Student Voice Report: PGR Student Experience

After a year in the making, we're delighted to bring you our first-ever piece of PGR-specific research and lobbying work – the PGR Student Voice Report!

In May 2019, the Students’ Union launched a Policy Inquiry on the postgraduate research student experience at Royal Holloway Throughout this academic year, we have been conducting high-level research, engaging with all of our PGR community, and deliberating over the ways we can work together to improve the Royal Holloway PGR experience; this is the culmination of all of this work.

Personally, I think there are two incredibly important things to highlight. Firstly, before we began this project, the annual engagement with PGR students peaked at less than a handful of students. This project has demonstrated how students’ unions can positively work with the PGR community, and I am incredibly pleased we worked with so many of you on it. Secondly, the job isn’t finished – indeed, in some cringey Hollywood movie-esque monologue, this is just the beginning.

Read the report

Identifying challenges and offering solutions

Going into this policy inquiry, we wanted to make it clear that the project should identify the challenges, and offer the solutions. That is why within this report, you won’t simply find a commentary of the triumphs and challenges of PGR life at Royal Holloway, but rather you will find recommendations that underpin all of this work. With the newly established PGR Collective, it was also essential that this work wasn’t imposed on the PGR community. I am incredibly thankful for the constant work of the PGR Collective on this report; they have broadened the engagement with PGR students, and have worked tirelessly to ensure this report is representative and effective. If you are a PGR student reading this right now, join the Collective and be part of implementing this!

Representing all students

When I ran for President, I made it clear that the Students’ Union is there to represent all students and to make student life better for all Royal Holloway students. One of the forgotten communities in this, and indeed nationally within students’ unions, is the PGR community. It was equally clear that we couldn’t improve our impact for PGR students without first understanding what was going well, and what wasn’t going so well. The Democracy Review last year opened this opportunity with the introduction of a Policy Inquiry, an in-depth, research-informed process generating high-quality Student Voice reports on a particular topic.

We have recently presented this report to the relevant senior staff within the College in order to kickstart the implementation of this work. The report was received well and we are optimistic that moving forwards, the College will be open to working with us, and you, on these recommendations to improve the PGR experience.

Deputy Principal (Academic), Professor Katie Normington, commented: "We are delighted to receive this work by the Students' Union which captures the views of Post Graduate Research students. The action plan is detailed and we look forward to working with students, particularly in light of the effects now of Covid-19, to ensure that we prioritise the recommendations to ensure that they are best supported in the times ahead."

As this report now moves into the implementation phase, we’ll keep you posted on the next steps and timeframes.