PG Research Initiative
During the summer of 2012, the Students' Union commissioned four postgraduates to research student life and how students engage with UBU. The research focused on qualitative methods (like interviews and focus groups) to develop descriptive narratives and case studies to enhance the data. The full
reports can be downloaded by clicking on the boxes below. If you want to read a summary report of all the research pieces and the recommendations UBU made to the university, you can download it here
This research helped us understand the challenges that postgrads face day-to-day and will be part of the evidence base we use to develop policy proposals to ensure that student support is fit for purpose. The work will also help develop a UBU Postgraduate Hub to provide support and advice tailored to postgrads.
A workshop was held on Monday the 11th of February 2013, when the student researchers presented their reports. Each 15 minute presentation was followed by a Q&A session and a break, allowing attendants to pick the sessions they were interested in. At the end of the workshop there was a roundtable discussion with UBU staff, invited academics and student audience about how UBU can enhance the postgrad student experience.
Look out for more opportunities coming soon!
PG Research Initiative Reports:
The report looked explored the key funding issues facing taught masters students at UoB. The themes that came through were fees and funding, academic choices, term-time work, money worries, fear of debt and student perceptions, and awareness of what is available. Participants noted that masters students required more financial help based on need, not just merit. The preferred solution to financial issues was some form of government administered student loans, like those offered to undergraduates as student debt appeared to be more manageable. There is a need for more advice on how to find work to fit around studies, which was an important means of keeping students afloat financially over their study.
This piece of research revealed issues behind the PGs' lack of engagement with their student representatives. PGs perceive themselves as more independent and are likely to take up the issues themselevs, while the PG course structure and intensity makes it difficult for them to get involved.
Participants demanded a better pastoral support system for postgraduates, as supervisory arrangements focus on academic progress, yet a number of PG-specific welfare factors impact on studies go unmonitored. The isolated nature of PG degrees can add to welfare issues faced by students along with the financial strain of supporting oneself during very demanding and/or lengthy periods of research.
International students are seen as an active segment of student population, responding well to initiatives and keen to get involved. The participants made positive comments about the Multifaith Chaplaincy, Careers Service, Student Health, and the Counseling Service. They also showed interest in having more social events, more interaction, more active representatives and better language support. Subjects wanted ways to feel more comfortable with the culture, language and local community.