In the second debate of the day, candidates Eleanor McCarthy and Megan Adams go up against each other in the Postgraduate Officer Debate. Candidates were asked about their manifestos, specific support they wanted to implement for PhD and PGR students, and how they wanted to combat the impact of the pandemic.
The candidates launched into opening statements, with Eleanor emphasising how she's "passionate about bring the postgraduate community closer together" as students have lost many opportunities to make connections this year. She's also keen to improve mental health resources and employability support, and greater support for PGR students.
Megan highlights her campaign's emphasis on disability advocacy and mental health support, and her goals are to "continue the work that Charlotte has been doing with mental health support", increase careers' support and accommodate for all students affected by the pandemic.
When quizzed about their plans to advocate for PhD students, both Megan and Eleanor express they hope to offer more support for prospective students. Eleanor plans to advertise more opportunities to prospective students, and Megan wants to offer increased support in the application process.
Impact of the pandemic
Current Postgraduate Officer, Charlotte Boulton, asked Kieren Cutting's question from the live-stream chat: "PGRs have been consistently overlooked throughout the pandemic. At the most recent student council, a motion was passed to lobby for funded extensions for PGRs. How would you continue this work?"
Eleanor sympathised with the situation and said she will fight to ensure that students can get the required resources by getting direct statements from PGR students, to identify the struggles they are facing and the detrimental effects the pandemic is having on their research. She notes that the university must realise that in order to uphold academic standards, extensions will have to happen for the wellbeing of PGR students. Megan added to this, arguing that extensions are important for wellbeing and should be given reasonable consideration.
Megan is asked by moderator Robert how her policies will increase the employability of postgraduate students after they leave Newcastle University. She replies that she's keen to implement career help particularly in the humanities, an area she feels is currently let down by the careers service. Additionally, she will advocate tailoring existing workshops and events specifically for PG students. Eleanor adds that she thinks a "comprehensive" careers newsletter, targeted towards postgraduates, would be really beneficial. She also stresses the importance of networking events and working on different projects with other students across different schools and departments.
Voting opens on the 1st March and 50p per voter will also be donated and split between three charities.