Written by Fatima Abbas, PhD Candidate, MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology
As a PhD student it can be daunting thinking about taking on anything involving time and work that isn’t related to your own very particular research interests. There’s a constant pressure to devote three to four years of your life to your research and not much else. Having spent the past year as a postgraduate research student representative on the KCLSU student council, I can honestly say that the time I spent at meetings, working with the student union and committees has been both worthwhile and enlightening.
There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on for all PhD and research degree programmes, having the opportunity to see this, and also feed into these decisions with the experiences of myself and fellow students, has been fantastic. The student union and all staff members I’ve encountered have been encouraging, listened to all my suggestions and opinions, and actively asked for what PGR students think and want. Not only have I been helped and encouraged, I’ve also found it surprisingly easy to fit these meetings and activities around my own very busy schedule.
This role has opened up my eyes to how important it is for PGR students to take part in student union representation and activities. I urge you all to consider nominating yourself for representation, either within your department or in KCLSU. You’ll learn a lot about the policy and decision making processes that directly affect you and your departments, have a voice on matters that concern you, but also gain invaluable skills such as effective communication. It has been an interesting and meaningful experience for me, and throughout I’ve received so much help from all involved (whom I’d like to thank), but also hope to have helped fellow students in the process.