Interviews

"Students can and must use their voice to make improvements or changes"

 Francisca Moya

Foto: UOC

30/09/2020
Marian Antn
Francisca Moya, Student Council coordinator

 

Do you know what our students' main concerns during the pandemic were? We spoke to the coordinator of the Student Council to learn about their experiences over the past semester and to find out how they plan to tackle the upcoming academic year. With a diploma in Tourism, a degree in Marketing and Market Research, and a master's degree in International Trade and Marketing Strategies, Francisca Moya has fourteen years of professional experience in foreign trade and international marketing and promotional strategies. She is currently CEO and co-founder of Atlas Marketing Studio and the start-up NEO. 

This last semester has been one of the most exceptional ever due to COVID-19. What was the Student Council's experience of it? 

There were both concerns and challenges. Along with the other students, our main concerns were the changes in the assessment system, given that nobody could physically attend the final tests; the economic measures that would apply (there was a worry that some students would not be able to continue their studies); and how to deal with the internships, because in many companies these have to be done in person. Therefore our main challenge was to ensure the best possible coordination between the students and the University in order to get answers to their concerns as swiftly as possible, helping to give the students greater peace of mind at such an uncertain time.

And how did you address these issues?

With regard to how the final examinations were going to be held, the UOC designed a system that, to a large extent, allowed students to sit their exams online, and in some cases they managed to extend the dates of the exams. With the second issue, concerning new enrolments and how to deal with them, the University handled this aspect on a one-on-one basis with whoever had a problem in this respect, and I can confirm that all these queries were resolved in the shortest possible time. With regard to the internship issue, we also took all the actions necessary to relocate the people who could not continue in their centres as normal, and solutions are being found for the students who have to start their internships this semester.

With regard to tests having to be held online, how did the student community react to this?

We received around one thousand contacts from our student community (which includes queries, suggestions, viewpoints, and complaints). As at any time of uncertainty, we had to try to be supportive to students with solutions for concerns such as finding a work-life balance and being more flexible when it came to examination times. 

At the same time, some students were happy to do their tests online while others really wanted to sit them in person, but the key thing was the health and safety of all the students and all the other people at the University. For this reason, the fairest and most considerate solution was to hold the highest possible number of tests online and adapt other courses to continuous assessment processes. We should not forget that this University has certain quality and accreditation standards that must be upheld for the optimum educational processes, so a specific platform was set up to fulfil all these requirements for holding the final tests, and the results were very satisfactory. 

You were deputy coordinator until the previous coordinator resigned, and you are now in the position of greatest responsibility. How did this change come about? 

The Student Council started out with 50 members with a three-year mandate, as a completely altruistic service. It's quite normal that over this period people leave for different reasons: they finish their course, a change of job, personal responsibilities, etc. There are countless reasons for members to relinquish their positions. That's why when the former coordinator Mont Romans resigned, I decided to apply as I had been the deputy coordinator up to that point. At the electoral process I was voted in by my colleagues on the Council and hence took on the job. Mont Romans is still an active member of the Council and has done a fantastic job. The handover between us was very easy, because as I had been her deputy up to that point, I was there to support her in whatever she needed. 

How is everything organized?

There's a lot of responsibility in any of the positions. We have several working groups on different issues: equality, transparency, student advocacy, communications, internal and external representation… The work is very evenly distributed between the members of the Council and we're pretty proactive in each area. We hold two annual meetings and another four of the Standing Committee, at which we try to set objectives and lines of action for each group to ensure that everything runs in the most streamlined way possible. 

Did the previous coordinator give you any particular advice?

A whole lot and more! I learned everything I know from her and it was a real pleasure to work alongside her.

Do you remember the initial reasons that led you to put yourself forward at the Student Council elections? What did you think it would be like?

I've always enjoyed being a representative – I suppose it's a kind of vocation: I've been a committee member many times and I've represented other stakeholders in organizations. When I saw the call, I didn't hesitate to put my name forward. I envisaged it as being similar but not the same. The truth is that this representation is not exactly a walk in the park. I knew and expected that it would involve responsibility and hard work, but the fact is that it's a job in itself, not just for me as coordinator but for every active member of the Council. There are a lot of meetings, but that's not the really important thing – the most important thing is the day-to-day work by all the members to ensure that the issues we deal with end up having a positive impact for the students. 

To date, what is the thing you're most proud of about the current Student Council?

Without a doubt, the involvement of its members: it's a very active and receptive Council, there are all kinds of people involved and it's very rewarding for everyone. In our last few sessions we have learned to talk and listen more and better, to understand each other more, and to take better decisions. The thing I'm most proud of is the members and the efforts we've made in managing processes to improve day-to-day work and decision-making.

As coordinator, what would you like to improve in the next few months?

Internally, I'd love to consolidate the Working Groups system and revitalize the Council to provide a level of continuity in the future. Externally, our main challenge is communications between the Council and the students, which I would really love to improve a great deal. Obviously I also want to continue advocating students' rights and serving as their mouthpiece with the University when adverse situations arise.

What role do you think the students should play?

Students can and must use their voice to make improvements or changes; to make us better people, to evolve and progress along with the system. It's among the students themselves that problems are detected, where situations can be improved, and where a united voice can be raised with the University or the university system. The role of the student community is to communicate and speak whenever necessary about issues that need to be changed, reinvented or created so we can continue to improve. The student community should also contribute value as well as demanding it whenever necessary.