On Saturday 21st February 2012 NUS held a forum at their head quarters in London to discuss the information advice and guidance that should be available to postgraduate students. The HE White Paper in England suggested that there should be a national student survey and key information set for taught postgraduates. This has raised several issues which the NUS Postgraduate Committee will be working on this term. These include the following:
- What might the student survey and key information look like?
- What other information, advice and guidance needs do taught and research postgraduates have?
- How can students’ unions improve how they offer IAG to postgraduate students?
Postgraduate students (both taught and research) and student union staff as well as members of NUS staff attended the forum to give a variety of perspectives on these issues. Myself (Annette Samuel, Education Representation Officer) and David Mason, a biological sciences postgraduate course rep studying cancer research, attended on behalf the University of Leicester.
The forum lasted 3 hours and the agenda was as follows:
1.45-2.15- A day in the life…
2.15-3.00- Key Information for postgrads
3.15-4.00- Speed research – what can I get from my union?
4.00-4.30- Review, recommendations and reports
The majority of the day was group discussion on the issues that effect postgraduate students and what they need to consider or what motivates them to take a course. For some this may be a passion for the subject, often the case in scientific research, whereas for others it may be to develop and improve their career prospects. All points discussed were minuted and will be sent to me over the next week or so, at which point I will share any relevant information with the course reps at Leicester.
For the speed research task we were required to highlight the key information a postgraduate might need from a students’ union website. Our table felt they would need information on opening times, accommodation, how to get involved and any postgraduate events the union is holding to name a few. We were then asked to look at the website of the university that another person on our table attends and see how easy it is to find this information. I’m pleased to report the feedback for Leicester was pretty good.
Hopefully the points discussed will allow our Students’ Union to have a look at what we provide for postgraduate students and highlight any areas that we need to improve.