Since my last report, we have now been in lockdown for the entire month of April. It has been a really strange time for us all and I would like to use this space to update you on; University communications, the continued running of the KPA and the online commitment we have made to our students. We have been working hard to ensure that we are still delivering our service to you in the best way that we can, in light of social distancing measures. We appreciate all of your feedback, and will continue to represent the postgraduate voice at senior levels within the University. We hear you. I would like to continue to offer my support wherever I can, to those who are anxious, isolated or worried about their academic status, in light of recent events.
The KPA Elections 2020...
As many of you will be aware, we managed to continue our KPA Elections online this year! We had a record number of candidates standing for elected positions, 17 postgraduate students in total. This was one of our most engaging elections, with the highest voter turnout we have ever seen here at the KPA. I wanted to say a huge thank you to all candidates who stood for our elected officer positions. It was fantastic to see so many postgraduates wanting to engage in our student union and make such promising change through their manifesto pledges. Running for an elected position and campaigning is by no means an easy task, so I wanted to congratulate each candidate on their fantastic efforts to engage our postgraduate audience.
Our Chief Returning Officer and Deputy Returning Officer quickly grasped what online systems needed to be used, in order to democratically host our candidates' briefing and hustings event. Whilst we anticipated some hiccups in moving this all online, both meetings were delivered successfully in the end. Hustings was hosted on MS Teams, giving all candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves and their manifesto pledges, as well as take questions from the wider postgraduate audience. The only issue that arose was a technical difficulty involved with one candidate's microphone. Despite this, the candidate was able to produce a video, which was uploaded to our website alongside the recorded hustings event.
Voting opened on the 22nd of April at 7pm and closed on the 24th of April at 5pm. Results were announced online by our Chief Returning Officer and Deputy Returning Officer at 7pm. The results were as follows:
President - Katie Charlton
Vice President - Parker Robinson
Association Secretary - Atieme Ogbolosingha
Equality and Diversity Officer - Dzifa Blagogee
International Officer - Bettina Keleman
Student Trustee - Sophia Taha
You can find a full break down of the results at the following address: https://www.kpa.org.uk/elections
Congratulations to all elected officers! I look forward to working with you all this coming year! Handover begins on the 1st of June 2020, with your elected officers taking their official positions on the 1st of July 2020. Please join me in welcoming them to the KPA community.
I would also like to say a huge thank you to our Chief Returning officer, Alison and Deputy Returning Officer, Currie, who worked tirelessly to ensure that the election was carried out successfully and democratically. Your hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed.
We have been asking for your feedback on University Communications regarding both PGR and PGT guidelines. This feedback can be presented to the senior management team and will enable us to raise concerns in both Research Committee Meetings and Education Committee Meetings.
For PGR students, guidelines were provided by an email from the Vice-Chancellor on Thursday 23rd of April. Since then, the KPA and PGR reps have been working together to share feedback from PGR students. We understand frustrations and will be doing everything we can to iron out any anxieties surrounding the communications. We thank you for your feedback, which will be shared directly with the research committee and senior leadership team. We will be working in partnership with the Keele Doctoral Academy to ensure that any individual student issues can be rectified. If you have any concerns relating to academic work and your PDLP, please get in contact with the Keele Doctoral Academy. We are also looking at ways in which hardship funds can be used by the postgraduate body during this unprecedented time.
For PGT students, we are still pushing for further guidance on extensions and what that will mean for our students. Our Vice President regularly reports concerns at education leadership group, who should be able to provide more clarity on the extension system shortly. We are aware that these extensions are likely to cause a number of issues to our students, whether it be wellbeing concerns, financial issues, or academic stress. We will be looking at ways that the hardship fund can be utilised by the postgraduate body and will be working alongside student services to provide more wellbeing support, to those feeling isolated and distant from their studies.
Please let us know if you have further concerns. It is crucial that we hear as many postgraduate voices as possible, so that we are providing support for the many and not just the few. These concerns are being dealt with currently by our Vice President, who is contactable at email@example.com.
Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year Awards...
Nominations are NOW OPEN! The Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year Awards is an annual award recognising the overall excellence of a member of the postgraduate community at Keele University. The award recognises a student's excellent pursuits - not just in their academic work but also their work within the postgraduate community, encouraging it's members to strive for excellence. The first prize is an award of £500, with up to 5 highly commended prizes of £100 each. This year, all physical celebrations will not take place due to COVID-19. We will instead be accepting all nominations online and all awardees will be notified of their prize by email. Nominations will close on the 13th of May, so make sure you get thinking about a postgraduate student who has gone above and beyond! You can find nominations Ts&Cs and guidance notes on our website: https://www.kpa.org.uk/bob-beattie-awards. If you have any questions, please get in touch with Alison Tansey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our commitment to moving online...
We have been trying to provide you with as many online events as we can since social distancing measures were implemented. I believe this is a new space for all, so myself and the committee have been meeting regularly to ensure we are providing new, exciting and inclusive options for online activities.
On a weekly basis, we are still hosting our coffee morning via google hangouts. This has been a fantastic outlet for our students to take a break, come together and share their experiences of study and working from home in self isolation. We will be introducing an Afternoon Tea with the KPA next week! These will be held on Tuesday afternoons where we encourage you to join with your family and pets. It is an alternative space that we can provide you if you cannot attend our coffee mornings on Thursdays. We will be advertising this week, so look out on our social media channels! We will also continue to host our Netflix Watch Party Wednesdays for you to get involved with. Every Sunday, we encourage you to check in with Jaime Hibbert on facebook, where you can access a free workout! These take place at 10am every Sunday morning - but don't worry if you miss it, you can access the free workout videos via her YouTube channel too! We also hosted a Clubhouse virtual night out, which was a fantastic opportunity for our students and regular clientele to come together with staff and enjoy their KPA Friday Night Out. You can also find our KPA SelfLove Quarantine Playlist on spotify, that has been created by your committee and clubhouse staff! Give us a follow!
We have been working with the committee to cement some new ideas going forward. We will be hosting virtual KPA Evening's to the Theatre, Ballet and Opera as well as some further options to inspire creativity in film festivals and photo competitions. Look out on our social media for further updates and calendar dates!
We have also ensured that you have a space to share experiences and concerns that you have, by setting up an online forum. This can be found at our website and has already been a fantastic space for our students to share daily lived experiences in self isolation. To access the forum, please click on the following link: https://www.kpa.org.uk/forum
Instead of our Weekly Digest, we are providing a Weekly Roundup for you, every Friday, in the form of a video. This video is posted on our website for your access. We invite a different committee member every week to share their thoughts in isolation, update you on university communications and to share the work that the KPA are doing. Please check in with this video, as it provides updates and inspiration for activities in self isolation. It is also a chance for us to let you know that we are still a friendly face that is here to support you. Our work does not stop at COVID-19.
We continue to post regular updates on our website's homepage, so please do make sure you are regularly checking in. We want you to know that we are still here and are still working on behalf of our postgraduate membership.
We are also still ensuring that we are meeting regularly as a committee and trustee board to maintain our postgraduate student union. An awful lot of work has been carried out to ensure that your students' union is still running correctly behind the scenes. The sheer dedication and choices made by our staff, to ensure that the KPA can continue to work on behalf of our student body, I hope will be reflected now and when we are able to meet again, in the not too distant future.
I am delighted to be able to congratulate some of our fantastic postgraduates during COVID-19:
Congratulations to Aimee Merrydew who has been awarded a Keele Excellence Award in Learning and Teaching! In addition to this, Aimee has also had her first external journal article published!
Congratulations to all our fantastic postgraduate students that ran for elected positions in our KPA Elections. You all had brilliant ideas to better the experience of postgraduate students at Keele University, which was so inspiring.
Congratulations to all of our students that are coping so well in the midst of this uncertain time. I want to say that everyone is doing so well to support and care for one another, and it really is a pleasure to see. Congratulations to all those students who may have; caring responsibilities, an underlying health or mental health problem, a disability, lack of equipment to work, (the list goes on!) who are battling through this challenging time. We are all here to support you and think that you are all doing a great job just to get out of bed in the morning and push yourselves to work through the day.
If you need any further support, please do not be afraid to get in touch. Even if it is just a 2 minute chat on the phone, we WANT to hear from you! No question is a silly one, if you have concerns please do let us know.
We really do look forward to seeing you in the not too distant future, when the state of things will look better and clearer. We will continue to work online to provide new activities, support and advice for you all to maintain our close postgraduate community.
We are here for you.
Sending all of my thoughts, prayers and best wishes to you and your families.