Anecdotally, the University of Strathclyde postgraduate students are not as well engaged with and by Strath Union as undergraduates. Strath Union would like to confirm if this is true and if so, understand why. The details of the services used by students, particularly postgraduate students (taught and research). Postgraduate students makeup almost a quarter of all students in the Strathclyde, but are often underrepresented or overlooked. The Doctoral Research Group provides support to PGR students through its projects and representation on the Management Board. However, the aim is to provide services within the union that meets the needs of the large and diverse PGR and PGT populations. Ideally, Strath Union is looking for information that will highlight the lived experience of postgraduate students here at Strathclyde and the outcomes will include recommendations for Strath Union to implement to engage these students effectively.
To approach the Strath Union (SU) target, the results were obtained by using both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. The main focus of this research was to investigate the perspectives of students studying at the University of Strathclyde at the postgraduate level toward the Strath Union. Therefore, all the qualitative questions were asked specifically to the postgraduate students via interview. However, quantitative questions were asked to undergraduates and postgraduates to investigate if the proportion holds in line with the assumptions of the Student Union that there is an underrepresentation of postgraduate students in comparison to undergraduates. A sample population (n = 50) of students at UG and PGT level was conducted to gain a quantitative analysis of student engagement in the SU events, and a smaller sample (n = 35) to gain qualitative analysis of views and attitudes toward the SU for just the PGT students.
Further insights were recorded from research conducted by other business and data analyst groups’ investigating the same topic albeit with different techniques (focus groups and surveys). Developing on the research it was further aligned constitutively with the study of other team members before coming to the conclusion.
The analytical tools and software that were used: Microsoft Excel and SPSS. The computation of the analysis performed in SPSS was primarily an analysis of variance (ANOVA) to test the goodness of fit in the model. The model used in this study is the General Linear Model (GLM) a part of the ANOVA statistical models collection. The goodness of fit tests was conducted in SPSS to test the model for accuracy, especially testing for the presence of heteroskedastic data to omit the presence of errors in the model.
How do students get to know about the Strath Union?
How have students engaged with the democratic processes within the union?
What their thoughts on current union provision for PG students?
Whether students feel Strath Union benefits their learning experience i.e. financial support and advice, mental health and wellbeing, societies, and social activity.
After intensive analysis, a set of recommendations was drawn to ensure the engagement of postgraduate students with the Student Union.
Firstly, by introducing a reception/desk area can give a great impression on the student body entering the building. Students can gain easy access and ask about their respective queries at one platform. At the same time, the feedback form can also be provided. It can act as the moment of truth. Creating a welcoming reception can contribute to creating a sense of belonging and identity with staff, which can influence and inspire an employee’s mindset and attitude for the day; reminding them they are part of something bigger.
Findings from the interviews show that generally, the international students are unaware of the Strath Union, and therefore it is important to create an atmosphere where they are represented, informed, and feel comfortable.
For PG Students, there should be more career-based activities and societies; inclusion of guest lectures, Ted talks, and speeches for post-graduate students could greatly enhance their interactions with the Strath Union. Furthermore, PG students (especially international students) want to explore different places outside Glasgow and so excursions can be introduced into the system.
However, the main reason for non-engagement is that students are unaware of the Strath Union services. Many respondents initially became aware of the Strath Union through websites and social media. Therefore it would be prudent to concentrate more resources on solidifying its online presence, particularly social media.
Therefore an effective way of communication that can be suggested is face to face engagements through fair or class announcements to make postgraduate students aware of what the student union is about and what it has to offer in order to increase their engagement.
This study has shown a myriad of opinions from postgraduate students reflecting their views and attitudes toward the Student Union. The most recurring themes as noted throughout the study were time constraints, lack of awareness about the Union, and lack of interest in the Union.
Throughout this report, the main themes for non-engagement have been time constraints, lack of awareness, and lack of interest. However, there was a noticeable trend noted by researchers that when students were asked if they would attend if they had time, they mentioned that it would be unlikely due to a lack of interest. This suggests that time itself may not be the primary factor in the underrepresentation, but a lack of interest may be the strongest factor. Also, over one-third of respondents claimed they would ‘definitely not’ becoming actively engaged with the Student Union this year – perhaps suggesting that even over periods that are less time-demanding they would still not have an interest in attending. Further research into activities that students are interested in is strongly recommended if this issue is to be combated.