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Portrait Photo of Katie MacLeod

Portrait Photo of Ming Yin

Ben Laurense, Katie MacLeod and Ming Yin

Winners, Academic / College Representative

Ben Laurense, Katie MacLeod and Ming Yin were nominated jointly for their work as student representatives, Ben and Ming on the Faculty Board of Mathematics, and Katie on the Council of the School of Physical Sciences.


Such roles are always vitally important, and we have been fortunate in Mathematics to have had some outstanding student representatives serving on these and other Faculty Committees. Different challenges arise in different years, however, and none of us could have anticipated the scale of the challenge that we would face with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Holding examinations online that are fair and rigorous poses particular difficulties for Mathematics. There were already grave misgivings amongst lecturers and examiners as to how this would work, but the undergraduate students took a number of initiatives that helped reveal to us exactly how fundamental these difficulties were, and how important it was to find a solution in which students could have confidence.

Some key concerns were first brought to our attention in an open letter... but this was quickly followed by a remarkably thorough survey involving responses by more than 636 students (more than 85% of all undergraduates). The "Undergraduates Maths Examinations Survey Report" was comprehensive in scope, ranging from possible exam formats to issues of access for students with disabilities or those working in challenging home circumstances. The results were analysed by the students themselves with impressive speed, and then summarised in a document that provided a coherent and lucid overview of a range of complex issues. This had a major influence on the stance taken by the Faculty and played no small part in helping us shape and agree arrangements with the University.

Ben, Ming and Katie would be the first to acknowledge that the initiatives described above were collective efforts, involving many students. Nevertheless, they played a pivotal role in coordinating the survey, and they have continued to work tirelessly by maintaining constructive dialogues with more senior members of the Faculty and conveying information back to students. I think that the student body as a whole would also be able to regard an award to these three as an award to every one of their number who raised questions, made suggestions, and helped to find the best way forward for all.


Ben Laurense (Trinity College), Katie MacLeod (Emmanuel College) and Ming Yin (Trinity College) are third- and second-year Undergraduates (2019-20) reading Mathematics.

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