Few things in life are dearer than education. I have travelled thousands of miles through checkpoints and armed guards to receive education in Exeter. Since then, I have toured the world, giving talks in some 87 universities, to raise awareness about life in war-torn areas, aiming to change our society for the better and help to spread justice and fairness everywhere.
I firmly believe students unions can change lives. First-hand experience has taught me that student representatives working as a team can have a transformative impact. Now that I am in Exeter, I want to advocate for better postgraduate research students’ experience.
Taking up the role of PGR representative ultimately means that I can continue to help provide opportunities for people of all backgrounds to use their education as a foundation for self-development and better representation, on local and national level, benefiting society in general.
- Developing a PGR Hub
- PGR Teaching + PGR Funding
- Social Inclusion
- Study Space & Library Resource
- Better University & Guild Support all the time, including the Vacation Period, & Tailored Careers Service
1- Developing a PGR Hub:
- Though the PGR proportion in Exeter is large, there is no sense of community for us in the Guild or the University. This community can be achieved through better provision of socials and with an identifiable Postgraduate brand, in order to foster a sense of belonging. It is important to include mature undergraduates, such as fourth years and finalists who often feel closer to a Postgraduate lifestyle, and postgraduates who are normally excluded from central campus as in the case of the School of Education.
- I will lobby the University for an improved central calendar of events and conferences for easy filtering and notification. I will work on a regular programme of activities: events, socials, trips, courses, welfare drop-in, and more, to establish networking between all PGR students and ensure they have the most productive experience.
- I will plan PGR-led welcome event(s) during Freshers Week and at the end of each semester to integrate the postgraduate community into the Guild body from the first day.
2- PGR Teaching + PGR Funding
- As a postgraduate teaching assistant myself, it is fair to say that short term contracts and low-pay serve to undervalue PGR students that teach. I will fight to make sure that PGR teachers are paid fairly and not used as cheap labour by departments.
- I will lobby the University to improve support, pay and conditions to make sure PGR teachers are paid fairly for the work they do.
- I pledge to hold regular drop-in sessions for PGR teachers to ensure all their concerns are taken into consideration and brought before the University and the Guild.
- I will work to improve PGR teaching conditions – this doesn’t only improve university life for PGRs but also helps in improving the life of undergraduates by improving the quality of teaching they receive.
- High fees and a lack of funding are restricting access to essential PGR qualifications.
- I will work with the University and the National Union of Students to establish a national government loan system and makes it available for anyone in need.
- I will lobby the University to increase its investments in PGR funding – more scholarships and bursaries.
3- Social Inclusion
- PGR students have varied timetables, different from their undergraduate colleagues. We mostly stay on campus, even during the vacation period.
- The Guild provides us with little support during the vacation time.
- Weekly coffee drop-ins should happen during vacations, to ensure that the PGR voices are still heard when the Guild is shut.
- Most Postgraduates have longer working hours, closer to 9-5. I will push for more events that start nearer to 6pm that accommodate our needs.
- I will lobby for events tailored to suit student parents who are currently excluded from Union events.
- Building on current inter-departmental sports, I will push for more Postgraduate specific events and a Postgraduate sports Committee.
4- Study Space & Library Resource
- There is not enough availability of core texts, short-loan books and e-journals in the library. I pledge to lobby the University to increase funding for the library and use the SSLC (Student Staff Liaison Committee) system to make the relevant library staff aware of the demand.
- The library is currently not being utilised in the best way. It could be used for more inter-departmental networking and symposiums, which bring students together to collaborate and share research ideas.
- I want to achieve the right balance between public and private study.
- I will lobby the University to build or provide a PG Hub, open at all times. This should include a study space and a space for student-led conferences, symposiums and events.
- Beyond availability, there is a serious shortage of core textbooks in the library – I will lobby the University to have these books in the Hub roofs.
- The Hub will be more of a space for shared working where students study, have their lunch together, and enjoy the communal working space.
5- Better University & Guild Support all the time, including the Vacation Period, & Tailored Careers Service
- The current Careers Services do not do enough to address specific PGR needs on a personal level.
- We need more relevant and diverse employers and not just the typical Graduate placements.
- Postgraduate careers services need to address those who do not want to go into academia whilst acknowledging their qualifications.
- I will create a Postgraduate Committee, made up of elected students, to reach out and accomplish these policy aims.
- This committee will ensure all corners of campus are involved and will provide ambassadors for students to relate to.
- I will ensure full integration of international students into the student union and provide advice on changes to the student visa system.