Summer can be the most stressful time in a postgraduate student’s course. As dissertation work piles up for taught postgraduates, the University shuts down. Without the majority of students around, there are hardly any events for PGs to attend in their downtime, and campus can become quite a lonely place. Here at the SU, we are creating a summer programme to support postgraduates over this quiet period.
As students begin to leave for summer, campus tends to grind to a halt. Catering operates on reduced hours, club and society events disappear, and what is usually a hive of activity becomes a ghost town.
For postgraduates, however, campus resources are vital during this period. Taught postgraduate students will be writing their dissertations, and PhD students work through the entire year. This prospect is daunting enough by itself, but made even harder by the lack of resources available to them while they study.
By resources, I’m referring to a lot more than just the shop’s limited opening hours. A worrying percentage of postgraduate students have expressed concerns about their mental health due to increasingly heavy workloads, and have also felt unable to approach anyone to discuss this due to its wrongful normalisation as just being a part of university life. As Postgraduate Education Officer, I have been working towards offering postgraduate-specific counselling and wellbeing services, and I believe that it is important to continue to offer support throughout the whole calendar year.
Another issue that postgraduates tend to face during this period is loneliness. A dissertation is the biggest piece of independent research of a postgraduate student’s university career, and as such many students may find themselves feel isolated both academically and personally.
I am working with the SU to combat this by planning a programme of events specifically aimed at postgraduate students, to run throughout the summer. This offers a chance for students to chat with other people in the same position as them, as well as getting the chance to take a break from work and engage in something different. We’re currently running PG Sports Sessions and would like to continue these all the way through to September, as well as planning various social events during this period.
I particularly want to look into running events off-campus, outside Norwich. I’ve got some loose plans to organise a strawberry-picking event in Norfolk, and perhaps a trip to the beach, but I really want your input.
If you’ve got any ideas for social events that you want to see over the summer break, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.