Student Reps Meeting – 16 Nov 2021

Summary of items discussed

MRes year

Positive feedback from those on the MRes programme, optional modules were well organised. Those on the 1+3 pathway also felt as if they were missing out on PhD opportunities. SWDTP noted this is because the Masters year is an intense taught programme and fieldwork is much more valuable when students have a clearer vision in later years of study. Students likewise felt it was important to bridge the gap between Masters and PhD.

Induction

Those who attended the induction and the refresher induction found it very helpful and felt more connected to the SWDTP community.

Funding questions

Reps agreed it was useful to keep reminding students of opportunities available to them via email. There is interest in starting with available funding, but a lot don’t know where to start. SWDTP also confirmed placement expenses are capped at £3000, you can apply for a RTSG top up once and most Overseas top ups are allowed as long as you make a robust, sensible case.

Application process

During the application process, students felt as though it needed to be more explicit in why a 1+3 offer was made, not a +3. SWDTP noted that the process is very competitive and the number of applications received makes personalised feedback hard. A rep noted that there is a lot of missing information for international students during the application process and feel as if they have a lot more hoops to jump through.

Placements

It was made clearer that placements go through institution careers networks as well as the SWDTP. The main benefit for SWDTP students is that they have extensions in funding if they do a placement. When asked if placements should be compulsory, students agreed they would like to keep the flexibility and placements don’t fit all students.

Student wellbeing

Exeter reps noted students are feeling isolated due to the pandemic, reps tried to organise a monthly coffee event but few attended. It was suggested trying different times in the day to accommodate for caring and other responsibilities. Reps fed back that in person events were valuable for students feeling less lonely.

Student conference

Good feedback was received from students at Exeter to network and connect, particularly with other institutions. Bath agreed regarding the positive experience at the conference. Some students feel a lack of community across their department and the SWDTP since the pandemic so the conference was very welcomed. All those who attended were pleased with the day.

Student Mentoring Scheme

Training will be completed by mentors, date set for 6 Dec 2021. Reps agreed it may be valuable for those who are isolated or struggling and were happy to promote. Some have utilised the scheme in the past and found it very helpful.

Next meeting

Agreed to travel to Exeter for the next meeting. Reps were keen to combine this with a social and networking event. The next student reps meeting will be a few weeks before the next AAB, date to be confirmed.

Outreach to Plymouth and UWE

A student from University of Plymouth was interested in becoming a rep after talking to a current rep at the student conference which was welcomed by other reps. Other reps agreed to reach out to any students from UWE as they do not have a student representative present.

Training

Students mentioned they found the training events very valuable, in particular the Qualitative Research Methods events. Students liked interactive workshops more than others and mentioned it was useful for legacy materials and content to be uploaded to YouTube.

For further training, reps discussed events on mixed methods, events on careers, workshops on academic vs non-academic CV writing, hearing from SWDTP alumni, and research beyond academia.