Academic Officer Candidate:

Matt "The Beard" Johnstone


Believe in the Beard


  • Put learning first - make the University work for us, not to benefit its own bank balance
  • Stand up for our rights during strikes - seek to minimise the damage to our education
  • Place fairness at the heart of everything I do - from ensuring equity of provision to diversifying the curriculum

  • Manifesto

    Those three points tell you what I stand for. Here’s what they mean in practice:

    Attendance monitoring.

    Holding the University to account on the shambolic roll-out of attendance monitoring - guarding students from the flaws of the current app, and seeking changes to the existing policy to recognise that students are adults, not schoolchildren.

    Equity of provision.

    Tackling unfair hidden costs to level the playing field, believing that nobody should incur extra expenses to fully participate in their degree - starting with travel costs for students at King’s Manor, as part of a radical rethink of what widening participation truly means.


    Improving employability and careers provision, both on- and off-campus - working with local public and private organisations to identify exciting new avenues for part-time work, and seeking to employ more student staff at YUSU, as part of a mutually beneficial partnership.


    Being proactive, not reactive, when dealing with strikes - engaging with UCU and the University as soon a strike ballot is called to ensure your interests are protected, equipping you with the tools to manage the disruption, and demanding any withheld pay is invested to benefit students affected by the strike.

    Study space.

    Driving forward efforts to improve study space on campus - making smarter use of underutilised existing spaces, such as dining areas, and opposing reckless expansion plans that fail to consider space implications.


    Continuing to diversify the curriculum through empowering students and breaking down barriers - providing resources to students to lead their own projects and integrating lived experience into the curriculum.


    Reviewing and revamping academic support processes - from fighting for improvements to the Exceptional Circumstances procedure to building a compassionate Leave of Absence procedure that puts students first.


    Working with the Community and Wellbeing Officer to ensure the new departmental wellbeing structure is a success, and that students receive more appropriate help throughout their studies.


    Utilising technology to improve everybody’s experience at York - bringing in accessible e-readers in the library to help reduce levels of printing, and seeking to introduce fast feedback facilities for both the University and the Union.


    Using my voice to stand up for York’s place in the global community - lobbying for continued membership of Erasmus both here and on the national stage, and standing up for the rights of International Students, focusing on ensuring they pay a fair price for tuition.

    Together we can make these ideas a reality. You just have to #BelieveInTheBeard