Meet the executive

At the NPC Annual Conference a new executive was elected to manage the NPC for 2004/05. Here, each of the new NPC officers is introduced and the General Secretary, Jim Ewing, lays out his plans for the coming year.

General Secretary - Jim Ewing:

A product and stout defender of the comprehensive system, Jim graduated with honours in Arts from the University of Glasgow in 1983, then took a qualification in the teaching of English as a foreign language (TEFL) from Basil Paterson College, Edinburgh in 1984. After six months in Greece and twelve years in Spain, he returned to Glasgow to fulfil his ambition of studying Divinity and to prove his theory that he would learn from his mistakes the second time round. He must have done, to be accepted part-time for a research masters in Theology in 2000, finally graduating in July of this year. When he turned up at the university chapel for the graduation service, the Chaplain asked him what he was coming back to do next. Little did he know....

Jim believes he finds the NPC in a good condition. Under his predecessor, Dr Tim Brown, the NPC co-operated with the QAA (Quality Assurance Association) in drafting its supervision guidelines. "Now the task is to see that those guidelines be implemented - and that the Scottish QAA bring in sensible guidelines also."

Issues on Jim's agenda for the next year include:

  • Concentration of research funding, "Why should funding be concentrated in the south-eastern corner of the UK? Giving the lion's share of research funding to 5* past performers will not allow new institutions to develop expertise in their chosen fields of research. It may be riskier - and more work - to fund the most meritorious proposals, no matter which institutes they come from, but it would give new institutions a chance to prove themselves and keep older ones alert."
  • MBA cash cows, "Specific concerns have been raised that overseas students with inadequate English are being accepted onto MBA courses, then failed. This needs investigating."
  • Visa charges, "The postgraduate sector especially is more and more dependent on overseas students. Doubling visa charges under the present regime will play havoc with current budgets and future applications."

Jim hopes to welcome more members to NPC this year and to raise its profile through greater use of the media. "If we don't draw attention to ourselves, it's our own fault if no-one has heard of us."

Chairperson - Tim Roll-Pickering:

Tim is originally from Surrey and studied for a History BA and MA at the University of Kent, during which time he first became involved with the NPC. He served for two years as Treasurer and is now Chairperson. Currently, Tim is researching a PhD in History at Queen Mary, University of London.

Treasurer - Christabel Silva:

Christabel is from India and is Academic Officer at Middlesex University Students' Union.

Minutes Secretary - Dr James Groves:

James is now into his third term as Minutes Secretary, having failed to find anyone else willing to take this position on at the 2004 AGM! He's been involved with the NPC since 1997, as a Project Officer, Treasurer and (from 2000 - 2002) full-time General Secretary. He was a PhD student in Pure Maths at the University of Lancaster from 1996 - 2000, and still lives and works in Lancaster.

Communications Officer - John Grainger:

John is in his first year studying for a PhD in Molecular Biology at Edinburgh University. Originally from Birmingham, he has spent the past three years as an undergraduate at University College, London. When not in the lab John can often be found playing some form of musical instrument or participating, usually badly, in a wide variety of sports.

Equal Opportunities Officer - Paulet Brown:

Paulet comes from the Bahamas. She has lived and worked in the US and is now studying at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Project Officer - Andre Oboler:

Andre is an international student from Australia studying for a PhD in computing at Lancaster University. He is a Postgraduate student Rep on the Lancaster University Students' Union, an ex-VP of the Graduate Students' Association, a General Teaching Assistant, Co-Chair of the Lancaster University Jewish Society and last but certainly not least, an NPC Project Officer doing work in the area of postgraduates who teach. His PhD involves explaining why almost everyone doing research in computing is building software all wrong, and how they could do it better - and if you can think of a topic more likely to make enemies of potential colleagues and examiners, please let him know!

If you have issues or ideas relating to postgraduates as teachers please e-mail Andre at:

Project Officer - Dries Neirynck:

Dries is a final year PhD student at the University of Bristol, where he was the President and Chair of the local Postgraduate Society/Union. In his second year as NPC Project Officer, he will provide training sessions before formal meetings on a variety of issues related to postgraduates and representation.

Project Officer - Berrihan Abbas:

Beri is the Societies, Postgraduate, International Officer at Cardiff University Students' Union.

Project Officer - Dr Tim Brown:

As past General Secretary, Tim is now back in his engineering career working at Aalborg University in Denmark. While over there he has time to sit at his laptop writing useful publications and other helpful resources for NPC, which he has given his time to as a Project Officer this year.

Ordinary Executive Officer - Harpreet Singh:

Harpreet is a postgraduate from Aston Business School at Aston University and has been involved with the NPC for the last 3 years and has also served as Vice-president at Aston previously. He sits on the executive committee of National Black Students and National Overseas Students and has been actively involved in national campaigns with NUS. This year, he was elected on the board of EuroDoc and thus not only represents UK postgrads, but postgrads all over Europe. On the NPC executive, his role is to ensure that everyone "behaves" and things go by the right procedures. However, his more important role is to provide some fun, humour and nonsense to an otherwise sensible organisation.

Ordinary Executive Officer - Marilyn Shanks:

Marilyn is one of the Ordinary Officers of the NPC, which means that she's a watchdog. Her studies are in the area of Plant Molecular Biology at the
University of Essex, where she's also the Postgraduate Students' Officer and Chair of the Postgraduate Students' Assembly. She would like to see postgraduates getting a better deal from their Unions through better representation and better access to funding of postgraduate activities. Previously she has been involved with the NPC as a project officer from 2002-2004.

Chairperson NPC Scotland - Maggie Chapman:

Maggie is a second year PhD student at Edinburgh University researching Animal Geographies and Conservation Ethics. Originally from Zimbabwe, she came to Edinburgh to study Zoology as an undergraduate, going on to Stirling University for an MSc in Environmental Management. She is involved in postgraduate representation within EU SRC, and is currently looking into quality assurance issues facing postgraduate tutors and demonstrators and their students, and training resources/facilities, among other academic and funding concerns. When not at work, she is actively involved in campaigns for social and environmental justice. When time permits she is also a violinist and keen cyclist.