Ella Richardson was elected by our student body to the position of Student President in 2020. Her ambition is to become a family law solicitor but for now she wants to make a difference at The University of Law. We caught up with Ella to discuss her role as the president of the Student Association and what she hopes to achieve in the future.
I first heard about the role of student president from an email sent to all ULaw students explaining what the role entails and how to apply. When learning about the role I knew that I wanted to apply as I have always had a keen interest in student representation. I felt I would not only be good at the job but that I would enjoy it. To get the role there was a three-stage process; an application, an interview and then an election. I was shocked to find out that I made it through to the election round and even more shocked to find that I had been successful. I am loving the role and I am so happy I applied.
Each day is so different; it is hard to say what is normal. There is usually at least one committee meeting which I attend to make sure the student voice is represented. Usually I would be traveling around meeting all the students but due to Covid I have been doing my job from my bedroom, so it involves a lot of Zoom calls. I make sure that a big chunk of my day goes towards completing my manifesto goals. I am currently working on setting up a national society, so I have been spending a lot of time writing policy and student guidance.
The Student Association does a lot to support you, from your wellbeing to your social life. The clubs, societies and communications coordinator supports students that wish to set up a society or club and is there to give advice on how to run these student led groups. The executive officer supports students by giving advice on complaints and appeals procedure as well as managing the student representation system. As president, I support students by ensuring the student voice is heard at all levels of the University and completing projects which will help improve the student experience.
We have recently launched our bursary scheme which has helped 200 undergraduate students take part in extracurricular activities. The Student Association also offered a limited number of headspace subscriptions to help ULaw students destress, and we are looking to invest in more. We have more exciting projects planned this year to help support students, including rethinking the current student feedback structure and starting a national society.
The most important aspect is representing the student voice at committee meetings. Although this probably sounds like the most boring aspect of the job, it is essential as I am the only student representative who is a member of these committees. The committees are where all decisions regarding how ULaw will run and what changes need to be made are decided. Representing our students when these decisions are made is important to ensure the student voice is heard at all levels of the University as the decisions will directly affect them. I feel this is the part of my job where I can make the biggest impact as the University values my involvement and opinion.
The Student Association ensures that the student voice is heard both inside and outside the classroom. This system is also in the process of being improved this year to give more support to the class reps by bringing in an online platform to help close the feedback loop.
The Association is a centralised location to connect all the students at all the different campuses. The Association also benefits the students’ lives by giving advice on complaints and appeals and being an non-biased body that can help students when they are facing difficulties.
The support that I received from the tutors is a major highlight of my time at ULaw. I was someone who really struggled with the maths modules, such as tax, solicitors’ accounts, wills etc. My tutor spent a lot of lunch breaks going over these with me, which was above and beyond the help I had experienced anywhere else. Much to everyone’s surprise, I ended up choosing private client as an optional module because of this support. ULaw tutors are always there to help and whatever my question I always got a quick reply, which made studying the LPC a lot easier than it could have been.
Although I cannot always say yes to student requests, it is amazing when I can help a student achieve their goals. Whether that is emailing someone on that student’s behalf or being able to help them myself. Knowing that I made a difference to that student is the best part of my job. The student association is here to help students have the best student experience that they can have. Hearing student ideas and being able to help bring those ideas to life is the reason why I took this job in the first place.
I love that I have the freedom and the responsibility of managing my own time and setting myself my own targets. This is exciting as it allows me to work on projects which I am passionate about and that I know will benefit the student body. Having this freedom allows me to implement my ideas in exactly the way I imagined.
My priorities for the year are sustainability, commercial awareness and community. I aim to organise talks from local and national businesses to help gain valuable insight into how businesses are run and how they have been impacted by any legal changes, the economic climates, and social developments throughout the year. I will also be re-enforcing the policy of sustainability and environmental protection as a priority within the Association. I will ensure that it remains a priority in future University decisions and plans. The community spirit between campuses is important for student experience, so I aim to encourage cross-campus virtual events, as well as bringing in a Charity of the Year. This will be voted for by students so that each campus is connected by a common cause. My biggest project is the launch of the first ever global society which will allow all ULaw students to be part of one society; so keep an eye out for this.
As ULaw continues to grow, the Association needs to grow with it. I am excited to see how the Association will expand in the next few years and where future presidents will take it.
I hope to one day become a family solicitor. I have yet to secure a training contract but I know I will get one. For now, I am happy to be working as the Association President and hope to make the most of this year.
My advice to students will always be to make time for yourself outside of your study. I know that this is easier said than done but I have experienced many burn outs in my time as a student and they did not help me achieve my goals. Setting yourself working hours and relaxation hours is essential for keeping on top of your studies while staying healthy. Whether you take the time to allow yourself a lie in once in a while, watch a film in the evenings or take part in a sports club, setting aside some time to relax will make the hours you spend studying more productive.
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