Aberdeen student wins ‘Student of the Year’ for languages campaign

Finn Abou El Magd (UoA)

UNIVERSITY of Aberdeen student Finn Abou El Magd has been named ‘Student of the Year’ by NUS Scotland for his role in the ‘Save UoA Languages’ campaign.

The campaign caused a media frenzy and saw a huge outpouring of support from the community when in October last year the University unexpectedly announced that its modern languages department was at the ‘end of the road’ and huge cuts had been planned. Supported by the Students’ Union, students and staff united to save jobs and degrees at the ancient institution – resulting in some incredible outcomes including the University rescinding ‘at risk’ letters to the entire modern languages department and dropping its plans to scrap languages to degree level entirely.

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24-year-old second year student Finn, who was instrumental in these successes, said: “I was taken aback to be nominated – let alone to learn that I’d won – I honestly can’t believe it! The languages campaign has been such a collective effort that it didn’t even occur to me that my role was something award-worthy, but I’m incredibly grateful to be recognised by NUS Scotland.

“I’d especially like to thank our VP for Education Rhiannon Ledwell who has been a passionate defender of our degrees and our students, her support and guidance was invaluable. I’d also like to thank the rest of the team at the Students’ Union for their support. There are so many people who helped make the campaign a success, too many to name, but I’d like to say a huge thank you to every single person who contributed. Our collective efforts held the University to account, preserving the quality of our education and ultimately protected people’s livelihoods.”

At the award ceremony in Stirling last week the judging panel had high praise for Finn’s contribution: “When Finn was elected as the lead school representative for the school of languages at Aberdeen, he did not expect having to fight for the very existence of language programmes in his school – but in his role, he rose to the challenge spectacularly.

“Together with the Union, students and staff, he worked tirelessly to save language learning at Aberdeen and has been instrumental to many of the successes of the campaign, which gained national prominence.”

When asked if he had a message for students who may wish to follow in his footsteps Finn added:

“It has been a privilege to see the university community come together; to see students and staff standing united, fighting for change, and winning. I hope this award can help to engage more students to get involved with student politics, to fight for what they care about.”

Visit www.ausa.org.uk/representation to find out more about student-led campaigning and initiatives, or email [email protected] to speak to a member of staff at the Students’ Union about how you can get involved.

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