Tyne Coast College’s new Students’ Union Executive has met for the first time, delivering a pledge to put fresh wind in its sails by becoming ever more influential cross-campus.
The six-strong body believes the time is right to play an increasingly important part in the life of the college and its thousands of students from across the North East.
The union is headed by President Matthew Laidler, 17, a second year Level 3 manufacturing engineering student at South Tyneside College. Vice-President is Oliver Keogh, 16, who studying classical civilisations, history and English language at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College.
The union’s other members are Evan Thompson, 16, who is sitting English literature, English language and classical civilisations, Tanya Barrass, 30, who is studying an Access to HE health programme, both at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet) Level 1 plumbing student Connor Wright, 16, and Ahmed Alshamsi, 22, a maritime cadet from the United Arab Emirates who is studying at South Shields Marine School.
The cross-campus union was founded in 2017 when South Tyneside College and TyneMet merged to form Tyne Coast College. The new college’s brands include TyneMet, South Tyneside College, Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, and South Shields Marine School, with previously had their own Students’ Union.
At its first meeting, the union decided to examine the implementation of a no smoking initiative and the holding of Easter markets at Tyne Coast College’s main campuses.
Matthew, who held a different position on the inaugural Tyne Coast College Executive, said: “Last year saw the first Tyne Coast College Students’ Union, and perhaps it didn’t get as much done as could have been the case.
“This year, there is an excellent Executive whose members have come up with some really positive ideas as to how to improve the role of the union and the life of our students.
“We’ve only had one full meeting, but I was very impressed at how keen everyone contributed ideas and played their part.
“It is clear that large numbers of the college’s students smoke, so the union thinks it appropriate to try to deliver a good health message, but we have lots of other good ideas too.
“In my own role, I also feel a lot more experienced due to having been involved with the union last year.”
Added Matthew, who studies at South Tyneside College: “On a personal note, I’m very proud to have been elected President of the Students’ Union.
“I think I got the vote of confidence in large part because of how well I my pitched my ideas and how they were received by students. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.
“I feel a certain weight of expectation but I know that I have the support of Tyne Coast College’s leaders and can turn to them for advice and support whenever I may need it.”
Audrey Kingham, Principal of TyneMet, said: “In Matthew, the new Students’ Union Executive has an intelligent President who I am sure will lead by example.
“The Executive is made up of strong characters who are rich in positive ideas about how to progress the union’s work and enhance the college experience for all our learners.
“A college’s Students’ Union should be a force for good, and I believe this will very much be the case with that voted in to represent Tyne Coast College learners this year.
“Collectively, the Executive has made a solid start to its work, and individually, all its members have contributed to how it could develop.”
The Students’ Union can be contacted via Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org