Wednesday 9th March gave the candidates running for the role of Postgraduate Officer the opportunity to express and expand upon key points in their manifesto during a Question Time. The candidates running for the role of Postgraduate Officer are Hayden Manuell, Matt Bramley and Rajesh Ramesh.
Elliott Denham (current Postgraduate Officer) posed questions to the three candidates running in this year’s elections, with questions also being taken from the floor.
Candidates were given 60 seconds to introduce themselves before the questioning was held. Matt Bramley commented on his experience studying and living abroad, and his involvement in organising the Postgraduate Winter Ball. He said he was running with “hope to build a bigger community” for postgraduate students.
Rajesh Rajesh introduced himself as an international student from the city of Chennai in Southern India, his experience in the Winter Ball also being of note for him. His role as a tutor and rep at Raleigh Park has allowed him to talk to lots of people. Rajesh said that he was “looking forward to the results.”
Hayden Manuell spoke of his membership in Mussoc and Blowsoc as an example of the many societies he’s been involved with during his time studying at Nottingham. He placed emphasis on “addressing issues of segregation between undergraduate and postgraduate students.”
The first question posed to the candidates was simple, but important: why do they want to be the Postgraduate Officer at UoN?
Rajesh stated that he sees the position as “one step more” in his effort to make changes. His experience as an international student has meant he has had to interact with “so many students” and so can relate to students in different situations. He wants to carry forward the work of pervious postgraduate officers as well as causing change for the postgraduate community as a whole.
Postgraduate students have “always felt some kind of disconnect with the Student’s Union.”
Matt said that the main reason he was running for the role followed his close work with the SU and Elliott Denham, saying that he saw “a massive opportunity for much more to be done” for postgraduate students. He believes he can help “all of the postgraduates” to “improve their experience” at the university.
Hayden believes that he has “taken a lot from this university” and he wants to “give something back, at the end of the day”.
The second question, from the floor, concerned how the candidates – if successful – would use their position as Postgraduate Officer to make sure that the needs of postgraduate students are kept on the agenda at the University. The question made specific reference to the National Survey of Students (NSS) which focuses on undergraduate students.
Rajesh noted that postgraduate students have “always felt some kind of disconnect with the Student’s Union”. He hopes to change this by improving communication between postgraduates and the University.
Hayden suggested that a survey needed setting up for the postgraduate students to partake in. He stated that such a survey should be considered of “an equal weighting” as the NSS.
Matt stated that as Postgraduate Officer he would “be seeking feedback all the time.” He believes that there is “not enough representation” for postgraduate students, and suggested taking feedback direct from societies to implement quicker change.
Enhancing the postgraduate academic experience is key to the role, as Elliot Denham noted.
Hayden believes that events, particularly academic events, go unnoticed by postgraduate students. He stated that academic events around campus are an opportunity for students to “sell themselves, and show themselves off.” This in turn, he states, will motivate the postgraduates, increasing the standing of the university as a whole.
Rajesh placed emphasis on “practical experience.” He believes field trips, and physical experience in the relevant schools of study would enhance the academic experience, as “industrial experience is what distinguishes you today.”
Matt suggests that a centralisation of academic events is needed. He also notes the infrequency of meetings of the Postgraduate Sounding Board. “We need to be quicker with that […] it’s great, but it needs to be improved.”
Candidates were then asked to focus their attention on how they plan on engaging more postgraduate students in the various societies and sports that the University has to offer.
Rajesh would like to tackle the issue of postgraduate engagement with a preference system designed specifically with postgraduates in mind. “That would be more beneficial to me than being barraged with information.”
Hayden suggests that postgraduate specific taster events would allow students to develop a network of postgraduates before joining a society or sports club.
“We need to encourage a cultural change.”
Matt stated, “We need to encourage a cultural change.” He believes that if societies wish to engage postgraduate students then events in the weeks after Welcome Week need to occur. He made reference to individuals who had expressed to him an interest in attending events, but that time management in Welcome Week was an issue.
Images: Luke Norman