Presidential Monthly Report (June)

Dear Postgrads, 


Since my last report, we have seen some adjustments on the UK lockdown from the government, but I am sure you will agree, it continues to be a really strange time for us all. I would like to use this space to update you on; University communications and their plans for re-opening campus in September, 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 postgraduate students at senior levels within the University so that all policy making is carried out with the postgraduate voice in mind. 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 COVID-19.  University Communications... On Friday 29th of May, the Vice Chancellor released the first outline of the University's roadmap plans for campus going forward. Since then, we have received a number of updates, which are now being delivered in video format. On the 19th of June, the Vice Chancellor shared the University's plans to prepare and welcome students for September, which included a break down of; campus services, student support, teaching and academics, research delivery, international recruitment and plans for halls of residence. Since the 19th of June, we have had a further update from the Vice Chancellor, regarding the move from level 4 to level 3 operations on campus. This captured a month by month breakdown of University operations, up to September. The updates have given students guidance on what their education delivery may look like, which largely will take a flexible and digital approach. It has also provided a snapshot of what campus may look like come September time and shows what work is being carried out by all areas of the University to provide students with the best possible experience, given the current circumstances. If you have any questions, concerns or feedback, please do get in touch.   We continue to work alongside both the Keele Doctoral Academy and individual schools to voice concerns of both PGR and PGT students alike. We have created a COVID-19 support section on our website with a list of FAQs for students, which will be constantly updated when we receive further guidelines and information. There is also a feedback form available for you to let us know if you have any further concerns or if your questions haven't been answered. This can be found at the following address: https://www.kpa.org.uk/faqs Our postgraduate specific wellbeing support officer, Toni Karic, has just released her first PG student newsletter in relation to the Office for Students Start to Success project. Here, she has provided a number of resources for students and is encouraging you to speak to her about your experiences as postgrads. This will begin to shape the University's support measures for postgraduate students specifically. A new group has been established, "Postgraduate Student Minds", to provide mental health and wellbeing support. This will be launched on the 8th of July and will be offering regular peer support sessions in the virtual space for all postgraduate students. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with Toni at t.karic@keele.ac.uk.  If you are struggling financially at this time, the University is actively encouraging you to apply for their hardship fund. The COVID-19 version of the application form can be found at the following address: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdJCjawZvdu4zsmjoGtJpZAdmPGSMF6GlkXU3EocAQigPxS9g/viewform Please get in touch with us 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. Virtual Graduation 2020!  The KPA will be working alongside both the University and the SU to deliver all 2020 finalists' virtual graduation celebration! The event will be held online on the 15th of July for all those students graduating this summer. The virtual celebration is by no means a replacement for the physical event, which the University aims to reschedule for 2021, but is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate with their families at home. We are so excited to be working on this and will see you all on the 15th of July to celebrate your successes!  So what has the KPA been up to? Handover... The month of June has been the KPA officers' official handover. Parker Robinson joined us on the 1st of June as your Vice President elect. Currie Agyeman officially stepped down on the 18th of June to continue with his studies at Keele. Thank you for your hard work and efforts Currie over the duration of this year. It truly has been a pleasure to work with you and I wish you the best of luck with all your future endeavors.  On the 1st of July, all KPA voluntary, part time and full time officers will start their term in office! It has been a sad week saying goodbye to our outgoing committee members, who have done some fantastic work this year. It truly is inspirational to see fellow students so dedicated to their work in enhancing the postgraduate community. Some of the events and campaigns that have been run this year could not have been carried out without the sheer dedication of our committee, so thank you. To our incoming committee, it has been a pleasure to see such dedication from you all during handover month! I am so excited to see what can be achieved over the course of the year.  Events... The KPA has continued to host virtual events for our postgraduate community. We have been hosting virtual theatre evenings, which have been brilliant! We live stream the theatre performance via google hangouts, so that all attendees are able to use the chat bar function. We have been hosting these events bi-weekly and post all promotional material in advance via our social media and mailing list! Our next theatre trip is TOMORROW NIGHT, where we will be watching "Much Ado About Nothing", chosen by our postgraduate students! I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow!  We have continued to host our KPA coffee mornings in the virtual space, so that you can check in with us and chat to fellow postgraduates. Whilst we appreciate it is very different to having a physical coffee morning, we hope that it is bringing a sense of community and relieving feelings of isolation. This has been a great space for students to ask us any questions so that we can provide answers or raise issues at senior levels within the University. Our coffee morning's take place between 11 and 12 noon, every Thursday. We circulate a google meets link in advance for you to join us, via our social media and mailing list.  On the 19th of June, we hosted a Language Exchange event, for all students to share their languages, with different break out rooms to practice with one another. This was a fantastic event that we were able to carry out within the virtual space. Thank you to our outgoing and incoming E&D officers, Gabby and Dzifa, who put a lot of hard work into this. Due to it's success, we will be looking to host another Language Exchange for our students!  The KPA committee have been actively participating in the Black Lives Matter "Take the Knee" event, which takes place every Wednesday at 6pm at the Forest of Lights on Keele Campus. The event recognizes and remembers those from the UK's Black community that we have lost due to police brutality. This student led event aims to create a safe space for students to support one another through these times. The event adheres to social distancing measures and is a space for all allies.  The KPA has been working extremely hard to continue to deliver events online. If you have any suggestions, please do get in touch, we would like to hear your thoughts! Please email: kpa.chair@keele.ac.uk.  Congratulations... I am delighted to be able to congratulate some of our fantastic postgraduates during COVID-19: Congratulations to the following students who have just been awarded their PhD: Sam Griffin Luvuyo Zantsi Scott Mahadeo Emma Allen Congratulations to Amy Blaney who has just had her first academic book review published! Congratulations to Laura Carter who has just submitted her first year of PhD work!  Shortly, we will be announcing winners of the Bob Beattie Postgraduate of the Year Awards 2020 - watch out for the announcements via our social media, mailing list and website!  A further 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.  Katie Charlton

(KPA President)


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