Huffington Post reports that MPs have backed the National Union of Students (NUS) president to replace Toby Young on the new universities regulator, after the journalist and free schools campaigner stood down amid a storm of controversy.
Shakira Martin, a 29-year-old single mother from a working class family, applied to sit on the board of the Office for Students (OfS) but was unsuccessful.
After Young, 54, quit on Tuesday and apologised for sexist and other offensive tweets and writings that caused outrage, Martin again put herself forward for the role: @ShakiraSweet1 So i have seen that Toby Young has resigned..Now can i have my seat on the board please?
Labour MPs Wes Streeting and Jess Phillips supported Martin to take Young’s place on the OfS. Streeting said her appointment would be “no better antidote” to the controversy over Young.
Martin grew up with eight siblings and left home at 16 to escape drug abuse by a close family member. The mother-of-two left school with just one GCSE – a B grade in RE – and dropped out of sixth form college, but was motivated to return to studying after the practice manager at the doctor’s surgery where she worked at began harassing her.
In May, Martin told BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour: “Against all the odds, I should have been in jail or dead.” She said: “You can’t choose the life you are born into but it’s about how you use those experiences to better yourself as a person.”
She said OfS board was “not representative of the higher education sector”. The board has 15 people but just one student representative, an engineering student at The University of Surrey.
The OfS will be advised by a student panel that will include Martin but she has said the NUS needs a place on the board to be “the voice of students”.
Martin said the board’s make up “does little to win the confidence of the sector, or the students in whose interests the body purports to operate”.
A Department for Education spokesman told HuffPost UK that a decision on whether to replace Young will “be taken in due course”.
Do you think Shakira Martin should be on the board? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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