Suntosh Kaur has begun her new role as the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) Students’ Union (SU) President for the 2019/20 year.
The BA (Hons) Children, Schools and Families graduate was voted into the role in March 2019 by UCLan students after two weeks of campaigning and started in her new position in July 2019.
The SU President is responsible for overseeing all of the things that are related to the Union’s governance and democratic processes, from chairing the Board of Trustees, to acting as the spokesperson of the Union. The President represents students at a variety of different levels, whether it be locally, nationally, within the Union or at the Board of the University. Suntosh will be responsible for making sure that the Union’s policy is enacted and that there are long term relationships built in and around the Preston community.
Suntosh, who grew up in Hackney, enrolled at UCLan as a mature student after working in banking for over ten years.
She explained: “I’d decided that I wanted to do something different and after completing my level 3 Teaching Assistant course, I realised I wanted to learn and develop further. So, I came to the UCLan Open Day and the lecturer I spoke to listened to my aspirations and suggested the Children, Schools and Families (CSF) course to me. It was perfect for me and I haven’t looked back since.
“I was nervous at first as I expected to be the oldest in the class and I hadn’t been in education for a long time, but everyone was so friendly, and the lecturers were really supportive. The course was really valuable to me and has really helped to develop my understanding of integrating theories, policies and practices into working with children and young people within schools, families and care environments, which has given me lots of options going forward. Some of my friends on the course are now working in pastoral work within schools, social care, residential care homes and charities, whilst others have gone on to study at master’s level.”
Suntosh embraced life as a student and took advantage of many of the opportunities available to her during her studies. She commented: “My course exposed me to various placements, mainly within schools as that was my main interest. In addition, I’ve taken on other responsibilities: I started out as a Course Rep, and then became the School President for the School of Social Work, Care and Community. I was elected to VP Education Officer in 2017 which I worked as for a year with a goal of helping students achieve their academic goals. My highlight was reviewing the Academic Advisor policy which has resulted in Academic Advisors receiving an increased level of training so that they can better support students.
“As soon as I started the course I volunteered to be a school governor at my son’s school as it seemed like it would fit well with my course and career plans and I’ve recently been voted as the vice-chair for the governing body. I worked for UCLan as a Student Ambassador and have recently been made a Senior Student Ambassador. I am also a Scout Sectional Leader for a local scout’s group in Preston.”
“In 2017, I was awarded the CVCL [Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership] Student Volunteer of the Year and at my graduation I was awarded the School prize for Outstanding Achievement in Children, Schools and Families.”
Suntosh has recently completed the first year on the MA Contemporary Practice with Children and Young People course and will complete her studies alongside her presidential duties.
When looking to the future Suntosh added: “One of my main ambitions as SU President is to improve parking at UCLan for staff and students. It is an issue that many students have raised with me and it is something we can continue to improve upon. I also want to address the costs student incur when graduating. I’ve already had some great experiences as I was part of recruitment process for the new UCLan Vice-Chancellor and look forward to working with him when he starts his new role.
“After I finish in my role at UCLan I’d really like to find another job in higher education where I can continue to support students. I’d also like to complete a PhD and explore the experience of BAME students in education.
“Coming to UCLan was one of the best decisions I ever made. It has opened up options for me that weren’t available to me before and I’d recommend it to anyone. If you do come here please make sure you take advantage of the support and opportunities that are available to you.”
10 July 2019