**A new Postgraduate Association (PGA), currently being implemented, aims to improve the representation and engagement of the University’s 10,000-strong postgraduate community.**
This follows the introduction of a postgraduate sabbatical officer within Warwick Students’ Union (SU), which was passed by Student Council in January 2012. Postgraduates represent 45 percent of Warwick students.
Inaugural postgraduate officer Anna Chowcat will chair a PGA committee comprised of the faculty representatives elected in this week’s elections.
Nese Ceren Tosun was elected as the Arts Faculty representative. The Social Studies Faculty election was inquorate, whilst no candidates ran to represent the Science Faculty; these positions will now be filled by a co-option at Student Council.
A postgraduate research (PGR) representative and a social secretary will be elected at the PGA’s first meeting on October 25 in the Mighty Duck.
The PGA will engage with University policy procedures through faculty representatives’ positions on the boards of their respective faculties.
In addition to existing postgraduate councillors and faculty representation, two new PGA representatives – to be selected on a weekly basis – will also sit on Student Council.
Speaking to the _Boar_, Anna Chowcat explained that having postgraduate councillors who represented the wider student body as well as postgraduates made it “difficult for people to feed issues into these people”.
She added that the flexible basis of PGA representation on Student Council reflects that “people have different expertise, but also people have demanding timetables at PG level”.
Ms Chowcat added that this also “speaks for the diverse community of postgrads we have at Warwick”.
She also stressed the importance of social engagement for postgraduates. She said: “We wanted to have a social side because that’s one of the areas that the Union is really lacking in”.
Ms Chowcat outlined her focus on “postgrads being able to socialise with each other and attending events that aren’t undergraduate focused”.
Saturday Sessions, a fortnightly postgraduate event in the Terrace Bar, aims to improve the social engagement of postgraduates with the SU.
Drop-in sessions in the new Postgraduate Hub in Senate House will also facilitate direct communication for postgraduates with the Union.
Ms Chowcat conceded that the success of these initiatives rests on their communication, and that postgraduates generally are more difficult to engage if they are studying intensive one-year courses or live off-campus.
The SU are seeking to improve communication through targeted emails, the postgraduate officer’s blog and advertisement through the Postgraduate Hub.
“Every week we’ve been doing specific postgraduate emails which I’ve made sure that the content has been relevant to postgraduates,” said Ms Chowcat.
“All the Sabb team are inputting on that as well, so it’s not just coming down to me, […] everyone’s thinking about the different needs of postgraduates.”
English Literature Master’s student Alex Fyfe supported the changes: “we represent a significant part of the University, but without proper engagement with the union, our voice is unlikely to be heard,” he said.
Mr Fyfe added that “more social events would be nice so that we have as much chance as possible to get to know people from different disciplines within the community”.
However, he also cautioned that “options must continue to grow with each new cohort in order to ensure that the PG community remains relevant to the Union and vice-versa”.