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Postgrads at UEA UCU

POST-GRAD Meeting March 2012

 

A small group of post-grad UCU members met in March 2012 to explore concerns and ideas.

WHY THE POST-GRADS JOINED UCU:

  • · Concerns about many changes to HE, and a feeling that UCU nationally was playing an important role in campaigning against negative changes.
  • · Experience of difficulties at previous workplaces and support from a trades union.
  • · Issues around lack of admin support as a PhD student.
  • · To show solidarity with the 30 November 2011 UCU strike.

ISSUES FOR POSTGRADS:

  •  Lack of admin support for PhD research.
  • ·Lack of consultation with postgrads, and a sense that post-grads are seen as marginal.
  • ·Lack of funding: admin staff cuts; lack of technical support (in the sciences), teaching staff not being replaced when they leave.
  •  Concerns about the job market, and worries there will be no jobs for post-grads when they complete their PhDs.
  •  A lack of concern for equality issues, particularly around gender and disability.
  •  The REF and the impact on early career researchers. Some felt that the discussions about this had been so technical that most post-grads would not have been able to understand. Non-jargonised briefings were necessary for such matters.

IDEAS FOR RECRUITING AND ORGANISING POSTGRADS

  • · Set up a post-grad Facebook groups and invite people to join. (There is already something similar in some schools). Departmental Facebook groups would be best for departments where postgrads don’t meet regularly. The FB groups could be linked to the UCU website.
  • · UCU presentations at monthly school meetings for post-grads. Perhaps a 15-minute presentation, and hand out some membership forms. However, these meetings don’t take place in all departments. Different strategies would be needed in different departments.
  • · Put posters up in postgrad work/lab areas of the campus, encouraging people to join.
  • · Occasional workshops on issues (e.g. regarding recent concerns about the REF it would have been useful to explain how the REF works and the implications for post-grads, including how this will affect future job prospects. It was stressed that such events (and the publicity for them) need to be communicated in non-technical/lay terms.

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