Charlotte Andrew is running for the position of Students’ Association President. She is currently Association Alumni Officer and on the Students’ Association Board of Trustees.
Touching on several issues that are almost universally regarded as important to St Andrews students, Andrew’s manifesto covers her views and goals on widening access to the University, accommodation issues, national representation for students and the Students’ Association, alumni communication, the environment, international students’ concerns, and “improving the internal dynamics of your union.”
Ms Andrew proposes instituting a system in which the Students’ Association would strengthen its relationship with the Admissions Department and create an outreach program that would send students back to their home areas to present information on St Andrews and reasons to apply to attend. Ms Andrew offers this as a solution to the “unfortunate image of St Andrews students as elitist” due to the fact that the “University is located in a town with notoriously expensive living and academic costs.” She states that it is “not true of the current student body” and that “it’s not fair for prospective students who want to apply to our university but are deterred by this image.”
Ms Andrew’s manifesto goes on to emphasise the importance of the Association President and the Students’ Association being engaged with national issues such as the abolishment of Maintenance Grants and new UK visa requirements and regulations that are putting a strain on international students who wish to work in the UK after graduation.
For the issue of accommodation, Ms Andrew advocated for increasing the number of university managed properties by advertising this option to local landlords. She wishes to increase the role of the Union’s Accommodation Advocate to assist students with obtaining private accommodation, a plan that, if successful, could help dramatically with accommodation.
Ms Andrew mentions wishing to work to make hall fees more affordable, potentially by moving to a system where students could pay hall rent monthly. However, this seems not only an unrealistic system for University Accommodation Services to adopt, but also as an ineffective way to combat the issue of the actual cost of housing fees.
Ms Andrew promises to use her position as Association President to “explore Fife Council’s justifications for the HMO ban” and explains the detrimental nature of the ban and its effects on the housing situation in the town but again fails to mention any clear course of action on how she would change the current situation.
Ms Andrew focuses in on the issue of international student tuition fees and her goal of having the university reduce the annual increase of tuition fees for international students. Again, this seems like a noble cause but an issue that the Association President may not have much influence on.
However, Ms Andrew makes an interesting suggestion on the linkage of international tuition fees to the conversion rate of their home currency in order to limit the effect changes in currency exchange rates can have on the ability for international students to afford the university tuition fees. Ms Andrew states that these policies would “ensure a level of stability in costs that will allow students to plan for their entire career at university and be financially prepared for their time in St Andrews.”
Ms Andrew is uniquely situated to manage St Andrews alumni relations as she is the University’s first Association Alumni Officer. She wishes to increase the amount of scholarships and bursaries made available to students by St Andrews alumni. A goal that would benefit students immeasurably.
Following the “Fossil Free St Andrews” movement to an extent, Ms Andrew advocates for the university to divest from oil and gas companies and move investments into “green technology.” Ms Andrew also wishes to maintain St Andrews’ status as “leaders in Social Responsibility” and wishes to “[maintain] the reputation and the success of our university.”
Within the Union
Advocating for a change and improvement to the way the Students’ Association interacts with St Andrews students, Ms Andrew states that she has a “serious problem with the current structure of the Student Association hierarchy” and that there is “currently no way to hold ‘sabbs’ to account or question their progress in a convenient way, and no way to complain if there were, however unlikely, a serious problem with a sabbaticals’ behaviour or work.”
On a technical scale, Ms Andrew suggests greater transparency with the SRC and Students’ Services Council (SSC). Ms Andrew proposes that “there should be photos of these individuals [Council Members] in the Union, their reports should be advertised to a greater extent and there should be posters in the Union and Halls demonstrating the structure of SRC and SSC.”
Ms Andrew proposes conducting a “Question Time” event with sabbatical officers twice a semester where students could “ask their ‘sabbs’ about their progress and give feedback on their work.”
The Saint’s Assessment
Overall, Ms Andrew provides several interesting and novel proposals for improvements to issues ranging from international tuition fees to the administrative structure of the Students’ Association itself.
Ms Andrew’s alumni relations experience and goals for environmental improvement would aid the Students’ Association when focusing on its future and her current position on the Students’ Association Board of Trustees provides her critical insights into the inner workings of the Students’ Association as it exists today.