Peter Donnelly, Editor

In the run up to the Student Union Elections, taking place from Monday 1st March 2021, The Gown is featuring candidates who are running for student office in the Queen’s University Student Union Elections, for the next 2021-2022 academic year.

As Editor, of The Gown I am delighted to introduce Elena Byrne to this series of 2021 Student Election Candidate Elena has written an extensive outline of objectives she hopes to achieve if she becomes the 2021-2022 Postgraduate Officer.

Hello! My name is Elena Byrne and I am running to be your next Postgraduate Officer.

I am an MRes Arts and Humanities student and my research discipline in Spanish focuses on memory and the Spanish Civil War.

I’m also currently the part-time Postgraduate Officer and I work as a community assistant in the Graduate School, so I feel well-engrained in postgraduate life at Queen’s. This, coupled with my involvement with the SU throughout my undergrad, has encouraged me to run for election.

Elena Byrne is running for the office of Postgraduate Officer in the 2021 QUB Student Union Elections.

I want to work with students for students in order to shape the student experience for the better. Postgraduate study, both at taught and research level, is a demanding journey for all students regardless of their personal circumstances.

My overall aim is to help this become more manageable by supporting students in their experience through taking action on the key points of my manifesto: Postgraduate Funding; Developing support for degree transitions; Postgraduate Mental Health; and Supporting Postgraduate student from minority groups.

All postgraduate students should be entitled to accessible education which means that a sufficient postgraduate tuition fee loan should be in place so that students are not left out of pocket and financially disadvantaged. Postgraduate study is hugely demanding both academically and personally for many and the demands of a PGT or PGR degree mean that often personal and social sacrifices are made at the expense of students’ wellbeing.

By reviewing and reforming key areas such as adequate support for all students and especially for those who identify as belonging to groups such as: part-time; international; students who have disabilities or caring responsibilities, I want to ensure that they have the support that they need both from the SU and the university as a collaborative effort. This way, any issues that they face can be identified and brought up for review and taken action upon in relation to their own situations.

We have to remember that ‘postgraduate’ is an umbrella term that encapsulates a huge variety of students from many different backgrounds.

Finally, I would hope to make a big effort to review the transition processes from both UG to PG and PGT to PGR to ensure that incoming/progressing students are comfortable and well-informed in relation to the academic, and in many cases, personal, changes that they are about to experience. The security of a well-established support system would hopefully also contribute to an increase in positive mental health around academic/personal issues that students may face.

If elected, I promise to uphold my policies for the benefit of postgraduates by working hard to ensure that action is put in place to see these underway (and in some cases, resolved).

You can find my full manifesto on the SU elections candidates page on qubsu.org; my Facebook: Vote Elena for Postgrad; my Instagram: voteelena4postgrad and Twitter @elenambyrne

The Gown invites all candidates standing for election this year to contact us in order to be given a platform to unveil their campaign objectives and pledges. Given the current public health circumstances, in which we all find ourselves, it is these times that homegrown, student-led societies, such as The Gown, are an invaluable tool for spreading the student voice.

A full list of candidates are available on the Queen’s University Student Union website, here.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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