FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Have you combined the Access and Education Officer?
The Access, Education and Participation Officers (UG/PG) are two brand new roles which recognise the way in which issues of access and education are intrinsically linked.The experiences of accessing Higher Education and then thriving whilst at Cambridge are fundamentally linked and our sabbatical structures should reflect this.The creation of two Access, Education and Participation Officers will ensure there are two full-time sabbatical officers focused on improving access to Cambridge and tackling the barriers students face in their education post-admission at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Access and equal participation will be at the heart of Cambridge SU’s mission.
Will undergraduates lose out in this new union?
Undergraduates in the new union will benefit from improved resources to support them and their representatives, and a new BME Sabbatical Officer will enable us to build on the work both unions currently do to support marginalised groups. These new structures also recognise that there will soon be equal numbers undergraduates and postgraduates within the University. We believe that a single students’ union benefits both groups of students: speaking with one united voice makes us both stronger.
What do postgraduates gain from the new union?
Postgraduate representation will be significantly improved in the new union. The structures of Cambridge SU are designed so as to ensure that postgraduate representation and issues are embedded throughout the Union, and receive both more attention and more resource than is currently the case across CUSU and the GU. There will be a Postgraduate President and a new Sabbatical Officer dedicated to postgraduate access and focused on the educational experiences and academic careers of postgraduates at Cambridge, who will benefit from significantly more staff support and resource than the current GU sabbs receive.
The Executive Committe and Council are balanced in their makeup to ensure a strong voice for postgraduates, while Campaigns will be structurally co-led by undergraduate and postgraduate students to ensure that the principles of the new union are safeguarded while protecting the autonomy of the Campaigns to decide their own structures. All of this will be overseen by a trustee board which will be majority composed of students, be required to be an equal split between undergraduates and postgraduates.
There will also be a network of support for postgraduate representatives with better-resourced staff support and forums that are designed to meet the needs of academic and college representatives at the postgraduate level. The support and resources available to the new union will be much better than what CUSU or the GU can currently provide.
Why don't all of the campaigns have a sabbatical officer?
In agreeing a proposed structure for Cambridge SU, we had to consider creating a sabbatical team that was the right size to function well and which was feasible given the resources we have available to us. We believe that the proposed sabbatical team structure is the most effective way of representing all students given the constraints on our resources.
For the campaigns that are not represented by a sabbatical role, better-resourced staff support will be available in the form of an Insight and Campaigns Coordinator and an Events Coordinator to assist the campaigns. We depend heavily on the time and effort given by volunteer student representatives and want to ensure they are properly supported in their work. The new Executive Committee will be central to the new union, ensuring that campaigns will have a strong and active voice and close links to the sabbatical team.
What does this structure mean for the current CUSU campaigns?
Work currently done by the CUSU Campaigns will all carry forward to the new Campaigns. Cambridge SU Campaigns will be co-led by undergraduates and postgraduates, and will benefit from better-resourced staff support to help them achieve even more. They will be more closely linked to the sabbatical team, and the new structure will put them in a better position to engage with and effectively represent students throughout the University.
What does this structure mean for the current GU Exec?
Work currently done by the GU Exec will all carry forward to the new Executive Committee and Campaigns. The new Executive Committee will have officer roles for Part-Time Students, Mature Undergraduates and Student Families. The rest of the GU Exec’s work will happen through Cambridge SU Campaigns which will be co-led by undergraduates and postgraduates. This will allow for a bigger and more representative team working on each area, with dedicated staff support to help them achieve even more.
What extra support will there be for student representatives?
Student representatives in Cambridge SU will benefit from an expanded and better-resourced staff team who will offer training, administrative assistance and guidance with campaigns. We depend heavily on the time and effort given by volunteer student representatives and want to ensure they are properly supported in their work.
What extra opportunities will there be for clubs and societies?
Cambridge SU will offer more opportunities for clubs and societies with a new Activities Coordinator. They will be able to assist clubs and societies with their elections, provide advice and support, and work with them to offer more SU-organised activities for students.
What if undergraduates and postgraduates disagree?
Disagreement is a healthy part of any functioning democratic organisation. Through reserved positions for undergraduates and postgraduates in the Sabbatical Team, Executive Committee and Campaigns, we've made sure that Cambridge SU will actively consider the perspectives and interests of both groups. Similarly, balanced representation on the SU Council ensures that decisions about the union's policy and activity can be made collectively as a student body. We believe that undergraduates and postgraduates will gain a lot from working more closely together and benefit from their different experiences and diversity of opinions.
What will happen to existing CUSU and GU Policy?
Existing policy will not automatically carry over to the new union. Current CUSU & GU policies will instead be treated the way both unions treat lapsing policies now. They will be discussed by the incoming Sabbatical Team and updated to remove any duplication. Policies that the Sabbatical Team believe should be implemented in the union will then be presented to the first SU Council for approval.
Can postgraduates run for all the roles?
Postgraduate students can run for the following roles:
Access, Education & Participation Officer (PG)
Disabled Students' Officer
Welfare & Community Officer
Postgraduates can also run for any of the roles on the Executive Committee, or for committee positions within the SU Campaigns where appropriate. Each of the SU Campaigns will have undergraduate and postgraduate structural co-leadership.
Can undergraduates run for all the roles?
Undergraduates students can run for the following roles:
Access, Education & Participation Officer (UG)
Disabled Students' Officer
Welfare & Community Officer
Undergraduates can also run for any of the roles on the Executive Committee, or for committee positions within the SU Campaigns where appropriate. Each of the SU campaigns will have undergraduate and postgraduate structural co-leadership.
Would there be any ethical issues with having postgraduate supervisors and undergraduates students who they supervise participating and debating at the same Councils and Forums?
The SU Councils and Forums should be spaces for student representatives to share their views and concerns. Participation in those spaces doesn’t require the kind of personal relationships that could present an ethical issue for supervisors and their students. We're committed to ensuring that all student representatives are equally able to make their voices heard and raise the concerns of students that they represent. Cambridge SU will always create safe spaces and dedicated forums for discussion of the specific issues facing undergraduate and postgraduate students where needed.
Is this a way of cutting spending on the Students' Unions?
No. The University has committed to maintaining the current level of funding available to CUSU and the GU in the new union. Reducing expenditure has never been part of the motivation for the New-SU project. Any savings from the project (e.g. through reduced duplication of work across the two unions) will go back in to improving the quality of representation that students get in the new structure.