My name is Elena Byrne and I am your 2021-22 Postgraduate Officer.
I am a languages student and forever will be, having studied Spanish and Portuguese at undergraduate and now currently studying MRes Arts and Humanities in Spanish.
The Spanish and Portuguese Society was a huge part of my undergraduate experience which was a fantastic way of engaging with other students and the SU and I was society President in final year.
My interests lie in 20th and 21st-century Spain, including the Spanish Civil War, the dictatorship and transition to democracy and the emergence of historical memory since the turning of the century, as well as memory studies and the realm of autobiographies and memoirs.
My top priorities for the year are:
Postgraduate Academic Reps:
Building upon the establishment of the postgraduate academic reps last year, I want to review and solidify the structures of the system to ensure best practise in representation and making sure that every course has a rep and every student knows how to contact their rep.
Establishing more stable, open and collaborative communication structures between academic staff, students and the university is important in ensuring that students are represented as best and as widely as possible at postgraduate level.
Enhancing postgraduate community:
Of similar importance to the academic representation is ensuring that all postgraduates feel welcome, supported and understood.
The postgraduate experience is very individual for all students and so ensuring that there are streams of communication and that students have a network of clearly signposted resources as well as like-minded students is important. So, for example, ensuring that there are working groups of international postgraduate students, parents/carers postgraduate students and disabled postgraduate students, to name but a few.
Encouraging and working with schools to ensure that work will be done to centralise information for all students both in general and specifically in relation to their courses based on continuous student feedback and feedback over the last few years. I believe that a solid, supportive system contributes to a sense of security and positive mental health in relation to the overall student experience.
Fund Our Postgrads:
Continuing to work with UUSU, NUS-USI on the development of the issue of lack of postgraduate funding which has progressed recently.
As well as having made progress with the consultation response, it has created awareness around the financial circumstances of undertaking postgraduate study which I hope to continue to reinforce on the path to also campaigning for maintenance support over the next few years.