For those of you that may not know, NUS Sections is a conference that brings together delegates from various students’ unions across the UK to discuss, debate and vote on motions, including electing the political leadership for the year ahead. It’s made up of the International Students Conference, the Postgraduate Students Conference, Mature & part-time students conference, and the Parents & Careers Conference.
The Postgraduate Committee were asked to observe at the conference, and I attended as a voting delegate. Here’s a round-up of what I got up to at the conference:
* We looked at the reasons for NUS being under strain this year financially and in terms of government pressure and explored how this feeds into the current concerns of postgraduate and undergraduate students.
* We have formed a committee to ensure that those who attend from the SU in the future vote in line with existing SU policy, unless a delegate’s manifesto contradicts this.
* Based on the agenda, we were able to tackle several issues that are extremely relevant to UEA. It was great to see the benefits of national collaboration on these issues, for example looking collaboratively as Associate Tutor’s rights.
* I was able to combine my travel to the conference with a visit to GSA in York to learn from other postgraduate-dedicated institutions which is really useful for me.
* We elected a PGR and a PGT rep to represent postgraduates nationally as a part of NUS. Disappointingly, there is no elected committee as there was in the past, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
* Their postgraduate budget of £2k is quite small for the whole year. Uea(su) will therefore be submitting a motion to increase this funding however, as we believe that more money should be dedicated to postgraduate representation.
* There were sessions on the BAME attainment gap and what this means for postgraduates and academics. There are very few BAME professors and limited data on attainment at postgraduate level. At uea(su) we have a number of academic policies related to this issue, which will drive our work on these matters into the future.
* We also passed some policies related to postgraduate students. This included ensuring NUS supports PG students into the future.
NUS is currently looking to improve its focus on postgraduates and I fully support this, which is why it is so important that I got to go to this conference and be involved in this discussion. I would love to hear from you if you have any ideas concerning this so do get in touch via email@example.com. Alternatively, if you’d like to hear more about the conference then feel free to come and find me in Union House for a chat.