Oxford students, indeed students all across Britain, are dangerously disengaged from politics, both national – only 40 per cent of us have registered to vote – and local – only 14 per cent voted in the OUSU elections, attendance at common room meetings is often ropey and our student political parties are populated by tiny groups of dedicated keenos.
I’ll hold my hands up as pretty much the archetypal Oxford student politician: I am a sabbatical officer of the student union, and before that was JCR president and a member of the Labour Club.
You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t think the solution to the problem of engaging students in politics lies in gimmicks or politicians trying to be cool.
The solution, and my proposal for 2015, is simpler than that: politics needs to have more impact. Both national and student politicians often seem interested more in personal gain for themselves than in making change happen.
It’s my view that only when student politics makes more of a tangible difference in the day-to-day lives of more students will we have created a real incentive for students to care. OUSU is changing: finally, thanks to last year’s team, we’ve got the budget we need. Your sabbatical officers finally have the support they need, and we are all committed to changing this university.
To achieve this, I’ll be launching OUSU’s first ever Vision for Education this Hilary. This process will involve OUSU spending serious time listening to what Oxford students want from their education, and then devising a plan to campaign effectively and systematically over the next five years to make that happen. Feedback on prelims, better doctoral supervision, a more diverse curriculum: we’ll be joining up the most vital student academic issues for the first time, and campaigning on them consistently, year after year.
I believe students are some of the most passionate, proactive and progressive people in the world. I’m proud to serve the students of Oxford.
You deserve politics to achieve more for you. Only once we do more for you will we have earned the right to moan about you not engaging with us.
If you care about education at Oxford, get involved in the Education Vision process this term by sending me an email at email@example.com