This week LS interviewed Toni Pearce, President of the NUS about the most important issues affecting students across the country.
How did you feel about the recent lecturers’ strike?
I think a really important thing to say is that it wasn’t just lecturers. The three unions are representing some of the lowest paid workers in our university. I think it’s reasonable to go on strike because you see the greatest real terms pay cut since the war. I was really supportive of that day of action and I still am. What I want to see is a really speedy resolution, to initiate a fair deal and fair pay. The impact on students is obviously something that we want to be as short as possible.
Why did you fail your A Levels?
I have recently been diagnosed with hyper-mobility syndrome, which I had when I was 16. This means that my joints dislocate a lot. I had a lot of operations in my first year at college. I was in and out of hospital and on morphine the whole time, so I found it nearly impossible to focus on my exams. I failed my first year, but I went back and did two more years, I re-sat my exams and ended up with two A’s and a B.
How do you feel about the exam process in terms of pressure on students?
I wouldn’t have got any A Levels if I was studying now. A qualification should be about testing what you can do in life, not what you can do on one day. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has banned re-sits of A-Levels and GCSEs. Yet he didn’t pass his driving test until his seventh try, so if you can do that when you’ve literally got people’s lives in your hands, why can’t you do that with Maths?
It’s disgusting and wrong. I think that ‘lad culture’ believes rape is an ok thing to joke about. In fact, we know that one in seven female students will experience sexual harassment or rape while they’re at University. As if there aren’t better things in the world to laugh about!
I genuinely think that feminism is coming back in a big way and I think that’s
exciting because people take action and say we’re not going to take this shit anymore.