Until June 2010 I was the National President of the National Union of Students (NUS) – the 53rd holder of that office. I was twice elected as President of NUS after completing two terms as NUS’ Vice President for Education and a year on the NUS National Executive Committee, during which time I served as NUS’ liaison with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) with responsibility for teacher education. Throughout my time in NUS I stood for election as a Labour Students candidate and served as a member of the Labour Students’ National Committee for four years.
My achievements at NUS included repositioning the student movement on the issue of higher education funding to influence the debate surrounding the Browne Review, publishing a compelling critique of the variable tuition fees model, as well as a fully costed alternative for a progressive graduate contribution based on earnings. I also saw through to completition wide ranging reforms to NUS’ governance and democracy, pioneered by my predecessor and led a successful, award winning campaign against the introduction of graduate account charges by HSBC. The campaign has been cited in publications across the globe as the first example of new media being used successfully to change the behaviour of a multinational corporation, most notably by Clay Shirky in his international bestseller ‘Here comes Everybody: the power of organising without organisations’.
I have a strong interest in education policy, particularly higher education and social mobility, and have served on a number of national sector committees. I was a non-exectuive director of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the Higher Education Academy and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. I was also a member of the HE Ambassdadors sub-group of the Prime Minister’s National Council for Educational Excellence, established by the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. I also served as a member Government’s Youth Citizenship Commission, which reported to the Prime Minister in Spring 2009.
Before joining NUS full time I spent a year working for Progress after graduating from Selwyn College, Cambridge, where I read History, before being elected to serve as President of Cambridge University Students’ Union for a year.
I grew up in Stepney in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and attended St Peter’s Primary School in Wapping and Westminster City School in Victoria. I have lived in the East End of London my whole life.
I now work as Chief Executive of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, an educational charity that supports disadvantaged students from the FE and adult education sectors to access higher education and the professions.
All posts here reflect my own opinions and are not necessarily those of any of the organisations I support or work for.
The photograph used here was taken by Dan McCurry, who came and took photos on my by-election trail. Highly recommend you consider using his considerable skills: www.danmccurry.co.uk