My reflections on this term and my year.
What have you done this term?
- Completed work on PGR Startegic Delivery Plan (SDP) – The PGR SDP which I have been feeding into across the year was recently approved by Senate and can now progress to the implementation stages. I presented this document at Senate alongside Brian walker (PVC Research) and I am hopeful it will make some really important improvements to the PGR experience at Newcastle.
- Renewed decol campaign – this was a key aim of mine from the start of the year, and this term myself, Education Officer and Welfare and Equality Officer have been able to renew the Decolonising NCL campaign started last year. In doing this, I re-wrote sections of the website to better reflect what the campaign has achieved so far and how we see it progressing in the future. We then sent emails to Heads of Schools and key members of university staff to encourage them to be a part of the pledge system. As a result of this we got 2 further pledges and have meetings arranged with several schools to discuss them making a pledge in the near future. It has been great to see this work is continuing within the university and that schools and departments are keen to make commitments to decolonising practices and share their work with students more widely. We are also asking for feedback on any barriers they have faced to decolonisation within their schools/departments and plan to use these insights to make recommendations to the university on how they can further embed decol university wide.
- Strike mitigations – following the announcement of further strike action I have been working as part of the sabbatical officer team and with permanent NUSU staff to plan how we will support students and put pressure on the university to take more measures to help students. I wrote a statement informing students on the proposed strike action and will be continuing to update our communications to students regularly.
- Student Rep Awards – as part of our CSA awards, I was able to shortlist and co-host the Student Rep Awards. This was a lovely evening celebrating the work of our fantastic reps and it was great to also read the nominations for everyone when shortlisting and hear about how much the rep’s work means to other students. We had a great number of students attending and had two keynote speakers – one UG and one PG focussed which were very successful.
What has been your biggest achievement?
- PGR SDP – the strategic delivery plan has been passed by Senate and will now go into implementation. I have been able to feedback on this plan consistently throughout the year and help to shape it. Earlier this year, I organised a roundtable discussion with PGR school reps which enabled the inclusion PGR employment within the document – with a view to establish further the issues PGRs are facing being between staff and student status and how the university can reduce these issues and their impact. Many of the issues proposed for further exploration within this document, such as supervisor training, are things which PGRs have come to me about across the year, so it is good to see the university working towards resolving these and I am glad to see the student voice I shared embedded in the plan. This term I was able to co-present this plan to Senate.
What could you have improved on?
- I think my time management for this term could have been improved. As we are nearing the end of our term there are several loose ends that we want to resolve, and this can get difficult on top of regular meetings and urgent student queries. At times I think I could have managed this better and will be working on prioritisation for the rest of this term to achieve what I hope to by the end of my sabbatical term.
What piece of advice would you pass on to your successor?
- The main piece of advice that I would pass on to Danica is to trust your knowledge on student life. I think at times it can feel really overwhelming going into meetings with senior university staff and it can be hard to feel confident in what you want to say. But I think it’s really important to remember that you are a postgraduate student with a wealth of experience that your peers, NUSU staff and university staff really value, and you will gather so much student voice from the students you work with so your contribution in meetings (even the most senior meetings) will always be really valuable. I can’t wait to see what you do in your time as Postgraduate Officer!