Imperial College London

Meet Hayley Wong, President of Imperial College Union

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young woman standing outside in front of red brick building

Hayley Wong is the new president of Imperial’s students’ union.

Heading up the new team of elected officer trustees, Hayley Wong took over the presidency of Imperial College Union on 1 August 2022. Below, we meet Hayley and hear her reflections on her time at Imperial so far and her priorities for her time as president.  

What made you want to be president of Imperial College Union?  

I had held other union roles previously and running for president felt like the best way to have the widest positive impact on students.  

When I first started my aeronautical engineering degree, I was much less outgoing. I ran to be the academic rep for my year group in my first week, which was putting myself outside my comfort zone. But I found I really enjoyed it. 

In my second year I was Vice-President of the City and Guilds College Union (CGCU), the constituent union for engineering students. And in third year I became the President of the CGCU. I was in this role when COVID hit, and I spent a lot of time running initiatives for students during the pandemic. Being in that role during COVID was extremely challenging but it really allowed me to develop a lot of skills, and in fourth year I decided to become the CGCU President again. 

What are your priorities for your term as president? 

There are three main priorities that I'd highlight. Firstly, I want to connect with the wider student union network at other universities so we can learn from each other and have a stronger voice together on issues that affect students – from the cost of living crisis to mental health.  

Secondly, I want to review the constituent union model, which is unique to Imperial. I want to look at how unions like the CGCU fit into the overall representation model of the students’ union at Imperial, and implement concrete support for the constituent unions. 

Thirdly, I want to review the complaints and disciplinary policies and procedures of both the Union and the College. I want to make the processes and results more transparent and streamlined, and make sure students receive regular communications so they know what is happening with their case.  

How would you recommend students get involved in shaping their learning experience? 

Run for a rep role! We have over 400 representation roles available. If you are a year, departmental or faculty rep, you are part of committees for your area and you are empowered to work with staff to make positive changes for your fellow students. We have our autumn elections coming up in October and I highly recommend running. You will develop your own skills, as well as advocating for your cohort’s educational experience.  

What are your top three favourite things about Imperial? 

Top of the list has to be the people at Imperial. When I first joined in first year, it blew my mind how diverse the community is here – people come to Imperial from different backgrounds, different countries, and with different experiences.  

Then I would say location – I love London. There's everything here, and you can pop over to one of the museums at lunch.  

And finally, the extracurricular activities. We have over 380 clubs and societies and there are so many opportunities to try new things. There are clubs dedicated to things I’d never heard of before I came to Imperial! If you like it, there’s probably a club for it – and if there isn’t, we can help you start one.  

What are three things Imperial could improve on? 

The first thing I'd mention is feedback on academic assessment, whether that’s coursework or exams. The marking process is not transparent, and a lot of the time students don’t receive any feedback. If they do, it’s often not detailed enough to be useful. And there’s no parity between departments in terms of the timing and level of feedback – students are having very different experiences.  

Secondly, I'd like to see a strategy in place for student mental health at Imperial, and sufficient mental health provision.  

Thirdly, I think Imperial’s funding model should be aligned with the values of students and the Imperial community – for example, divesting from fossil fuel companies. I would like to work with the College on a strategy for sustainability and partnerships that matches these values.  

As co-chair of the Imperial Together Action Group, you will be working with Imperial staff on building a more positive and inclusive culture at Imperial. What actions would you like the Group to achieve over the next year? 

When I first came to Imperial I found like-minded people very fast, and I felt a sense of belonging quite quickly. I would like the same experience for every student coming to Imperial.  

I'd also like to see students considered front and centre when decisions are being made that affect them, and for senior staff to have a culture of talking to students on the ground. A culture of valuing staff and students will make things better for everyone – if staff feel valued they feel motivated to create a better environment in their area, and that’s better for students. 

Reporter

Elizabeth Nixon

Elizabeth Nixon
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6699
Email: e.nixon@imperial.ac.uk

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