What happened at Council? 01/03/2021

Last week’s council session was packed with interesting motions brought by members. The first motion brought to the meeting asked Council to mandate the GSA to lobby the university for tuition fee refunds for the 20/21 academic year due to the negative impact of Covid-19 lockdown measures on the university experience. One council member spoke against the motion and asked for greater context to be added which better explained and criticised the marketisation of higher education in the UK. After much debate, the motion was amended to clarify that it asked the GSA to campaign for a flat-rate refund for all students impacted by Covid-19 measures and was passed after being put to vote.

The second motion heard by Council sought to mandate the GSA to provide resources to student-led volunteering projects. The need for these projects to be flexible was stressed by council members, as postgraduate students often have lots of time commitments which can impact on their ability to volunteer. The motion was passed.

The third motion of the evening asked Council to ratify the Academic Representation Bylaw. Proposed changes were agreed upon following a period of consultation with academic representatives from across the university. The motion passed and the bylaw was ratified.

The fourth motion asked the GSA to campaign for better tutor access for postgraduate students on online-only MSc courses. These students currently only have asynchronous access to staff, but academic representatives believe it would benefit students to have the option of synchronous access too. The motion was amended after a clarification that the GSA does not have power to amend university staff contracts, and the amended motion passed.

The final motion of the evening referred to campaigns for increased funding for humanities research. The motion stressed the need for well-funded research in arts and humanities faculties, which is currently the target of funding cuts due to political pressure driving universities towards the creation of a knowledge economy. The motion sought to emphasise the value of arts and humanities research and was amended to also include social sciences research after concerns were raised about the lack of funding available within those faculties. The amended motion passed.

In Any Other Business, it was noted that the GSA is looking to recruit for an elections committee and for more scrutiny officers to sit on the accountability panel. Please get in touch if you are interested in any of these roles!

16th March 2021