Nat PandaPostgraduate Officer

Hi, my name is Nat and I’m your Postgraduate Officer. Whether you make up the nearly 50% of the student body who is a postgraduate or you are looking to advance to postgrad study, I am here for you!

As postgrads, whether research or taught, you form a vital part of our vibrant and diverse community: as students, teachers, members of sports clubs and societies, as inspirational figures and as friends. Warwick is one of only 7 students’ unions in the country with a Postgraduate Sabbatical Officer – the SU really cares for all postgraduates and always strives to improve the representation you receive, so all your feedback and involvement is really important.

My job is to make sure that the postgraduate voice gets heard, and I will fight to make sure that you have the best experience you can at Warwick. Feel free to get in touch - I wish you the best for the year ahead!

Contact Nat

The Postgraduate Officer's office is on the top floor of SUHQ.

Nat's Latest Blog

Find all of Nat's blog posts on his blog page.

  • Tue 01 Dec 2015 13:12

    Spending Review – how does it affect students?

    The recent Spending Review contained numerous measures likely to have an impact on students over the coming years, including:

    * The student loan repayment threshold for post-2012 borrowers has been frozen until April 2021 – meaning that students with these loans will end up paying more. Needless to say, this is hardly ideal since it effectively amounts to an additional tax on students.

    * The replacement of grants for Nursing students with loans. This is obviously a hugely disappointing development which removes a vital source of funding for a group of future workers already in short supply. Governments need to start acknowledging just how much of a perceived obstacle debt and funding are to many people.


    * A proposed reduction in teaching monies for universities will be offset by removal of the student numbers cap – meaning that a predicted rise in student numbers will be used to generate more revenue for universities. This is good news financially for institutions like Warwick with high numbers of international students - but bad news for those students themselves, as they are likely to continue being treated as ‘cash cows’! It also may put pressure on the amount of lecture and seminar spaces available on campus.

    There was some good news, however, particularly in the area of Postgraduate Student Loans – an area which the SU has campaigned consistently on during the last few years. Loans of up to £10,000 will now be available to those under 60 seeking to pursue postgraduate study. While I don’t think more debt in general is a good thing and I don’t believe that this will really tackle widening participation at PG level, it undoubtedly does provide prospective students with more options than they previously had.

    The proposals have largely moved in a positive direction in response to the consultation - some of the highlights to the changes were in the main spending review announcement, but there were a few other improvements that were not mentioned. I have outlined both the pros and cons below!


    Improvements to the original proposals:
     

    ·      The age cap for eligibility has increased from under-30s to under-60s.

    ·      The repayment rate at £21,000 has decreased from 9% to 6%.

    ·      Masters by Research degrees are now included in the proposals.

    ·      English residents can obtain the loans for any UK institution. (Not available to residents of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Click for more details on eligibility).

    ·      Distance learners are eligible.

     

    While PhD loans have been delayed, it was made clear that when (or if) these are introduced, they are designed to be in addition to existing funding mechanisms. This must be watched very closely.

     

    Remaining concerns:
     

    ·      These proposals do not go to the heart of widening participation in any discernible evidence-based way. (See  PG WP blog)

    ·      The amount of £10,000 does not cover the cost of fees for many courses, let alone living costs! A standard taught masters course at Warwick costs almost £8,000 with estimated average living costs of about £10,000.

    ·      More debt for students, which is yet another off-putting factor for many.

    ·      Deductions from salaries at £21,000 will still be very high particularly for those with outstanding UG loans.

    ·      The £21,000 threshold does not change with inflation for at least 4 years.

    ·      The age cap is in some ways even more acutely ageist now that it is excluding those over 60!

     

    There are various problems with these proposals and the government’s recent Green Paper on Higher Education – not least the continued prioritising of STEM over Arts subjects in accordance with the perceived needs of industry and the “market” - which we will obviously continue to address on our members’ behalf. Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction which marks a real victory for SUs such as ours who have lobbied on this issue over the last few years! While there is still some way to go on the issue of PG funding, it just goes to show: if you keep up the pressure for long enough, eventually those in power have no choice but to listen and act.

    To read the response to the BIS consultation on PG loans, see here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/postgraduate-study-student-loans-and-other-support

     

    For more information regarding eligibility at Warwick, see here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/academicoffice/funding/fundingyourstudies/pgceandpg/pgloans

     

Nat's Election

The election for Postgraduate Officer takes place during the Officer Elections in term 2.