Presidential Monthly Report (May)

Dear Postgrads, 


Since my last report, we have seen some slight adjustments on 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, 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.  University Communications... 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. Having spoken to senior management and the Keele Doctoral Academy about concerns raised, we have created a document which has been published on our website, with answers to the questions and concerns that we raised. This can be found at the following address: https://www.kpa.org.uk/faqs. A feedback form has also been added in case your questions have not been answered. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any further questions. It is worth noting that in the first instance, you will need to get in touch with your supervisor regarding any extensions. We are told that PDLP forms have now been updated. If you have any issues with this, please do let us know.  For PGT students, in light of COVID-19, the University is offering extensions of 3,6,9 or 12 months. A PGT specific FAQ document has also been published on our website for you. If your questions have not been answered, please fill in the feedback form on the website. Both can be found at: https://www.kpa.org.uk/faqs. If you are struggling financially, the University is actively encouraging you to apply to the hardship fund. The form has been simplified and can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdJCjawZvdu4zsmjoGtJpZAdmPGSMF6GlkXU3EocAQigPxS9g/viewform On Friday 29th of May, the Vice Chancellor announced the University's roadmap plans for Keele campus going forward. This information was circulated to your staff or student inboxes. The KPA and KeeleSU urge you, that if you have any questions about the roadmap, please let us know. We can then feedback these concerns directly to the University's senior management team.  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 kpa.vp@keele.ac.uk So what has the KPA been up to? Annual General Meeting... The KPA held it's Annual General Meeting virtually this year! We also asked members of the postgraduate community to endorse our financial accounts online too. The meeting was held via MS Teams on 28th of May 2020. Here, the KPA full time and part time officers were able to give postgraduates a verbal update on their activities throughout 2019/2020. It was a space where postgraduates could offer feedback to officers and ask any questions they had on support and potential issues. We received no motion submissions this time around, so opened up the floor for any postgraduates to ask questions about the situation in light of COVID-19, and what could be expected from officers going forward. The general meeting was recorded and posted on our website and social media channels in case you missed it! The video can be found here: https://www.kpa.org.uk/general-meetings . Please do let us know if you had any follow up comments or questions about officer reports! Minutes will be posted on our website from the meeting in due course. Thank you to our wonderful Student Trustee, Amy, who chaired the meeting fantastically! Thank you also to our outgoing officers, as this would have been their last general meeting. The dedication and commitment to your roles has been fantastic this year.  Events... The KPA has 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 will be hosting these events bi-weekly and will be posting all promotional material in advance via our social media and mailing list! Keep an eye out on our website for the date of our next theatre trip!  We have also trialled Postgrads that Lunch online! We will be working to ensure that we provide you with a themed postgrads that lunch every two weeks. We will release more information on our website and social media channels beforehand! This is a space for you to take some time out of your day to appreciate your lunch break with other postgraduate students. We will circulate a meeting link prior to the event via our mailing list.  We have updated our website with our regular virtual events, which can be found here: https://www.kpa.org.uk/weekly-events. Things to look our for are: KPA nights to the opera and ballet as well as virtual writing retreats! We have also updated the website to provide you with information on specialist support services here at Keele. This includes the "PhD during a Pandemic guide" and the KPA's "Hey, it's OK" campaign, which can be found at the following address: https://www.kpa.org.uk/support Handover 2020... Currently, your new Vice President, Parker Robinson is completing his full months worth of handover training with myself and outgoing VP, Currie Agyeman. All new officers are being inducted and will officially start in their new positions on the 1st of July, 2020. We have a full program of training for our full time sabbatical officer and will be inducting our part time and voluntary officers by meeting with them every week. I have also created a full handover guide for our new officers to explain both KPA and University structures.  Congratulations to all new officers on being elected to your positions! I look forward to working with you all this coming year! Thank you so much to all of our outgoing officers who really have worked hard this year to ensure that the KPA is an inclusive place for all postgraduate students. Some of the events we have seen have been fantastic and really have encouraged postgraduates to engage with the KPA. Thank you for all your hard work - I will miss you all.  Congratulations... I am delighted to be able to congratulate some of our fantastic postgraduates during COVID-19: Congratulations to Stuart Taylor, who has completed his PhD! What a fantastic achievement. 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!  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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