24/04/2012 07:16 BST | Updated 24/04/2012 07:29 BST

NUS Officer Elections 2012: How Will Candidates Represent The Diverse Student Population?

For the first time ever, candidates running for the National Union of Students positions have been asked how they intend to represent an increasingly diverse student population.

The decision to pose four questions to the potential officers, who will be voted in at the National Conference of the NUS, was made after concerns were raised over the lack of representation for those not fitting the "traditional" student mould.

Traditionally officers have been, unintentionally or not, biased towards only representing the needs of a certain type of students: undergraduates aged 18 to 25.

But, as institutions are rapidly becoming more diverse, three NUS campaigns have emerged: international students, postgraduate students and mature and part-time students.

The Huffington Post UK have partnered up with the NUS to exclusively host some of the candidates' responses to the four questions which asked:

  • What experience have you had in the past with these groups of students?
  • How do you intend to involve the sections in the mainstream of NUS' political agenda?
  • How would you ensure the work of your zone takes non-traditional learners into account?
  • What will you do to more specifically target and improve the lives of these students and include it into your work next year?

Daniel Stevens, a national executive council member for the NUS, pushed for the questions to be introduced after 90 officers signed a petition asking why only two of 25 candidates mentioned international students.

"It's great to see it finally in place," Stevens said. "It is one of the biggest issues within the student movement and we have had a good response so far."

Here are just some of the candidates and how they pledge to improve the representation of diverse and "non-traditional" students:

Vicki Baars, currently NUS LGBT officer, is standing for NUS vice president union development.

Rachel Wenstone, running to be on the NUS national executive council and a postgraduate student.

Peter Mercer, hoping to be elected NUS vice-president (welfare)

Thomas Alexander Hollick, running for vice president of union development.

A full list of the candidates can be viewed on the NUS election site.

The conference, which runs from 24 to 26 April, will see around 800 delegates, representing their student unions, vote in next year's officers - who will be responsible for setting the union's policy.

Who do you want to see in office?

Follow the debate: #nusnc12