Emily Madalena provides some short analysis on the candidates and their manifestos
The Postgraduate Students’ Officer’s job is about making postgraduate students, such as myself, feel like we are a part of the UCL community. Not only does he or she coordinate the Postgraduate Associate’s activities, support its part-time officers, and have oversight of finances, the officer acts as a representative for the postgraduate populace. He or she works to provide us with a positive postgraduate experience, both inside and out of university.
As crucial as it is to have representation for the postgraduates, as we make up 46% of the 30,551 students attending UCL, the duties for the role are rather vague and leave a great deal of room for interpretation.
All three candidates for the role (Kay Tabernacle, Ayooluwa Olateju, and Saguna Nair) offer basic and, frankly, uncreative improvements to postgraduate life. Such offerings include vague and unquantifiable changes such as “improving engagement in the union”, “[finding] out what Postgraduate students really want us to spend their money on – inside and outside UCL”, and “[organizing] activities that are postgraduate specific, uniting several faculties and will EMPOWER, BOOST AND MAKE US READY FOR LIFE POSTSTUDY”.
As lovely as it is to have candidates advocating for change, their proposed changes lack focus and, consequently, lack feasibility for attainment.
After parsing through the fluffy promises that every candidate makes with all the right intentions, one can detect instances of individuality and promise in each of the candidates.
Kay, for example, offers changes in the non-academic side to university life. He pledges to “provide resources and support for action on late stipend payments, inadequate child-care provision and poor academic facilities”, and “campaign on grass-roots student initiatives against tuition fees, cuts to public services and the privatisation of student loans”. Postgraduates often have the challenge of being not just a student while they study, but also a parent, a debt-holder, a job-pursuer, an activist, or even all of the above, making these pledges important to many, if not most, of us.
Ayooluwa, meanwhile, advocates for “more UCL POST-STUDY EMPLOYMENTS / INTERNSHIPS to ease the post-study immigration bottle neck imposed on us after paying ridiculously high fees [which she advocates lowering]”. Postgraduates, if they do not plan on entering academia, often struggle to find jobs post-graduation, Ayooluwa’s plan is to help change this.
Finally, Saguna’s key strengh is her leadership experience. As she already represents 8,000 students in position as the current president of IOESU, she clearly has experience handling budgets and representing the interest of international students; it also simply shows that she knows how to take charge. Her goals have less focus than Ayooluwa and Kay, but her prior experience in leadership might make up for the discrepancy.
Postgraduates, it’s up to you to decide how you want to be represented. It’s ultimately what you feel is most important to your educational experience. Vote your conscience.
A full list of the candidates can be found here.
Voting closes at 10am Thursday 5th March, and you can vote here.