Altair Seel is a third year student studying Heritage and Toursim and is running for positon of Non-Traditional Student’s officer.
He is the secretary of the Stirling Student’s Tenants Union and he is on the committee for the co-operative society.
Seel hopes to use his experience from these roles to represent not just Forth Valley students but all non-traditional students at university. Brig‘s news editor Harry Williamson interviewed Altair about his campaign and his plans if elected.
What are your main reasons for running for this position?
“Well, at the moment I feel that the integration process between Forth Valley College and the university is pretty inadequate.”
“They prepare you to a certain extent but it doesn’t prepare you enough necessarily. And there is support out there but most of it is support you have to go after and find. It’s not support you’re told about.”
How, if you were elected as non-traditional students officer, would you seek to rectify that problem?
“I would want to work closely with Forth Valley college because I have links with the president’s student association and I would also want to see if it was possible to add in more support where possible.”
Do you have any specific action that you know you would take in detail to fix this problem when you get in?
” It’s not a single thing, it’s a problem that can’t necessarily be rectified with a single action but more a series of actions. Getting students more involved with the union and society’s at the uni and union democracy.”
That’s only one group in the broad range that is non-traditional students – so what would you do in other aspects such as student work experience, mature students or even care experience students? This is something your opponent (Jaimie McDiarmid) has brought up in their manifesto.
“Well, with mature students I want to reach out to, I think it’s a new society, the mature student’s society. I want to work with them to address issues that mature students face. Specifically with care experience students, I want to reach out to them and see what the consistent threads are that they face, what problem they face and come up with solutions directed by those issues.”
It says here that you’re on the committee of the co-operative society and the tenants union?
“Yes, I’m the secretary of the tenants union”
In what ways do you think that experience will come in handy if elected?
“I think – more organisational skills and I think it clearly shows that I care for more than just the educational attainment of students.”
“I would want to work closely with the tenants union to help non-traditional students regarding housing. That includes mature students and integrated degree students. For integrated degree programmes, for their first year, they get dumped in Union Street, which has a lot of different problems. For instance, its not an accessible accommodation and there’s a lot wrong with Union Street. There certainly was when I was there and I doubt that’s changed.”
And do you think that your experience in terms of student housing would work with care experience students who are often estranged from their families?
“Yeah, because that is also an important issue. Every type of student has issues with housing and the current system- its wholly inadequate. SASS is not enough for a lot of rents in uni accommodation. It’s not been raised in a few years and private rents are also above the basic level of SASS. This does then force a lot of students into work which adds extra pressure on them on top of their load of schoolwork and social life. That is not an acceptable situation at the moment. Student finance should cover this, but it doesn’t.”
How would you take steps to address the mental health needs of not only care experience but also non-traditional students overall?
“The mental health issue is a huge issue for everyone. This is one of those issues that no one can deny the significance of. To address it I would, where possible, want to put pressure on the university to provide better care to cut down on mental health waiting lists. The fact that there are students who do have to wait several months to see a councillor is wholly inadequate.”
“Vote Altair Seel to seal a better deal!”