Khaliun Batbayar, a second-year business law undergraduate, is running for International Officer with the aim of giving a voice to the university’s diverse international community.
The role of International Volunteer Officer is to identify and organise campaigns to raise awareness of the relevant issues affecting international students. This task is familiar to Batbayar through their work in encouraging equality and diversity within Quadball in the UK.
“Most international players we have are students from universities. It feels really great to listen to them and say: ‘We listen to you and we will create what you need!’ It’s a little bit sad that not a lot of universities have those projects available.”
A Personal Motivation
Batbayar’s inspiration to run for International Officer came from difficult circumstances. In September 2022, they found themselves back in Mongolia as the University failed to give her CAS documents to support her visa.
“I think I realised that it’s a little ridiculous how the University doesn’t realise the importance of CAS in the visa application,” they said.
“I’m not blaming anyone particularly, but it was a very awful experience. I realised I can’t do anything by sitting. I want to have that platform so if students are having that problem they can come and fix it.”
Batbayar’s experiences of studying and living at the university also influenced their decision to run for the role.
They said: “When I first applied for the university, a lot of it was because the university advertises itself to international schools how international the campus is.”
“A lot of the photos you see on the website are always international students, they’re always very diverse but when you actually get here that’s not what you see. You don’t see the photos. I don’t see any attempts from the University to create these spaces for international students.”
A Manifesto Designed to Raise Awareness
Key to Batbayar’s ambitions in their potential role is to educate on the vast number of different cultures which international students bring to the university.
They intend to do this primarily through the creation of a cultural festival. The festival will simultaneously act as an introduction for international students to events such as the Freshers’ fayre.
“Freshers’ fayre is big and you have all these freshers. It’s hard to make international students feel as welcome as the people who already know what’s happening.
“You’d have stalls for countries and students from those countries can decorate their stall and then talk to people about their culture.”
Batbayar also wants to create a space where international students can raise awareness of issues which may affect them or their countries. Creating this space will also educate students at the university on global concerns which may not be covered in the news.
Experience in Similar Roles
For Batbayar, partaking in the role of International Officer will not be so daunting thanks to their impressive levels of experience in similar roles.
They volunteer for the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the governing body of Quadball in the UK, whilst also serving as president of the university’s Pole Fitness Club. They believe this experience will serve them well when representing international students through the Students’ Union.
“You can write from your own society page but that can get buried down. When you’re representing the Union that gives you more authority and reach to other people, that’s why I want this position,” they said.
“Just by talking and listening to people you can make them feel heard and included. The idea that you are trying and listening and you’re hearing and you’re making sure what you heard is then being passed on to people. That itself is what I think the International Officer is.”
“Every community I’m involved in, I want to make sure there’s fairness.”
When asking Batbayar why students should vote for them when voting opens on February 28, they again emphasised their commitment to bringing awareness to issues of diversity.
They said: “I’m really, really really passionate about this, about having representation.
“I already do this stuff, in every community I’m involved in, I want to make sure there’s fairness, there’s inclusion and we’re all feeling happy! I’m not doing this for a CV or another qualification, I genuinely want to make this place happier to be in and more diverse!”
Voting opens Tuesday, February 28 at 10am and closes Thursday, March 2 at 5pm.
Featured Image Credit: Khaliun Batbayar