Image: The Boar / Luke Chapman

What’s next for Warwick’s postgraduates? An interview with the SU’s Postgraduate Officer 

Over 10,000 postgraduate students are enrolled at the University of Warwick this year. Following this influx of new and returning students, The Boar recently sat down with the Warwick Students’ Union’s (SU) Vice President for Postgraduates: Vash Ravi.   

Do you believe that all postgraduates are well-equipped to enter the field of work once they leave Warwick, and what are you putting in place to ensure that resources are “adequate”, as quoted in your manifesto? 

“There is a difference between whether they are well-equipped and whether they have the resources to be well-equipped. The resources are out there it’s just a case of making them more accessible. For example, we have MyAdvantage, which is a great platform for interview training, application reviews, and part-time work. But a lot of people don’t really know about it, especially the support they offer after you graduate. Whether it’s newsletters or advertising events digitally, I’d like to really promote MyAdvantage as a platform for postgraduate students. I’d also like to improve the postgraduate section of the SU webpage, and I’m considering making a webpage specifically for people who are nearing graduation and looking for jobs.” 

Your manifesto had a heavy emphasis on increasing the “affordability” and “sustainability” of postgraduate life on campus. What challenges have you faced in that regard, and what is being put in place to resolve them? 

“The challenges have mostly been around inflation and improving the cost of living it’s one of the SU’s top priorities. So, to challenge this, we’ve put in bids for funding of different amounts to provide free breakfast to students. We’ve also got the five work streams, which are in line with the university’s work streams as follows: food, socialising, transport, part-time work, and hardship funding. The idea is to have one or two officers on each of those.” 

Many postgraduate students are in paid work alongside their degree. In terms of funding, what can be done to support people who fall under this category? 

“We want to improve GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) contracts. We’re trying to work on a solution that will lead to payments being made on time, and make sure these are paid fairly. For example, it might not cover additional work such as marking, responding to emails, reading, and preparing, and sometimes not all of that time is accounted for. The university did also increase its stipend allowance by 10% last year, which is really positive. But for people who don’t benefit from that, the Government has a £12,167 allowance threshold for a master’s loan and a £28,673 threshold for a doctoral loan. Both pose challenges as that might not be enough, and the doctoral loan covers the whole PhD, which is four years. There are different costs for different people as well, especially those who have childcare responsibilities we want to make sure that everything is accessible to them, and people’s different needs are being met. There are different committees that us officers would sit on to work on things like that for example there’s Widening Participation and an Education Committee too.”  

Many postgraduates are living on campus this year, and as reported in our previous issue, campus rent prices have increased yet again by an average of roughly 6%. Is this something you have much influence over, and if so, what’s being done to challenge that? 

“Directly, I don’t have any influence on the rent prices, but it will be something we’ll be raising our voices on to tackle it in the future. We will be demanding at least a freeze in rent prices as we have noticed that it’s increasing quicker than inflation. I understand that other places are increasing prices, so rent has to go up to match that, but it’s hard for students to afford it. I would like the cost of rent to be lowered. Some accommodations have been over £200/week for a while now. I’ve seen the Warwick Housing Organisation on Instagram, and it states the facts of rent prices over the years. In 10 years, it’s gone up by around 35%, and I know inflation exists, but even so, that’s a big increase.”

Another part of your manifesto was this big emphasis on ‘connection’. What kind of things are in place, and where would you like to go with them, in terms of bringing postgraduates together? 

“I’m currently working on a postgraduate fair happening on November 2. Most postgraduates don’t really get a welcome week, so it’ll be a similar setup to form connections. I’ve contacted both the IATL (Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning) and Warwick Doctoral College, so I hope to have lots of postgraduate-specific things in place. Hopefully, there’ll be food and drinks as well as a social aspect, as something I’ve noticed in my time as a postgraduate is that there weren’t many opportunities to socialise between different departments. The SU has also requested funding for life skills workshops, [alongside] art and meditation sessions. Of course, we intend to ask postgraduates what they want specifically, but if that funding is successful, we can definitely put more in place to bring postgraduates together.” 

That sounds really positive and leads well into my final question. What is the main thing you’d like to have changed since you first became our Postgraduate Officer? 

“The biggest thing would be to have a real influence on GTA contracts and the financial pressures that postgraduates face. This is something that the UCU (University and College Union) PG reps also agree on. They want to bring back funded extensions, which I believe would be great. We had funded extensions during Covid but now they’ve removed that since. I feel that if you have extenuating circumstances, the University feels as though you deserve having this extra time towards your degree. Then why don’t you at least get the opportunity to apply for that funding? There is hardship funding for postgraduates however, that is half of the stipend rate and only for three months. I feel like improvements could definitely be done in that area in terms of funding.” 

Is there anything else you’d like to add that perhaps this interview hasn’t covered? 

There is a Postgraduate ‘Society’ that is forming. They’re not yet affiliated with the SU however, students do want to form that. I’d like to see them become SU-affiliated. They have been hosting events like pub quizzes in The Graduate every other Monday. If they were to become a society, it’d be great to work with them.”  


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