Student initiative provides dramatic improvement to college

AN initiative introduced by North Hertfordshire College (NHC) four years ago has dramatically improved how the college operates and performs, according to the student union president. Student Voice allows young people to have a say on all aspects of NHC,

AN initiative introduced by North Hertfordshire College (NHC) four years ago has dramatically improved how the college operates and performs, according to the student union president.

Student Voice allows young people to have a say on all aspects of NHC, from lessons and coursework to lift access and student meals.

The student-driven scheme has included establishing a full-time sabbatical student union president, actively supported by an executive of 12 students.

It also includes a student parliament, Principal's question time, and class representatives elected by their peers.


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Stevenage resident Jayde Wood, 22, is the current student union president. She said: "Student Voice is not at all about students trying to get their own way and taking over the organisation.

"It's also not just a talking shop and a box-ticking exercise. We do get positive things to happen, and have an influence on change, because we all take our responsibilities seriously and act sensibly."

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Issues recently tackled include changing the scheduling of student assignments and coursework, improving lift access for disabled students, cutting the cost of student meals, and expanding health programmes.

Jayde, who is studying for a BTEC national diploma in health and social care, said: "Our principal, Fintan Donohue, operates an open door policy for both students and his executives, and meets regularly with student representatives.

"Student representatives have a real interest in making Student Voice work and being part of the team, acting as their mate's voice, and they are not just chucked in at the deep end, to sink or swim. They are all given training in the right procedures, what their responsibilities are, running a meeting, communication skills, and so on. Quite simply, they know everything rests on good will, professionalism, being trustworthy, and gaining respect."

She added: "Talking to other college student union presidents has shown me that the NHC system is special.

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