Interview and analysis: Stephen Brown SRC VP Education candidate


Isabel Thomas
Stephen Brown’s manifesto centres around the use of technology in education and how the University can improve their services using technology. He does present new points in his manifesto, but he seems unclear on how he would implement them and how much use they would actually be to students.
Focusing on the points of his manifesto that centre around technology, Brown wants to implement live, anonymous lecture feedback across the University. He claims that in his experience in computing science this software has led to rapid improvements but he does not elaborate on what these exact improvements are. Arguably, anonymous lecture feedback could be open to abuse by students which Brown does not acknowledge. He also wants to protect students’ privacy rights during the rollout of Smart Campus which is a valid concern that a number of students will have. When asked how he would get students’ consent to this, Brown does provide a reasonable answer; by either asking students’ their consent when they enrol in MyCampus or through paper consent forms.
A central point in his manifesto is to limit the number of team projects that students are required to do to one per year, per school. He believes that team projects can provide an unfair representation of students grades. He acknowledges that team projects can have benefits such as promoting communication and helping develop teamwork skills. However, he does not elaborate on how he plans to get to staff to agree to this. This also contradicts the wider initiative of the University, which is to increase the number ofteam projects used in coursework, meaning staff will be even less inclined to implement this pledge.
On staff-student relations, Brown wants to make the late publicising of coursework grades a disciplinary issue. Along with this, he wants to implement a policy requiring staff to provide weekly updates to students giving an indication of how much coursework has been marked. Brown does not seem to acknowledge the difficulty in getting staff to agree to this policy and the actual usefulness that this policy would serve in reality.
The hot buzzwords of 24-hour study access, lecture recordings and earlier exam timetable releases make an appearance in his manifesto. Brown does acknowledge the progress his predecessors have made in regards to library access during the exam period and the ever increasing lectures that are being recorded. However, once again Brown does not give any information as to how he would implement these, other than simply carrying out what has already been put in motion by his predecessor.
Brown’s manifesto does present some innovative ideas in regards to use of technology in education however, he does not seem to know how he would put these ideas into action if he becomes Vice President for Education.