This year has been a challenging and tumultuous year for both Cambridge students and staff, especially during the recovery from the pandemic. Despite this, Cambridge SU has secured some amazing victories for students this year.
Earlier this year we got the university to commit to scrap the £75 PhD application fee! Making Cambridge more accessible and taking away financial stress on applicants. We also reduced the Master’s Fee to £50.
Excitingly for us and for the student body, we have moved buildings and now have multiple spaces to host events, where students can book out for their own events, or just hang out and study - come and visit us!
After years of lobbying, the Senior Tutors have agreed to put menstrual products in all College bathrooms, reducing the strain of period poverty on students.
May Week was great this year, this was in part thanks to us successfully training 22 May Ball committees and ran the Access-a-Ball scheme to make May Week more accessible for all students. We also worked with AccessAble on rolling out their access guides to around half of the colleges.
Additionally, we’ve been working to strengthen systems of student representation. Just last week, a guidance paper on Academic Rep Standards was approved by the General Board of Education, meaning there is more clarity and support for academic reps within departments, and the student voice will be more prominent.
Our push for more decolonisation work has gone well after securing funding from the SU Trustee Board to support student-led decolonisation work, which will be launched in Michaelmas 2022.
We secured representation for BME students within the University’s Strategic Review of Mental Health Steering Group, and a specific strand to look at improving the welfare of BME students.
We finally got the Admissions Office to disaggregate admissions data by ethnicity for every college in line with how Oxford publishes their data.
We have also run a successful National Student Survey (NSS) Boycott and the University have met our three demands: to bring the reading week proposal to University Council; to publicly oppose links between the NSS and Teaching Excellence Framework; and to co-author a student consultation framework.
In collaboration with Goldsmiths SU we launched the Brave Space Collective, which provides group support to students taking complaints of sexual violence and racism within Higher Education and campaigns to reform broken University complaints procedures. We also worked with the student-led Disciplinary Reform Action Group to set change in motion within our University’s Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA).
We have had some great postgraduate wins. We have worked with the Student Funding Office at Cambridge to launch the postgraduate funding search, a centralised database of funding, enabling postgraduates to find funding easily. After the SU published the Improving Doctoral Supervision report, the university has established the Supervisor Training Working group to look at better training for supervisors who supervise PhD students. And, after much lobbying from our sabbs and Cambridge UCU, PhD students who supervise will now be paid for mandatory training they undertake.
We supported the Justice4CollegeSupervisors campaign which secured its first win: paid faculty training for those who supervise undergraduates.
These are just some of the wins we have had this year, not including wins with the U-bus campaign, lecture recordings, a fossil free careers service, and more!
Promoting the student voice and supporting students has been at the heart of our work this year and I am excited to work with a new team of dedicated sabbatical officers next year to make more improvements to the Cambridge student experience.