Postgraduate experience debate: what he said
Image courtesy of: Kent Television
The second debating session for Kent Union’s Leadership Elections saw, on 13 February, the debate for the Vice-president of Postgraduate Experience.
Running unopposed, Patrick Stillman submitted himself to what was more of an interview than an actual debate.
Patrick opened by listing his academic and professional experiences.
He highlighted his reasons for running, firstly for representing and supporting postgraduates - both masters students and research and teaching postgraduate students.
He also mentioned wanting to include more postgraduate-specific events, as well as more support and training for teaching postgraduates.
Finance was also touched on during his opening address. Patrick mentioned supporting the UCU strike, due to financial difficulties brought up by postgraduate students.
When asked about postgraduate students’ biggest issues, Patrick brought up loneliness. Patrick argued that this was why he pledged in his manifesto to run more postgraduate-specific events, between various schools, to create more of a community for students.
Pay and working conditions also came up as postgraduate-specific issues. Patrick mentioned overworking and financial difficulties, especially in the larger context of the ongoing UCU strikes.
To Patrick, the needs of undergraduate and postgraduate students are important, but every students’ needs are different.
Differences between undergraduate and postgraduate students exist to him, but similarities exist as well and should not be overlooked.
Patrick mentioned a previous breaking of trust between postgraduate students and Kent Union, regarding Kent Union’s lack of involvement in the 2018 trikes, specifically. He stated that it was important to work on re-building that trust between the Union and postgraduate students.
The interviewer then mentioned Patrick’s manifesto point about connecting postgraduate students with the overall body of students.
He highlighted that postgraduate students are different to undergraduate students but should be involved within the student body, by working to increase the way undergraduates relate to postgraduates, beyond them being their teachers, but as fellow students.
Patrick also mentioned wanting to set up a communication system between undergraduate and postgraduate students, to share experience and help each other in their academic progression.
Regarding students demanding compensation for the two strike actions the university saw during the 2019/2020 academic year, Patrick mentioned the issue was part of a larger debate of marketization of universities.
While he said he understood the need to get compensation, he stressed that this conversation shifts the debate away from the actual issue, pitching students against students.
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