Monday's Council is to vote on changes to the constitution which will see the GSA become the sole representative body for Postgraduate Students at Imperial College. In a paper proposed by the Deputy President (Education and Welfare) and seconded by the Representation and Welfare Board drastic changes are proposed to the way in which Postgraduate Students will be represented in the future.
The changes will see the role of Academic Affairs Officer (Research) removed from Faculty Unions and five new positions created in the Graduate Student Association (GSA). These positions will report to the GSA Chair, Rhys Morgan, and will be representatives on the appropriate Graduate School Committees. This could be a major breath of life to the GSA which has had it's fair share of problems over the last few years. The positions that have been created are:
- Engineering Postgraduate Representative
- Physical Sciences Postgraduate Representative
- Business School Postgraduate Representative
- Medical School Postgraduate Representative
- Life Sciences Postgraduate Representative
Currently Postgraduate representation is both the responsibility of the GSA and the Faculty Unions with each Faculty organising their representation differently. The proposals have arisen after discussions between the DPEW and the Faculty Union Presidents who were all keen to address places where they thought Postgraduate Students were falling through the gaps. There were two areas of high concern which these proposals try to address. The first of these is the ICSMSU, who have very little contact with their Postgraduate Students is predominatly organised to cater for Undergraduate Medics and often fail to find any Postgraduate Reps to sit on the Graduate School Committees. The second issue was with regards to Masters students in general, who are supposed to be represented through an Academic Affairs Officer (Taught), a role which is predominatly undertaken by an undergraduate student.
Postgraduate Representatives speaking to Live! have expressed concerns with the proposals but DPEW Hannah Theodorou seems confident that the changes will be approved having advertised them in her section in Felix, out today. One cause of contention is that representation of Masters Students should not be separated from Undergraduates who could be sharing the same lectures and have similar academic and welfare issues but different representatives. Live! is also concerned that no clarification appears in the paper as to where Postgraduates will stand in terms of the none representative roles in the Faculty Unions. Many Officers and Colours winners in the Faculty Unions have held position while studying on a postgraduate course and it would be a significant loss if these students were no longer eligible to stand or participate in their Faculty Union activities.