We regularly work with our Campaign's and Policy team to conduct research, producting reports that feed back into university committees.
Masters Dissertation Experience Survey
We are keen to find out about the experience of Postgraduate Taught students in regards to support in completing your dissertation. As such, your feedback and comments on your experiences are very much appreciated. We will use the results of this survey to present recommendations to UEA on their support for Masters students' dissertations.
The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete and is open to all PGT students in the academic year 2016/2017.
to fill in our survey!
The Experience of PhD Students as Associate Tutors
Through consultation with the Postgraduate Committee, and January's Graduate Assembly, we were made aware of PhD students' concerns around their employment rights as Associate Tutors at UEA. The concerns they raised matched those of PhD Associate Tutors in the years before them, indicating that not enough progress had been made by the university, and prompting the Student's Union to conduct a full investigation and report. From the anecdotal accounts they gave, there seemed to be a lack of consistency in how Associate Tutors are recruited, trained, paid, and supported across schools and Faculties.
Given the harsh reality, that every PhD student wishing to progress into an acaemic career will require teaching experience, associate tutors may be more willing to 'accept' poor working conditions than risk having no work at all.
Regulation and support of teaching opportunities for PhD students can have subsequent negative impact in the following areas, making it a serious concern:
The mental health of PhD students
The educational experience of undergraduate students
The number of BME PhD students progressing into academic careers.
You can can read the full report here.
If you are concerned about your experience as an Associate Tutor, the University's policy on Postgraduate Research Employment can be found here.
The Honesty Project
For a number of years there has been a growing concern that postgraduate research students disproportionally suffer from a variety of mental health conditions. There has been some speculation as to the causes in the media, much it focusing on the increasingly resilience required to complete a PhD or doctoral-level qualification. Convention wisdom, as to be found in the likes of PhD Comics, is that when it comes to the impact on wellbeing, it really is “tough to complete a PhD”.
These allusions to the issues surround PGR mental health were brought to national attention in the summer of 2015 when research carried out by Exeter Guild of Students revealed some shocking statistics on the mental health of their members.1 In their research some 85% of the 165 respondents stated that their work had caused them stress but, much more alarmingly, 40% believed that their physical and mental health had worsened as a result of studying at a doctoral-level.
The key questions are likely to be: what are the issues that mean there is a PGR-specific problem (as opposed to UG/PGT), and why is this a problem now.
Students made clear to the Union of UEA Students that this was an issue they wished to explore at UEA and so in autumn 2015 the SU developed a programme intended to raise the profile of PGR mental health under the banner of ‘The Honesty Project’ – named to reflect the focus on our aim to get students and academics talking and being honest about PGR Mental Health. The beginning of this was the issuing a survey with the aim to gauge the scope of the perceived problem at UEA. The result of this survey are laid out in the following sections which aim to draw together themes identified by our Postgraduate research community. The Union of UEA Students is under no illusion that this report is exhaustive and, if anything, it has served to make clear that this is an area of work which will require continued and probing work over the next few years – but want we want to do is to start a conversation that acknowledges this issue for the crisis that we believe it has become.
You can read the findings of the survey and resulting report here:
in this section