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October 9, 2017 | by  | in News |
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“Education is so important”: The battle for Academic Vice-President

The Academic Vice-President (AVP) heads the Education Team and is responsible, alongside the President, for the strategic direction of student representation on campus. They also have a key role in ensuring the university provides quality teaching and learning across all levels of study. This year, there are two candidates for the AVP role: Simran Rughani and Hassan Tariq.

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Simran Rughani is in her second year at VUW, studying Marketing, Environmental Studies, and Geography. She is running for AVP because she wants “to help other people love learning as much as [she does].”

Hassan Tariq is completing a PhD in computer science. He moved to New Zealand for further study, having worked  as a university lecturer in Pakistan. Through that role, Hassan has had extensive experience advocating for students rights, including making changes to examination conditions, class schedules, and the provision of extracurricular activities for students.

Simran wants to increase the presence of students in VUW decision making, and improve transparency in assessment processes. One of her “major issues” is to make students aware of the exam review rights available to them.

“There needs to be consistency, so that students know when and how they can exercise their rights to review.”

She also wants to increase representation of Māori and Pasifika students “in all areas of academic life.” By increasing the number of delegates on each faculty board, she hopes that would “mean Māori and Pasifika students could apply for and get those roles.”

When asked about how this would remedy the current process, Simran was “not too sure” what the current process was, but would look into it.

For Hassan, the AVP role would allow him to critique existing VUW structures, to make them more beneficial for students.

“I think there’s a huge communication gap between the VUW administration and incoming students. A lot of the time, these students aren’t aware of their rights, or are afraid to speak out.”

“There are a number of administrative jobs in each faculty which hold a lot of power […] I want to balance that power. There should be faculty-level committees to deal with this.”

When asked if, through the AVP role, he would be able to practically implement solutions to address the issues he’s identified, Hassan said that raising awareness was an integral part of making these changes.

“Initiating an objective is not so difficult; the continuation of that objective is much harder.”

“It may not happen instantly, but a voice now can become a voice for the future. If I can provide a starting point, and someone will listen to me and be inspired by my objective, that will be taken up and continued.”

Simran believes that students need the right to be involved in any academic decision that affects them, no matter the size. In a practical sense, this meant diversity in faculty representative groups, and partnership with VUW governance in course design and development.

She wants to review printing prices at VUW, to try and reduce the costs for students already struggling with other financial pressures.

“Students stress enough about assignments without having to pay to hand them in.”

For Simran, whoever is elected must be “representative” and “strong.”

“Education is so important. I think the role [of AVP] needs to focus on fostering student partnership, on increasing our voice.”

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