Hello! I am Cambridge SU’s Postgraduate Access, Education and Participation officer (or AEP PG for less of a mouthful!).
So, who am I? More importantly, what can I do for you? The AEP PG works on postgraduate issues across the university specifically to do with accessible education. My role was created to highlight the fact that all too often, postgraduate study is given secondary consideration both by the University and within conversations about students’ experiences more broadly. I am fighting to represent postgraduates over this year and have some exciting plans to make Cambridge postgraduate life more accessible.
In my first few months of this role, I have been planning campaigns for this year and touching base with academics and staff to understand what they can do to help postgraduate education.
As part of this, unfortunately Covid is still here and will have a large impact on teaching and participation this term. This has lots of downsides but also brings some opportunities. My undergraduate counterpart, Zaynab, and I, have met with Graham Virgo to discuss international students from red list countries and how they can be best catered for as they come over to the UK and need to quarantine. On the other hand, online learning has created the opportunity to have recorded and accessible lectures at Cambridge for the first time ever. To make sure that students continue to have the choice of online or in-person, we have been meeting with academics and staff to plan an approach to blended learning (incorporating online and in-person teaching).
One of my main priorities for this year is to ‘Scrap App Fees’. In short, this means getting rid of the postgraduate application fee, which currently stands at £75 per application. This fee is a barrier to access and limiting choices of future postgraduates who would like to apply here. As a plug, if you would like to be involved in this campaign this year drop me a message!
Funding is a constant worry for postgraduate students. It is not just the application fee, funding your whole time at Cambridge can be incredibly difficult and stressful. For most PhD students, gaining funding can mean the difference between studying here or going elsewhere – no matter if you have a place or not. As part of this, I am working with the Postgraduate funding team to create a portal to make all postgraduate funding more accessible and available to apply for. We particularly want clear signposting and rules to how PhD funding can be used and for whom.
I will also be working with the postgraduate president, Anjum, to support PhD students who supervise. Currently, their working situation is precarious and inconsistent which leads to unnecessary strain on the student. We want to create a more consistent and supportive working environment, especially important during a stressful PhD.
All being said, my main role is to represent the student body, so while I have these plans in place, the SU’s main priority is you – the student. If there are any problems, issues, or campaigns you are keen to raise then we are here to help. Please do reach out to me and I am looking forward to meeting you all soon!