So this is Christmas. And what have you done? Another semester over. And assessments just begun!
Writing this report to you all, I sit here and question where the past semester has gone. It only seemed last week that I was writing my November report! I’ve always found the first semester the toughest as it tends to be the longest but the key thing is we’ve made it, Christmas vacation is just around the corner! I know all of you still have a lot of work to do, whether it be writing assessments or marking them, but I hope you all take some time off over Christmas to enjoy the festive season either with families, friends or fellow students.
But on to my report! The KPA Committee have continued to work hard over the past month to represent you and your interests to the University and to ensure you get the best possible experience whilst here at Keele. Often it can feel like we spend a lot of our time putting our hands up in meetings and asking ‘but what about postgraduates?’ but this in itself is important. What it means is that you can always be assured that the KPA Committee are holding the University to account in ensuring they give you the best postgraduate experience possible. But onto the details, what has your Committee been doing for you this past month?
KPA Ordinary General Meeting (OGM)
On Monday 4th December the KPA held it’s first general meeting of the academic year. This was a great opportunity for you, the membership, to learn more about what your Committee has been doing for you but also for you to contribute to the work of the KPA through open discussion and voting on motions. The general meeting was really useful in discussing issues that are affecting postgraduates. Some of them we were aware of, others we were not. Your views and experiences that you expressed at the meeting have been taken on board and is informing our work as a Committee so we can make sure we better represent you and your interests to the University.
As well as discussions, there were also three motions presented at the meeting, written by the membership. All three of these motions passed and now form policy that the KPA Committee must follow. Below are a summary of these motions and I have also attached the full motions for your reference. If you do have any questions about the motions please do not hesitate to contact myself.
- No Third Year Modules at Masters Level – The membership has actioned the KPA Committee to lobby the University to remove all Level 6 (third year) modules at Level 7 (Masters level) and ensure these are replaced with Level 7 modules.
- Communication, Communication, Communication – The membership has actioned the KPA Committee to lobby KeeleSU to investigate who and how many students have not been receiving KeeleSU emails and to lobby KeeleSU to address the issue and ensure all students are receiving KeeleSU emails.
- Not All Masters Students Are Postgraduates – The membership has actioned the KPA Committee to look into extending its membership to include integrated masters students in their final year of study so long as it meets all legal and university regulation obligations. This will require constitutional change so updates on the work to this and the final approval of the constitution must be brought to the membership in a general meeting. The Committee is also to ensure that any rise in membership should see a proportional rise in its grant from the University and is to lobby KeeleSU to better represent integrated masters students whilst they’re not members of the KPA.
The Committee continue to engage in a range of activities to help ensure postgraduates at Keele have the best possible experience whilst they are here. Below are some highlights of the work we have been doing of the past month:
- Paying Tuition Fees with PG Government Loans – Many of you who are receiving the government postgraduate loans told us that the deadlines for your fees do not match the payment dates for your loans. Whilst we advised you to speak to the Income Office to change your payment dates, we also agreed that the University processes had not sufficiently changed enough to match with the ways postgraduates are now funding their studies. As a result, we approached the University with the issue and they have agreed to change the fee payment dates for the next academic year depending on how you are funded. If funded by the government loan you will be set three payment dates to be in line with the loan payments. However, if you are self-funded you will be set on a monthly payment plan to help spread the cost of your fees. Remember, you can always approach the Income Office to set up a payment plan if neither option work for you!
- Earlier Module Selection – For the most part, PGT students choose their modules during Welcome Week. This means that they do not get their timetables until the end of Welcome Week at best. This makes it hard for students, especially part-time and those with care and/or work commitments, to plan for the semester. We have currently been in discussions with the University about trying to move the module selection to be earlier, whilst maintaining the ability for students to get advice from lecturers on the modules, so they can get their timetables before they arrive at Keele.
- Doctoral Loans – 2018/19 is the first academic year where the government doctoral loans will be offered. More details of this loan can be found here. The KPA has been working with the University to develop a package that the University can offer to prospective PhD students who are looking to take out the doctoral loan. More details of this will, hopefully, be available soon.
- Induction – We have continued to push the University to review its induction for postgraduates. We have been successful in making the University realise that work needs to be done to improve the induction, in particular ensuring students get sufficient information in sufficient time. In particular, we have been able to establish a group to look at PGR induction and how this can be improved for the next academic year.
- Christmas Events – Our Christmas events are already well under way, you can view our Christmas events list here. The KPA Clubhouse will be open throughout the vacation period bar Boxing Day and New Years Day. We will also be laxing our 21 and over policy as the Clubhouse becomes one of the few venues open over Christmas Vacation. For all students on campus over the Christmas period, remember you have a place where you can come and enjoy the festive season together!
- Movember – Over November the KPA supported the Movember Foundation. We’re really pleased to announce that we were able to raise £187! Thank you to all who supported us, we really appreciate it!
The above activities are only a selection of the vast amount of work that your Committee have been doing over the post month, but I hope it gives you a flavour of what we have been up to. Got something that you think we should be working on and want to know more about what we have been doing? Then why not send us an email! You can learn who your Committee are and how to contact them by going here.
On behalf of the KPA, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. We hope you all have a good vacation and come back ready for semester 2!