I'm David, a PhD Mathematician, SU Trustee and College SU Representative, and former Postgraduate President and JCR Treasurer at Josephine Butler. Over 8 years I've had successes including persuading the University to link accommodation fee increases to inflation, securing a 9% increase in University funding for JCRs and MCRs, and giving representational rights to presessional postgraduates at my college.
I'd love to take this further and work full-time as Postgraduate Academic Officer to improve students' lives – if elected, my three key areas of work will be:
Postgraduate Teaching Conditions
I will fight for an across-the-board payrise for hourly paid teaching work; review teaching work allocation processes to ensure fairness; and lobby for contracts that pay for actual time spent on teaching activity.
The hourly pay for postgraduates who teach at Durham has not changed in 10 years. Additionally, many postgraduates are paid for fewer hours than they actually spend teaching or marking. Postgraduates deserve better, and fair treatment ensures we can teach effectively.
Reliable, Accessible Accommodation
I will lobby for a rent guarantor scheme that works for postgraduates; implement support for students arranging accommodation in Durham prior to arrival; and lobby for more flexible University accommodation contracts.
Security of accommodation is vital to supporting students' ability to study. Many postgraduates study one-year courses and need to arrange accommodation before even seeing Durham – we should support them in finding good landlords.
Postgraduate Supervision and Support
I will work on best practice guidelines for postgraduate supervision; review study and office space availability for postgraduates; and lobby for better-resourced pastoral support for postgraduates.
I know students who left the University over disagreements with their supervisors or left as the University failed to support them through mental illness. Better facilities and practices will give postgraduates the best opportunities to succeed.