Empowering college students to use their voice and ensuring education for all are the vowsBradford College’s Salsabil Elmegri made after being voted in to represent further education (FE) students on a national platform.
Salsabil, who is Vice President of Bradford College’s Student Union and student representative on the College’s board of governors, has been elected the National Union of Students’ Vice President for Further Education.
Fighting for FE students and apprentices in Parliament
She said: “As your Vice President Further Education, I am proud to be elected and want to see NUS fight for FE students and apprentices on the ground and in parliament. It will become my mission to ensure that the issues you want tackled are all top of the agenda. We need an inclusive curriculum that doesn’t shut anyone out because we should all have access to education.
“I will make sure we do everything possible in order to represent the 4.5 million FE learners I represent on a local and national level. Through this I believe we can attain an accessible education system and a united movement.”
Nobody left behind
In her new role Salsabil will focus on addressing student poverty, fighting for better mental health provisions, ensuring there is accessible education for all, campaigning on climate change, tackling harassment and youth crime, and developing further education (FE) student unions so they can become better funded and support students across the board.
She was elected for a two-year term, achieving 48 per cent of votes, following the NUS National Conference to elect NUS’ leaders and vote on the organisations’ campaigning priorities. Students, elected officers and campaigners from further and higher education, including apprentices, from across the UK, took part in the online conference.
An exciting journey
Speaking after her election, Salsabil, who is 21 and lives in the centre of Bradford, said: “I woke this morning and had to check it was happening, it felt so unreal!
“It’s been quite a journey. It’s been really great, I had the support of a lot of people.”
For the past two years Salsabil has been campaigning on many important issues. She said: “I got into it first when I was studying my Access to Higher Education course at Bradford College. I was the course representative for my class and I was contacted by the Students’ Union through a newsletter about becoming a sabbatical officer.”
Shaping the NUS’ work
The job description for this position, which is a full-time post where the holder is elected by members of the Students’ Union, matched many of Salsabil’s interests, such as campaigning, supporting students and organising events.
“I thought, why not go for it?” said Salsabil. “We then started campaigning, asking students to vote for me. I was elected. I was the full-time officer at my Students’ Union.”
Salsabil has worked to shape the union’s work and make sure it is in the best possible position to support the needs of its students, which are unique to Bradford College and the young and vibrant community it serves.
Dedication to wellbeing
Even while the college is physically closed to students, Salsabil’s dedication to ensuring the wellbeing of the students continues. She said: “During this pandemic, we are all affected and there needs to be a focus on students; particularly FE students whose academic work has been severely affected with regards to the grading system and having access to resources.
“It’s very important that we are supporting those who have been negatively impacted by the virus, and that we are protecting the rights of those students in education; ensuring that those of the most marginalised backgrounds and groups are protected and that the integrity of the education is preserved.
We are strong enough
“Even past this Covid-19 period, and I know we are strong enough to fight this, we need to have systems in place that has students in mind and includes provisions to education to those that have been negatively impacted because of the circumstances we’re in.”
Now that she is campaigning on a national level, Salsabil wants to see the NUS fighting harder for FE students and apprentices, as she has at Bradford College. “In my new role, I would like to make a real change within climate change activism and getting it embedded into the curriculum.
“Supporting students with developing their union is a massive passion of mine. As a further education union, we tend to struggle because we don’t have the facilities that higher education does, especially funding-wise, but we do phenomenally well with the budget we have. I can’t wait to get started and make sure our national union gives FE the voice it deserves.”
About the Students’ Union
Voting for the post took place online, with an overall 80% election turnout recorded. Voting was open to delegates from NUS member students’ unions between 16 and 31 March.
The Students’ Union exists to make the lives of Bradford College students’ better, ensuring the voice is heard on their course. You can find out more about Bradford College Students Union on the College website.