding of best practice from schools across the university in the hope of ensuring students are taken seriously and well represented at every level of university decision-making.

Running in the election was a useful experience, it really highlighted to me the extent to which different schools often require different solutions. For example, I thought the usage of lecture capture across all university lectures was a blanket win for students, however, some students have drawn my attention to the potentially adverse effects this can have on attendance within small module cohorts. Whilst I still believe the use of lecture capture in most, if not all lectures is of great importance, I see the need for additional policies around ensuring attendance and have lots of ideas around how this could work. Overall, running for election gave me a much greater insight into student issues I had previously not known and an understanding of where I could focus my work within the role.

What experience do you bring to the role?

A strong history of representing students through RUSU. I have volunteered as a rep and senior rep with the Law School for the past three years, gathering feedback from students and producing lots of surveys. I have also co-chaired multiple Student-Staff Partnership meetings and attended the university's senate since the start of my second year. Last year I was appointed a student trustee of RUSU and have since been contributing to the strategic oversight of the union; ensuring we are acting in the best interests of our students. Thus far my time volunteering with RUSU has been incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. I have also been lucky enough to be awarded student experience awards as the Senior Rep of the Year, Innovation in Academic Representation and Long-Term Commitment to Academic Representation.

Outside of RUSU, I have worked in lots of different roles, primarily in retail as a Customer Assistant for Marks and Spencer and waiter for Pizza Hut and have spent time volunteering with the Reading Youth Offending Service and Communicare. I hope that all my experience has made me more personable and given me the confidence to interact and work with new people.

What do you want to achieve in the role?

I am looking forward to hopefully revamping the current RUSU student rep system. I want to boost incentives, build a stronger rep community and get a greater number of students engaged with student-staff meetings. The pandemic led a lot of students to feel very detached from their degree and the school they were a part of. I think this year it is important to focus on building communication and a stronger sense of community within each school to ensure that students feel they are getting the most out of their degree and being listened to by staff. As a result, I am really looking forward to seeing more students on campus as I hope the exposure to in-person lectures, university facilities and RUSU will drive lead to more students getting actively involved in the direction of their education.

Whilst post-pandemic, there will never a return to 'normal', I think this next academic year is exciting as it will offer students and staff the chance to strike an ideal balance between pandemic-related provisions (such as online exams and screencasts) with the traditional in-person university experience. I look forward to working hard and ensuring a practical balance between these two approaches exists.

Quickfire questions! tell us your favourite...

  • Film: Whiplash (2014)
  • Book: The Master and Margarita
  • Food: Tomatoes
  • Thing to do in your free time: Drink coffee
  • Thing about Reading: Costco

And, finally, what is one piece of advice you'd give to a brand-new student at Reading?

If you can, try to get stuck in early in first year and do not be afraid to take on roles that you may feel a bit uncomfortable with. The university has lots of societies to try out new activities and so many different roles of responsibility to engage with. You might find an activity or opportunity you really enjoy, and even if you do not, this will still help in the long-run when you start to think about careers and the types of work you enjoy.

Check out my manifesto

What does the role of Education Officer involve?

I am the lead officer for all aspects of teaching and learning. The main aim for the Education Officer is to improve the student academic experience.

As Education Officer, I am responsible for maintaining strong working relationships with relevant University staff; working in collaboration on a wide range of teaching and learning projects. I will also lead on academic-related campaigns and initiatives.

I also lead on all aspects of academic representation and have oversight of their work, utilising and promoting the work of our Course and Senior Representatives.

My remit includes:

  • Leading on all aspects of RUSU's academic representation structure including the development of relevant elections processes alongside the Student Voice & Representation Team
  • Leading all academic related campaigns and projects
  • Liaising with academic societies and attending relevant activity group meetings
  • Leading on response to academic issues identified by RUSU Advice Service
  • Leading on the postgraduate student experience and supporting the work of the RUSU Postgraduate Research and Postgraduate Taught Part-Time Officers
  • Support and promote the work of Course Reps and Senior Reps and other students in academic, teaching & learning-related roles
  • Leading on RUSU's submission to relevant regulatory and consultative projects including our Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Student Submission
  • Maintaining positive working relationships with key University staff and representing the student voice through attendance and participation in relevant university committees and working groups

I also attend a number of committees and groups to put forward the student voice; some of these are:

  • University Board for Teaching and Learning - Putting forward students' views and ensuring their needs are considered by the University when making decisions on all teaching and learning matters.
  • Student Experience Committee: Ensuring the student experience remains a focus for the University and the Students' Union.
  • Committee on the infrastructure in Learning and Teaching - Working to improve the framework and structures that support delivery of teaching and also students' learning on campus.
  • University Programmes Board - Oversight of the University's porftfolio of programmes, including evaluating new programme proposals and amendments affecting existing programmes.
  • Delivery and Enhancement of Teaching & Learning - With support from the Welfare Officer, working to ensure the students' voice is heard on matters relating to delivery and enhancement of teaching and learning.