The Graduate School are excited to announce that the individual elected into the role of Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President will be remunerated for undergoing the role in future.
The opportunity to be able support an individual who, year on year, has worked closely with us in improving and shaping the postgraduate student experience is a positive step in the right direction. This individual is elected every year through the Imperial College Union elections system for carrying out the demanding responsibility of leading a committee of elected individuals who represent the entire postgraduate student community at Imperial College London. On top of this, the GSU President is expected to attend a host of Union, Graduate School and College committees, some of which are very senior.
However, the Graduate School, along with members of Imperial College Union have long expressed concern regarding the fairness of this role in being voluntary and unpaid, and have consequently deliberated over establishing greater support mechanisms for the individual in post. These conversations have developed through time and have more recently fruited thanks to the input of Ahmed Shamso (GSU President 2016/17), Luke McCrone (GSU President 2017/18) and Alex Chippy Compton (Imperial College Union President).
Hearing of the challenges faced by Ahmed in fulfilling the role alongside a full time PhD is really testament to the changes made. The time taken aside from study in completing the role has undoubtedly compromised Ahmed’s ability to remain on track with finishing his PhD; the introduction of a stipend for the role will not only act as a motivational incentive for the post-holder in future, but will more crucially compensate for the dent made to research funding and time. Introducing financial remuneration will naturally shift the status of the role from voluntary to part-time, giving Union Council members and postgraduate students greater opportunity to hold the GSU to account on its activities.
Ahmed explained: “Spending a large amount of my time on enriching the life of postgraduate students at Imperial has had a costly effect on the progression of my PhD research, despite me having done my best to manage my time and keep everything under control. Having committed so much of my time as GSU president over the past year, I will most likely stay beyond the 3-year funding window, which will add extra pressure on my financial health as an individual. The remuneration will now help to alleviate these challenges for future Presidents.”
As he embarks on the role in light of the new changes made, GSU President Luke McCrone said: “Having worked as a full time sabbatical officer last year at Imperial College Union, I can truly comprehend how demanding any student leadership position can be. Therefore, I am completely reassured by the support which has been established for this role as I believe it will not only ensure I strike a healthy balance alongside my PhD programme, but will also help to carve out a sustainable model for postgraduate representation at Imperial in future.”
Having launched their latest strategy, Imperial College Union have more recently been open to experimenting with changes to postgraduate representation with a view to better serve their postgraduate members.
Our Union president said “Imperial College Union is pleased that the Graduate School has demonstrated its partnership with and support of the Graduate Students’ Union. Student leadership within all levels of the College is crucial to a successful learning experience for our members. The funding of the Graduate Students’ Union President will allow the Union, College and students to work even more closely to enhance the postgraduate experience at Imperial.”