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Lifelong and Flexible Learners Officer

Hi! I'm Sandra Mitchell, your SRC Lifelong and Flexible Learners Officer for 2021/22.

[email protected]




Key responsibilities

  • Lead the Lifers subcommittee
  • Ensure non-traditional students, including mature, part-time, carer, and commuter students, are represented and have the same opportunities as other students within the University
  • Work with the University to promote St Andrews to non-traditional students
  • Work with other student groups to promote a more inclusive experience in the wider student community
  • Ensure Association policy takes non-traditional students into account
  • Sit on the SRC and Equal Opportunities subcommittee
  • Liaise with Student Services and other officers to advocate for non-traditional students

How my position affects you

I ensure there are events to welcome non-traditional students to the University, and attend events for new non-traditional students beginning their university journey.

Part of this role is to raise awareness of the fact that non-traditional students are represented within the Students' Association. As a member of the SRC, it is my job to ensure that your concerns are communicated to the Association and the University.

Before the creation of Lifers, there was little in the way of representation for students who don't fall into the traditional student category, so our voices were not always heard. Lifers aims to facilitate the integration of non-traditional students into all aspects of university life.

About me

I’m soon to be third year studying History, and I previously served as Lifers Officer in 2019/2020 before I took some time off.

I came back to education after a break of 18 years, in which time I raised my son and worked many jobs to pay the bills. As my son was nearing the end of high school and preparing to go to college, I felt this would be an ideal time for me to pursue my dreams of getting my degree, so I applied for college. I completed an access course at Dundee and Angus college through SWAP, and successfully achieved the grades I needed to take up my offer at the University of St Andrews, my dream University! I am also the first person in my family to attend university.

My manifesto pledges

I want to reinstate committee meetings that are open to anyone wishing to attend who wish to participate in the committee, raise any concerns or bring feedback. This year has called for the use of Teams, Zoom and other online platforms to keep people connected, and I think this has been especially invaluable for Lifers.

Family, caring responsibilities, employment, and commuting has often proved to be an obstacle when it comes to taking part and engaging with the wider student community. Going forward I think Teams could be an incredible resource to help people get involved, and I want to implement a blended format in the future when in-person activities return, which will allow people to join the Lifers community in whatever form suits them best.

I know non-traditional students have many demands on our time, so as well as in-person events, I aim to make use of online technologies to enable new kinds of social events, taking a blended approach to as many Lifers social events as possible.

I aim to continue the tradition of collaborating with other subcommittees and societies to host events. I’m also keen to hold a series of events involving talks with staff and alumni who took non-traditional routes through the University.

I know how challenging and sometimes daunting university can be as a non-traditional student, and I appreciated the guidance and support of more experienced students I joined the University. I aim to revive the mentor scheme that I know many others found invaluable.

Now more than ever, it is crucial this option is available. The opportunity to be paired with someone who has similar interests and the same area of study is a precious resource, and the wealth of knowledge gained can give so much confidence to people.

I will continue the work that has already been done to set up a student parent and carer support network, and create an online resource with advice and sources of help for the kinds of issues non-traditional students frequently face.

Advice and support can be difficult to discover, so I will compile a list of resources that I know non-traditional students have found helpful in enabling them to continue their studies.

I intend to create a dedicated Lifers Teams channel, enabling people to pop in and out as it suits them, to find and offer peer support within the community.

I will set up weekly office hours for anyone to drop into, if they wish to raise a concern or just have a private chat.

I want to work with the Careers Centre to organise CV and LinkedIn workshops geared towards Lifers, who tend to have a bit more work experience than the average student.

It can be difficult to trim your CV down to the most relevant experience, or explain gaps in a CV, and knowing how to navigate LinkedIn can be a daunting experience.

Another thing that can often be difficult to access is internships and academic mentorships suitable for non-traditional students.

Want my job?

This position is elected in March each year. It's a voluntary position taking 5-10 hours per week, from April to March. Any matriculated student is eligible to stand for election, unless graduating.

If you're considering this role, get in touch with me or my line manager (DoWell) to ask any questions.

  • Understanding of the issues that face non-traditional students
  • Adaptable and approachable
  • Existing connections with the non-traditional student community
  • Willingness to help others
  • Organised, with good time management

Hours spent working on this role count towards a Volunteering Award, which is listed on your academic transcript.

Previous holders

Note that the position title was "Member for Mature Students" until 2016/17, and "Member for Age Equality" until 2018/19.

Year Name Resources
2021/22 Sandra Mitchell
2020/21 Jenny Menday
2019/20 Sandra Mitchell
2018/19 Sarah Ramage
2017/18 Lorraine Callaghan
2015/16 Aysha Marty
2011/12 Elizabeth Micklethwait