Farewell Message From Outgoing President

Dear Postgraduates and friends of the KPA.

Today is my final day as your KPA President and the end of two years service as one of your postgraduate representatives. It’s been an interesting, stressful, eye-opening, difficult but most importantly fun learning curve, and I’ve enjoyed every second of being your representative (even if my face hasn’t always shown it!). I would just like to take a moment of your time, on my final day, to reflect on the great things we all (your officers and yourselves, our membership) have achieved over this past year.

Firstly, a thank you must go to our colleagues within the University who we have worked with us over the past year to improve the postgraduate experience here at Keele. In a Higher Education environment that continues to push the focus towards undergraduate education, they have always been willing to listen to us, your officers, who have worked very hard to raise your voice and your concerns to them. This has ultimately led to a review of PGR governance, the start of a review of PGT education, 24/7 vacation study space and so much more! (Want to learn more of what we’ve achieved? Have a look at my previous Presidential Monthly Reports that can be found on the KPA website.) Whilst the KPA will always continue to lobby the University to improve the postgraduate experience, I feel confident that they are always willing to listen and hear what YOU have to say.

A second thanks needs to go to all the staff at the KPA Clubhouse. They are all fantastic and put in incredible amounts of hard work and dedication to ensure you, our membership, have a space that you are happy and comfortable to use. The services and the facilities of the Clubhouse have continued to grow from strength to strength over the past year, making what was already a vibrant and welcoming space even more vibrant and even more welcoming. This would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our Bar and Entertainments Manager, Jules, who has spent the past year tinkering, reviewing and implementing a variety of schemes to ensure you can all get the most out of your space. I feel a thanks should also be made to Lee, Bar Supervisor, and Ellis, Kitchen Supervisor, who have given Jules immense support throughout the past year.

A third thanks is due to our Co-Ordinator, Alison. Anyone who has applied to the KPA Bursary will have communicated (I suspect many times!) with Alison, as she helps you all to submit applications to our KPA Bursary scheme. Alison has been a great asset not just to the organisation (supporting the officers in the administration of the charity) but has been of great benefit to myself personally. Without her support and guidance, I would have very much struggled to achieve all that was required of me as your President over this past year. So a very personal thanks from myself to Alison, and I know she will be there to support future Presidents in the same way she has supported me.

A fourth thanks is due to the fantastic team of Officers I have had the pleasure to work with this year. Your voluntary officers Chris (Activities), Sophia (Equality & Diversity) and Kristine (International) have gone above and beyond my expectations, putting in huge amounts of hours to help us paid officers and complete their own manifesto pledges to ensure the KPA is doing all it can to best support its membership, yourselves. You have truly blown me away with your dedication, so thank you! A thanks is also due to John (Secretary) who, despite still doing his PhD, dedicated a huge amount of time to support myself and George complete those little jobs we just couldn’t do. Indeed, his work on the Weekly Digest has been truly excellent and I know really appreciated by you all. His enthusiasm and dedication will make him a great Vice-President over the next academic year. A special thanks is also due to George (Vice-President) who, I am sure, has at times somehow taken on more work than I have. The amount of events, committees and campaigns he has got involved in is truly staggering, but he has also been a great support and friend to myself. I do believe that together we made a strong team. In this light, I feel confident he will serve you all extremely well as President next year.

With the exception of myself and Chris, who are stepping down, all of your Committee are continuing into the next year with the excellent addition of Roxy as Secretary. I wish them all the very best of luck over the next year. It is a fantastic experience and I am truly jealous I cannot continue to share it with you all.

My final thanks is to you, our membership. Over this past year you have all helped make our postgraduate community here at Keele even more vibrant, with increased engagement in all areas. This year saw our highest number of candidates and turnout in our elections. You organised and attended a wider variety of events. You nominated a whole array of candidates for our Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year Award, leading to our winner Stephanie Lonsdale and Runner-Up Sahil Gufar. You’ve fed back to us good areas of your experience but also areas for improvement, informing our work as your officers and ensuring that your voice and needs are truly represented to the University. The KPA is a membership-led organisation and you’ve all certainly risen to that call. I’ve been immensely proud of all that you have done and to be given the honour to have represented you as your KPA President.

And with that in mind, I would finally like to thank you all for two amazing years. My work and my passion over the last two years has been to represent you and your interests to the University and nationally, campaigning to ensure you can have the best possible experience during your time as a postgraduate. And I could not have done that without your faith and support in me. So thank you for electing me (twice!) to represent you. Thank you for working with me so enthusiastically. But most importantly, thank you for believing that I could be your voice to the University and nationally. I hope I have done your votes, trust and belief proud.

The KPA is a special organisation, one of only three postgraduate students’ unions in the UK, and we’ve managed to achieve some fantastic things over the past year. What this also means is that the KPA has the ability to achieve even more in the future. So good luck for the future, and I hope the postgraduate community shall continue to thrive and flourish here at Keele. And if anybody is about this evening, do come and join me, friends and colleagues at the KPA Clubhouse for the 1940s party – fancy dress is encouraged!

Ieuan Smith

KPA President 2017-18

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