Leading the way
Meet the leaders of the General Council and Students' Association.
Professor Ann Smyth, Secretary of the General Council, graduated in psychology from Edinburgh in 1970 before adding an MPhil and a PhD from the University to her CV. Eleri Connick, 2018/19 Edinburgh University Students’ Association President, gained her degree in philosophy in 2018.
As leaders of these vital University bodies, they ensure that the views of students and graduates are represented. Here Ann and Eleri share their passion for their roles and the benefits of getting involved with the University.
What drew you to your respective roles?
Ann: I had served for eight years as a General Council Assessor on Court and more recently on the steering group tasked with reviewing the Scottish Code of Higher Education Governance, so I felt I had a broad understanding of the University and its governance and some insight into how the General Council could be helpful at a time of change in the sector.
Eleri: I had the most amazing year as Vice-President of the Sports Union. I wanted to take this passion and use it on a bigger scale. I absolutely love the University because it has given me so many incredible opportunities and I wanted to push a manifesto that ensured all students get to make the most of their time here.
Are there any similarities between the two bodies?
Ann: I think the constituencies for both the Students’ Association and the General Council have grown enormously. In a world with demands competing ever faster for people’s attention and time, we both face a challenge in communicating effectively with our members and encouraging them to engage actively in our organisations and their activities, including elections.
Eleri: Yes, 100 per cent! Both bodies take representation seriously and it’s so exciting that we both get to sit on University Court and ensure that what our members are saying is being heard at the highest University committee. It will be exciting to see how many of the student reps of 2018/19 move on to sit on the General Council in the next few years.
What are the benefits of being involved more deeply with the University?
Ann: I enormously value the insight into the range of innovative work in which the University is involved, whether in its thinking about delivering world-class higher education to equip people for the 21st century, its cutting-edge research or its commercialisation activities. Of course, there is a particular joy in the opportunities for engagement with students. They give a tremendous sense of pride by association, and hope for the future of our troubled world.
Eleri: I know I’m extremely lucky to be representing the students at this institution and it is the students’ incredible stories that keep me energised. This role really does give you the power to make seriously big changes for students and that’s incredibly rewarding.
Find out more about the work of the General Council and the Edinburgh University Students’ Association.