Written by Isobel.
All views are Isobel's.
Recently I travelled to York for the National Postgraduate Conference 2019. The conference was kindly hosted by the York Graduate Students’ Association and I’m pleased to say it was the first time that a representative from Hull has attended.
One of my goals for this year is to ensure that Hull University Union is effectively representing its members on a national level. By ensuring we are getting involved with conversations at Parliament and national conferences I’m confident we are meeting this goal.
I was keen to represent Hull University Union at this national conference so we could learn from other Students’ Unions how we can better improve the student experience for postgraduate students. It also nicely follows on from my work as President of Education around #PostgradsMatterToo, a campaign I started to lobby the University for postgrad specific space, as well as setting up the first-ever PGT working group with the University to improve the PG experience. My campaign around postgraduate space is something that I am continuing as President of the Students' Union.
The event was attended by delegates from 25 different Students’ Unions.
It was also great that alongside York Graduate Students’ Association, Cambridge University Graduate Union was present and part of the Q&A session of the conference. They are two out of only three Graduate Unions to exist in the country.
What sessions did I attend?
The Story So Far: National Postgraduate Representation
I enjoyed hearing from Rose Bennet who was my favourite speaker of the day. Being a former Sabbatical Officer herself, Rose was very relevant and has a great knowledge postgraduate issues, both generally and nationally. Her hashtag of #PostgradsArePeopleToo demonstrated how we have lots more work ahead of us to ensure that postgraduates are properly represented.
Q&A with Postgraduate Unions
This was an insightful session with the York GSA and Cambridge Graduate Union. It predominately discussed the idea of having a Postgraduate Experience Officer and the benefits. Here, we don’t have a full-time sabbatical officer for postgraduate students and our part-time officers are largely centred on academic issues, as they situated in the Education Zone. This got me thinking about how we can do more to include postgraduates generally and across our different zones.
Supporting Social Transitions of International Postgraduate Students
This was a really interesting session led by Jenna Mettelmeier, which focused on the research-based ‘value of social community’. Students have been quoted to say that this interaction and community can be ‘life-saving', which emphases the need for this to be implemented correctly at institutions and to support students through social transitions. This is where the Students' Union can play a large role in helping to support and develop these communities. This was very relevant to my ongoing work - lobbying the University for a postgraduate specific space on campus.
Building a Postgraduate Community
The York GSA led this event and it was amazing to see just how much work they put into building their postgraduate community at York. It was really useful with lots of learning points to take away, particularly around building networks and having postgraduate only events.
Postgraduate Widening Participation
This session was all about facts and figures and demonstrated that more is needed to lobby institutions to monitor aspiration, attainment, discrimination and application choice.
It is even clearer to me after this conference that here in Hull we need to do more to build a postgraduate community. I’m excited to push further forward the campaign to have a postgraduate specific space on campus.
If you are a postgraduate student, it would be great to have your support for this campaign. Please message me on Facebook or Twitter, or drop me an email [email protected] about your experiences and why you think it would be beneficial to have a postgraduate specific space on campus.