Higher Education/ Policy
University of Kent
I’m originally from rural North Yorkshire and grew up debating political and world issues with my family, so I guess it was a natural fit that I studied politics. I was lucky enough to travel a lot when I was a kid and have continued to explore the world when I can. I love a good political discussion/debate/argument and enjoy learning and exploring new perspectives on issues and life.
I actually applied to the University of Kent to study economics. I was told at college that this would be better for me to get a job in politics later down the line. Once I visited the campus on a UCAS day I knew that Kent was the right place for me, I just needed to decide on the subject. I finally decided to change my application to Politics as for me coming to University wasn’t about getting a job at the other end, but about the experience of learning something that I loved. For my master’s degree I found out about the course from my dissertation supervisor who suggested I look into it. I liked the idea of studying abroad but also still within the English higher education system.
As a student I was heavily involved in student politics, being a part-time officer in Kent Union, to supporting national campaigns for a political party. I was elected as Vice-President (Welfare) at Kent Union for two years and represented 20,000 students on housing, finance, well being and other welfare related matters. When I came to the end of my two terms I started my master’s at BSIS in Political Strategy and Communication. On completion of my postgraduate studies I started as Policy Officer at the University of Kent.
As Policy Officer I support the Vice-Chancellor and Executive Group with briefings and research on policy developments affecting higher education. This covers everything from changes in higher education and research legislation, Brexit, economic performance of the UK and sector, to the skills agenda. I also produce a weekly briefing for the Senior Leadership at the University on these developments. I support Executive Group on specific areas covered by their portfolios, including coordination of projects and producing reports and papers when needed.
The one piece of advice I would offer to current student is to get involved! Get involved with a sports club or society, stand as a course rep or represent students with a shared passion as a part-time officer. Immerse yourself in the school – find out how you can get involved with student led research, attend open forums or projects run by the school. The experiences and skills you will gain from these activities will certainly give you the confidence and knowledge to either get the career you want or continue onto further study.
I was involved with the LGBT Society and was on the committee for Kent Labour Students. I was also LGBT Officer (Women’s Place) and Women’s Officer for Kent Union. I later went on to be elected as one of the full-time sabbatical officers as Vice-President (Welfare) at the Students’ Union. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kent, and a lot of that was due to my co-curricular activities. Being part of a community, whether through volunteering or through academic communities, gives you a huge sense of belonging at a time when often you have just left home for the first time. They provide you friends for life and skills you don’t notice until you have left.
Overall I still believe in the same principles and values I did as a student, but I go about showing them in a different way. Since being in the world of work, I have become more pragmatic and open to different ways of approaching matters. I understand all sides of the debate more and understand that things are rarely black and white.