The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

General Secretary: Grace Skelton

Grace Skelton tells us why we should vote for her for General Secretary

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When I started at the University at Manchester, I never thought that two years later I would be standing for election to be General Secretary of the Students’ Union. However, like many students, as I progressed through my degree I began to notice some major shortfalls in the running of our institution and I began to look for a way to get involved and make a difference.

With the introduction of 9k fees, students in Manchester are rightly expecting more for their money. We have been fortunate enough to be attending Manchester University at a time when the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons is up and running. However, it is not yet up to scratch. It is an incredibly busy building and it can sometimes be impossible to find a quiet desk to work at. I want to see more desks, and separate silent areas and group areas so that you can get on with your work more easily; using the building in whatever way suits you.

It is not only on campus where I want to see students getting more for their money. Living in student halls was one of the best years of my life and I have memories from halls that will stay with me forever. There is however, room for improvement. Students should be able to expect to move to Manchester and have access to Wi-Fi internet. It’s 2013, yet our student halls seem to be living in the 20th Century. I’ll get them up to date so that new students know that they are coming to one of the best universities in the world when they move in next September.

The re-development of the Student Union buildings on North and South Campus has been great to see, but I think more can be done. I want there to be something for everyone in the Student Union and to create an exciting and vibrant environment that caters for all. Students at Manchester should have discounted tickets for gigs and events in the Academy. It is in our Student Union, so you should have priority when world famous bands come to play. I’d also like to see a Community Volunteering Hub which would showcase the amount of volunteering opportunities that are available to students, whether it’s through societies or groups in the local area. Volunteering is one of the most fulfilling experiences that students can enjoy while at University, not to mention how great it looks on the CV!

I’m very aware that many students based on North Campus feel ignored by the Student Union and the University. Students on both campuses should be aware of the amazing opportunities on offer in Manchester. It is important that all students know the work that the exec team does, as well as feeling like they are approachable. They do work for you after all! I’d like to see ‘Text-Me’ cards introduced. ‘Text-Me’ cards are a free, direct and anonymous way of getting in touch with a member of the exec team.

I’ve written a lot about changes I’d like to see happen in the University and the Student Union as it is now. The reality, however is that the students who come to Manchester are changing and there are bound to be fresh challenges in the years ahead that we need to prepare ourselves for now. Postgraduate education is under attack at the moment, there needs to be more bursaries available for those who cannot afford to apply. The diversity of Manchester University is one of the many things it can be proud of, and it would be inexcusable if people didn’t study here because of cost. International students are also under attack with not only increasing fees, but tougher and tougher restrictions on visas. International students bring so much to this University and to the Manchester community as a whole, we should celebrate this. As students we cannot stand by and watch as our coursemates are scapegoated for problems in the education system. Manchester cannot become the next London Met.

Coming up to the end of my third year here in Manchester I can honestly say I’ve had the best time, even better than I could have imagined. But improvements can be made. My vision for the future of Manchester University and the Student Union, is one of value, opportunity, and fairness. I want to see your money being put to good use with improved learning facilities and a higher quality of education and living. I want to see a Student Union that caters for all students, delivering excellent services and looking after its students. And I want to see a University that attracts the best students in the world, from all walks of life, with no one being put off by lack of support.