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    RUSU to introduce a full-time Postgraduate Education Officer


      <p>This campaign proposes that RUSU introduces a sixth Full-Time Student Officer, the 'Postgraduate Education Officer'. In accordance with this proposal, the current 'Education Officer' would be retitled 'Undergraduate Education Officer'. The two current Part-Time roles of Postgraduate Research Students’ Officer and Postgraduate Taught Students’ Officer would remain in place, and would subsequently report to the Postgraduate Education Officer.</p>
      <p>The Postgraduate Education Officer and Undergraduate Education Officer would share responsibility for the current remit of the 'Education Officer', where it applies to issues affecting both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Both the Postgraduate Education Officer and the Undergraduate Education Officer would sit on the RUSU Trustee Board, as accounted for by point 21.1 of the RUSU Memorandum.</p>
      <p>On issues that either predominantly or exclusively affect postgraduate taught or postgraduate research students, the Postgraduate Education Officer would assume responsibility. In particular, the Postgraduate Education Officer would have a formal, full-time presence as a union representative for PhD students also working as Graduate Teaching Assistants and/or Sessional Lecturers, in any contractual issues, as well as to provide assistance on any other matters that relate specifically to postgraduate issues.</p>
      <p>The current role of Education Officer is a role that officially covers issues affecting both undergraduate and postgraduate students. However this current role is heavily skewed towards undergraduate concerns, and indeed, towards campaign issues that do not necessarily have a great impact on undergraduate students either. The introduction of a Postgraduate Education Officer, alongside a retitled Undergraduate Education Officer, would be immensely beneficial to both groups, and thus to the University population.</p>
      <p>Here's why:</p>

      <b>The Basics</b>
          <li>The current Full-Time Officer roles are predominantly filled by undergraduate students, resulting in far less representation of postgraduate students.</li>
          <li>The lack of representation means less engagement and participation by postgraduate students in RUSU elections and other events.</li>
          <li>The current Education Officer role generalises the 'student experience', meaning particular groups receive less attention than would be possible if the role was split into Postgraduate and Undergraduate Education Officers.</li>
          <li>The introduction of a Postgraduate Education Officer would provide a formal support role to postgraduate students employing in teaching capacities by the University, while also enabling the Undergraduate Education Officer more time to focus on undergraduate issues, therefore benefitting both groups.</li>
      <b>The Details</b>
      <p>Firstly, it is an unavoidable reality that the vast majority of Full-Time student Officers at Reading take up office directly following their undergraduate studies, or even as a year out during their undergraduate years. Few Full-Time Officers take up office following or during taught postgraduate programmes - such as MA or MSc degrees - and even fewer do so as PhD students. As such, it is similarly unavoidable that the focus of current Full-Time Officers ends up being on issues that more clearly affect undergraduates, than on issues that more clearly affect postgraduates, as this focus is merely a byproduct of their own particular experiences and concerns. What this means, however, is a marginalisation of issues that affect postgraduates, and thus, a marginalisation and diminishment of the participation of postgraduate students in democratic processes at Reading and within RUSU.</p>
      <p>Secondly, the broad remit of the current Education Officer role generalises the 'student experience' into a singular, catch-all idea, with reduced capacity for specificity. It requires the Education Officer to be responsible for dealing with issues that they may have less experience or awareness of, while also requiring them to focus on a greater number of issues generally, reducing their effectiveness as well. This not only negatively impacts postgraduate students, but undergraduate students also, as both groups naturally receive less particular attention and consideration, due to the combined nature of the role.</p>
      <p>By introducing a full-time Postgraduate Education Officer, RUSU will offer greater representation and participation for postgraduate students, who currently vote in far smaller numbers than undergraduate students, likely due to their lack of visible representation. This lack of representation is not the fault of the particular current Part-Time PG Research and PG Taught officers, but rather, is due to the limited nature of these roles, and of the current Education Officer role. The two new Full-Time roles of Postgraduate Education Officer and Undergraduate Education Officer would address this issue, and hopefully also cause an increase in overall postgraduate participation with RUSU.</p>
      <p>Finally, and crucially, the introduction of a Postgraduate Education Officer would also allow RUSU to provide genuine, formal support to postgraduate students - primarily PhD students - who are also employed by the University itself as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and/or Sessional Lecturers. While these students are partly represented by UCU - the primary Union for University staff - it is important that RUSU is able to provide greater backing to them also, to reflect their status' as students and staff simultaneously. Currently, RUSU's support is marginal, and is limited by their inability to engage with these issues due to the current Full-TIme Officer roles, and due to a lack of training and engagement with towards contractual matters, and other legal aspects. It would be difficult to pile such elements on the current Education Officer role, given the wide remit the role already includes. However, a new Postgraduate Education Officer would have a narrower remit, and thus, could reasonably provide such support towards students employed by the University.</p>

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