Policy Inquiry: PGR Student Experience

President Jack O'Neill tells you why he's launching a policy inquiry into the student experience of postgraduate students, and what that means for you.

If you could change one thing about your experience as a PGR student, what would it be?

What is this?

When running to be your Students’ Union President, I outlined that as a Union, we should be improving the lives of all students – we should be doing everything that we can to make the Royal Holloway experience as good as it can be, no matter the status or level of students, and no matter their engagement with us.

One group of students that are commonly overlooked are postgraduate research students. With the majority of students at Royal Holloway doing an undergraduate degree, and with the vast majority of elected representatives coming from an undergraduate background, it is easy to focus efforts on this area. But this doesn’t mean that others should be ignored.

This is why I am launching a policy inquiry into the PGR student experience.

What do we currently do?

In truth, not an awful lot. As of yet, we haven’t done an awful lot for PGR students at all. There have been a few Give It A Go events for PGRs but this is about as far as it goes. However, the Democracy Review also told us that we need to be doing more – so this is what we are doing.

This academic year will see the establishment of the PGR Collective.

As with all of the other Collectives, students can opt in and join. The Collective then has the ability to put on events, run campaigns and bring together a community of students on campus. Look out for more information in the coming weeks about how to opt in to the Collective, and then how to lead them!

Why are we doing this?

I can safely hold my hands up and say whilst I gained knowledge about various aspects of the PGR journey over the last year, I cannot draw on any personal experience for what it is like to study a postgraduate research degree here. So that is the purpose of this inquiry, to gain a better understanding and to find out what we as your Union can do, for you.

The aim is for this policy work to result in a document that clearly details the PGR experience here at Royal Holloway and some key recommendations for moving forward in order for us to support you.

How are we going to do this?

We have already begun doing some external research on this topic and identifying some of the key national trends, as well as some areas of good practice. This has culminated in us publishing a policy inquiry briefing document based on the student experience of PGR students.

Policy Inquiry Briefing Document

Next up, we have focus groups planned for Monday 7 October (2-4pm) and Thursday 10 October (10am-12pm).

Please do get in touch and let us know if you are able to make these - it will be informal with refreshments provided, and a chance to chat about your experience here. If you would be interested in having a chat with me about this but can’t make these focus groups then let me know and I can sort something else out!

Jack O'Neill // President