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issue 3: 31st october 2016 news and views from your officers @unionuea uea.su union.info@uea. ac.uk/ueastudentsunion 5 things we spoke to the university about this week amy, theo, joe, maddie and jo your SU full time officers >> Each week, your officers take your issues, suggestions and ideas to the University. In the past few days, Theo Antoniou-Philips (Undergraduate Education Officer) and Maddie Colledge (Postgraduate Education Officer) have been fighting for your academic interests. Here’s a roundup of what they said. 1. The University should introduce mid-module evaluation Each student should be given the opportunity to formally provide anonymous feedback mid-way through a module. Though this couldn’t be used to implement big changes, something like more frequent breaks or covering a topic in more detail would go a long way to improving the student experience. 2. We need facilities for the 21st century One of the main pieces of feedback from peer-reviewed lectures is that the facilities students are being taught in are not a d e q u a t e . S t u d e n t s have been left sitting on the floor in lectures, or they are not given proper r e s o u r c e s . This is entirely unacceptable, and Maddie will be following this up in the upcoming ‘Learning and Teaching Spaces Group’. 3. Library Changes need to be implemented in time for Christmas Overcrowding in the library is an ongoing issue, and uea|su want to ensure measures to deal with this are in place in time for the winter c o u r s e w o r k period. At the Information, Strategy and S e r v i c e s Committee this week, the University stated that s t u d e n t s should be seeing more plug sockets available for laptops, and more rolling stacks to create more space, in place before Christmas. 4. Students voices need to be heard at every level We’re fighting to get more space for students within the Student Affairs Group. If a group is meeting to discuss student affairs, such as fighting sexual harassment on campus, students should have appropriate representation at the meeting. 5. Changes to Personal and Professional Development A report on student response to the postgraduate Personal and Professional Development (PPD) system was presented to the PGR Executive this week. The overwhelming feedback was that postgraduates felt like the system was outdated and didn’t help them prepare for post-doctoral work in the ways they wanted. This report, supported by Maddie, will hopefully pressure the system to become a more useful programme. fighting for the academic interests of integrated master’s students maddie colledge SU postgraduate education officer >> This year, we’ve had increasing number of students making complaints about the lack of support on integrated master’s courses. Integrated master’s courses are four years long. They’re more common in sciences than in arts and humanities, and students sign up for them on their UCAS applications. As an integrated master’s student, you spend three years as an undergraduate, and your fourth year as a postgraduate, and graduate with an MA or MSc. There are currently over 200 integrated master’s students studying at UEA, and most of them are on courses such as MPharm, MChem, or MNatSci. When integrated master’s students are in their master’s year they’re just given the same support as they were as undergraduates. They are rarely supported in the transition period, and aren’t given the provisions and guidance they need for this higher level of study. At the moment, integrated master’s students are… - Asked to pay tuition fees rates of £9000 per year, instead of the lower fees offered to postgraduate students (such as the £7,300 for MSc Environmental Sciences) - Not given rights to postgraduate study spaces in the library - Only allowed to take books out of the library for 2 weeks, not 6 weeks like other postgraduates - Often not invited to induction weeks for masters students. This is a missed opportunity to meet new students and find out about the support available to students on masters courses As Postgraduate Education Officer, I represent the academic interests of integrated master’s students. I am demanding that the university steps up and give these students the support they need, and that all students completing a master’s year are treated fairly. If you’re an integrated master’s student, and you want to share your experiences, complaints or ideas, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. students are turning to sex work, we need to protect their rights jo swo SU welfare, community and diversity officer >> An increasing number of students are turning to sex work in order to fund their studies. I want to work with uea|su to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure these students are safe in their work, and, at the same time, I want to destigmatise sex work and raise awareness of the issues these students face. “Next week, we’re holding Sex Workers’ Rights Awareness Week at uea|su.” Students and Sex Work In the last year, the National Union of Students (NUS) worked with the English Collective of Prostitutes to gather information about student sex workers. Out of all the student sex workers they surveyed, they found that 67% of them were motivated to go into the sex work industry to help to pay for costs of University. What is sex work? Sex work is the provision of sexual services for goods or money. In England and Wales sex work is not illegal, but a number of laws criminalise activities around it. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence to cause or incite ‘prostitution’ or control it for personal gain. Supporting the Decriminalisation of Sex Work By the decriminalisation of sex work, I mean the removal of laws and policies criminalising sex work. I’m using the term ‘sex work’ only for consensual exchanges between adults. Decriminalising sex work does not mean the removal of laws that criminalise exploitation, human trafficking or violence against sex workers. These laws need to be strengthened. “An increasing number of students are turning to sex work in order to fund their studies.” Decriminalising sex work will actually make exploitation, human trafficking and violence easier to combat. At the moment, victims of these acts are often reluctant to come forward because they’re afraid the police will take action against them for selling sex, or their families for ‘living off the proceeds’ of prostitution, rather than prosecuting their perpetrator. Sex Workers’ Rights Awareness Week Next week, we’re holding Sex Workers’ Rights Awareness Week at uea|su. From talks with Toni Mac, activist with Sex Worker Open University (SWOU), to Bake Sales with UEA Amnesty, there’s going to be loads going on. To find out more, head to the SU website. students report lack of teaching space theo antoniou-phillips SU undergraduate education officer >> With students sitting on floors during lectures, and not having a desk during seminars, it is clear that UEA needs to start measuring how suitable some of their rooms are for teaching. Last year students faced a nightmarish timetabling situation, with un-roomed events and technical problems, UEA new it had to timetable teaching more effectively. Going into this year we (me and Maddie, Postgraduate Education Officer) were assured that the situation had improved, and with un-roomed events being significantly reduced and students receiving their timetables in time, it appeared that timetabling was looking promising. However, after speaking to students, the removal of the temporary teaching space of ‘CD Annex’ and the increase of student numbers have begun to highlight how unsuitable some of the timetabled rooms are for teaching. Lectures that last hours long are filled with students sitting on the floor, seminars take place with faulty technology and not enough tables or chairs, a n d students rushing from Edith Cavell by the hospital back to the main campus with not enough time to do it in. Another sign that they are failing to deal with the problem is the encroaching teaching on Wednesday afternoons, which was supposed to be protected time for society and sports club events. UEA students are also being timetabled for teaching beyond working hours, with some seminars lasting u n t i l 8pm. T h e situation is unfair for students and their own teaching staff. Unfortunately, UEA continues to only measure un-roomed teaching events, meaning they claim that timetabling is no longer a problem. They haven’t thought if those teaching events are in rooms that actually allow for quality teaching. Telling us that the new building will be ready by 2019 to help isn’t good enough. We are calling on the university to invest in a temporary building for teaching to help relieve the pressure of teaching events until the new building is ready in 2019, and start properly recording which events are in unsuitable rooms so that they can measure, learn, and improve for the future. We also continue to argue that they should have effectively analysed if their infrastructure could deal with an increase in student numbers. UEA should consider whether their campus can deal with even larger student body, because this situation around timetabling is only set to get worse. 5 reasons to start your business at uea joe zilch SU activities and opportunities officer >> As Activities and Opportunities Officer, I’m here to support students who want to start their own business. And with Global Entrepreneurship Week just around the corner (17- 24 November), I want to tell you why now, at UEA, is the best time to start your business. 1. resource galore We’ve got your back. On uea. su, we’ve listed the most useful online resources available to entrepreneurs, and a list of places you can go to get started. EnterpriseCentral can also help you with planning, market research and finding funding for your idea. 2. uea|su pop-up markets SU pop-up markets are a great chance for students and alumni to sell their products in The Hive and LCR! Our next one is going to be held on 17 November, and you can sign up for a stall here, or email the uea|su Student Events Coordinator, Aden Fry, at aden. email@example.com to get involved. 3. Students It sounds obvious, but other students are the best resource you have. At the moment, y o u ’ r e surrounded by people from all over the country who are just as ambitious as you are – but who likely have skills you lack. Talk to other students, get involved in events, or join the UEA Entrepreneurship Society and build your network. 4. It’ll never be ‘the right time’ It’s a cliché to say ‘if we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of o u r lives’ – but it’s t r u e . Between deadlines, a part time job, and a social life, if might seem like this is the worst time to start something, but you’re likely to be as responsibility-free now as you’ll ever be. 5. Get real experience You might not want to work for yourself forever – and with the graduate jobs market getting more and more competitive, real experience will stand out. Starting-up your own thing while at Uni (even if it doesn’t work!) will give you much more hands- on experience than making tea and photocopies for a week in a London office. We need entrepreneurs. It might feel like the ambition is being squeezed out of us by rising student debt and the political situation in the UK, but enterprise is one of the ways we can take charge of our own situation. If you want to get involved, but don’t know where to start, head to uea.su/opportunities or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org bridges within the postgrad community maddie colledge SU postgraduate education officer >> Postgraduate taught courses are facing breaking point. Across the country, taught courses are being cut and replaced with more generalised master’s degrees. Now, at UEA, discussions are underway to reduce the number of master’s degrees on offer in each school, meaning that our postgraduate taught students will miss out on the chance to explore their interests to the same extent. I’m campaigning hard to make sure that for as long as there is a demand for a master’s course, it remains available to students. However, I’m also trying to improve the facilities for PGT students who are already facing these pressures on their courses. I believe that a partial answer to this lies in PGR community. For those who don’t know, postgraduate study is conventionally divided up into two strands – postgraduate taught (PGT) and postgraduate research (PGR). It’s all about whether the majority of your course is based on a mixture of seminar work and research, such as with an MA or MSc, or whether your course is devoted to one large r e s e a r c h p r o j e c t , such as with a PhD, EdD or Masters by Research. I’m trying to facilitate a relationship between these two groups within each school. PGT and PGR students have so much to learn from each other, and at the moment not enough is being done by some schools to create a community between them. In a number of schools, small groups of PGT and PGR students have formed by themselves, and this has proved incredibly valuable. When PGT students come to starting their own independent research projects, PGR students have provided support and guidance, sharing their experiences to help them tackle i s s u e s associated with longer projects, and pointing them to highly specialised resources. In certain schools within Humanities and Social Sciences, public-facing research seminars have provided a space in which postgraduates can discuss their academic interests, and find other students to collaborate with or share research strategies and resources. These have been incredibly successful, and I’m calling on course leaders from every faculty to try and create more events like these. In addition, I’m recommending that course convenors of PGT programmes make an effort to match their PGT students with PGR students, encouraging informal mentoring relationships between students with similar interests. By the PGR community inspiring PGT students to ‘think big’ and do more with their research projects, I believe that taught masters students will start to see that they too can contribute to the research world of their university. This will solidify the position of the taught masters, and help the university see its value. It also has the potential to inspire a new generation of PhD students. united for education, march with us amy rust SU campaigns and democracy officer >> These past few weeks, I’ve been busy organising the UEA involvement in the National Demo and the Activist Academy. It’s important that uea|su continues to be an active students’ union, and that we see demos as part of a longer strategy to get students’ voices heard. The National Demo – ‘United for Education’ The National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU) have organised a mass demonstration in central London on the 19 November. The National Demo has several key aims: - To protest the rise in tuition fees Tuition fees are set to reach £12,000 per year by 2020, meaning that graduates will be leaving university with £50,000+ of debt. This is unacceptable. - To protest the rise in tuition fees in relation to TEF results TEF is the Teaching Excellence Framework, which assesses the quality of University teaching. While we agree that quality checks in Universities are a good idea, we believe the way TEF assesses Universities is inadequate and unfair. A new Higher Education and Research Bill is proposing that Universities which score higher in the TEF are allowed to charge even higher tuition fees to students. We will support NUS and UCU in protesting this. - To unite against racism and xenophobia The demo is representing a call for international solidarity and opposition to all forms of racism and xenophobia. uea|su are providing free transport to London on 19 November. We ask for a £5 deposit to reserve your seat, but this will be returned to you after the event. Activist Academy The Activist Academy is a day of events for students interested in political activism, covering everything from fundraising to protest law. It’ll be held on 2 November, ahead of the National Demo. If you’ve missed this one – don’t worry! We’ll be running more through the year. As your Campaigns and Democracy Officer, I’m calling on students to get involved and to unite against these proposed changes. Demonstrations are a crucial part of campaigning – in our thousands, we will represent a rallying call for free, accessible and quality education across the UK, and demand an end to the marketization of universities. get involved in the monday night project joe zilch SU activities and opportunities officer >> The Monday Night Project started up this term, and it’s time for you to get involved! The Monday Night Project is a new club night at uea|su, where we – for one night a week – hand over the Blue Bar to a society. You pick the music, you pick the DJ, and you run the guest list. The Monday Night Project began when everyone at uea|su realised just how many societies wanted to run their own event. We have such a diverse range of students here at UEA, and we wanted to give you the chance to have a night where your tastes are reflected in the music. So far, UEA Tamil Society have hosted a Gaana Night as part of Black History Month. All night, they played gaana, hip-hop, and Tamil music. The week after, UEA Indian Society hosted a Desi Vibes night, playing Bollywood, bhangra and Afrobeats. Both were great nights, and I can’t wait to see what other societies have in store! As Activities and Opportunities Officer, I’m encouraging every society to get involved in this project. It’s a great chance to fundraise, get some experience organising an event, and get people involved with your society. If you’re a member of a society, and want to run your own night, get in touch with union.info@uea. ac.uk. MONDAY NIGHT PROJECT The Monday Night Project started up this term, and it’s time for you to get involved! The Monday Night Project is a new club night at uea|su, where we – for one night a week – hand over the Blue Bar to a society. to get involved email union.info@uea. ac.uk aught masters students will start to see that they too can contribute to the research world of their university. This will solidify the position of the taught masters, and help the university see its value. It also has the potential to inspire a new generation of PhD students. united for education, march with us amy rust SU campaigns and democracy officer >> These past few weeks, I’ve been busy organising the UEA involvement in the National Demo and the Activist Academy. It’s important that uea|su continues to be an active students’ union, and that we see demos as part of a longer strategy to get students’ voices heard. The National Demo – ‘United for Education’ The National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU) have organised a mass demonstration in central London on the 19 November. The National Demo has several key aims: - To protest the rise in tuition fees Tuition fees are set to reach £12,000 per year by 2020, meaning that graduates will be leaving university with £50,000+ of debt. This is unacceptable. - To protest the rise in tuition fees in relation to TEF results TEF is the Teaching Excellence Framework, which assesses the quality of University teaching. While we agree that quality checks in Universities are a good idea, we believe the way TEF assesses Universities is inadequate and unfair. A new Higher Education and Research Bill is proposing that Universities which score higher in the TEF are allowed to charge even higher tuition fees to students. We will support NUS and UCU in protesting this. - To unite against racism and xenophobia The demo is representing a call for international solidarity and opposition to all forms of racism and xenophobia. uea|su are providing free transport to London on 19 November. We ask for a £5 deposit to reserve your seat, but this will be returned to you after the event. Activist Academy The Activist Academy is a day of events for students interested in political activism, covering everything from fundraising to protest law. It’ll be held on 2 November, ahead of the National Demo. If you’ve missed this one – don’t worry! We’ll be running more through the year. As your Campaigns and Democracy Officer, I’