Making a Change

We live in a time when people all over the world are actively making changes.

People are planting trees, reforesting, irrigating deserts, eschewing combustion engines, boycotting single-use plastics, and even cleaning the oceans.

And you can make changes too. Not always on a grand scale, but certainly on a local scale. And at your HEI it’s no different.

This month, PGRs at Stirling requested automatic renewals for all PGR book loans. Not a huge protest, but something that will change the lives of dozens of people on a day-to-day basis.

Over the last year, PGRs at St Andrews and Edinburgh have been trying to renegotiate payment for their tutoring work. A small change that will impact the lives of those tutors massively.

Researchers all over the UK and abroad have been planting wildflowers and requesting new environmental policies at their universities.

You, as a PGR, are not just a student any more. You’re working at a university in a real way, at a full-time job. At any other job, if you have a complaint or a suggestion you can take it to HR or your line manager. In a PhD it’s exactly the same. If you feel you and your colleagues need a change in something at your department, suggest it to the Faculty. If the library lending and renewal system isn’t working properly, let the staff there know. If you’re feeling that there aren’t enough EV charging points or bee-friendly flowers about, talk to Estates Management. If the prices in the Union cafe are too high and they’re allowing too much plastic, have a chat with them.

You don’t have to be a middle-manager to go to the bosses and ask for change. You can do it on a wee scale that will help you and your colleagues to make the most of your PhDs, and help those who will come after you to complete their research with a little less stress and a little more joy. Don’t be afraid of your supervisors, your support staff, or your department administrators. They’re also doing jobs, and they want yours to be enjoyable!

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