NPC Wales Meeting Minutes, 011102

Minutes of NPC Wales Meeting
Held at the Graduate Centre, Cardiff University Students Union
Friday 1st November 2002 at 2pm

1. Sederunt
David Manning, Chair, Cardiff University
Natasha Hirst, Treasurer, Cardiff University
Tom McGarry, President of NUS Wales
Tim Brown, General Secretary, NPC
Ozzie Johnston (Postgraduate Officer, Postgraduate Forum), welcomed for the first time from University of Wales, Bangor
Anna Brown (Taught Postgraduates Administrator), welcomed from University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff

Following the welcome session coffee had been prepared and was consumed so there was opportunity for people to get to know each other.

2. Minutes and Matters
From NPC Wales meeting on the 16/3/02, the following points were raised:

  • Tom McGarry pointed out the meetings in item 2.1 were set in the terms of reference to meet three times per year and that they could meet around NUS Wales meetings, possibly next to each other to ease travel.
  • David Manning pointed out that in item 2.4 on recruiting more affiliates there was need to increase interest since only Swansea and Cardiff are currently members. Lampeter had shown interest and they were also visited by James Groves (Past General Secretary). Interest from Bangor was reported from Ozzie Johnston only there were complications with the Postgraduate Forum which has limited funding (currently in deficit) and also it runs separately from the Students Union. Following discussion, two factors were necessary to resolve in order for Bangor Postgraduate Forum to affiliate. These were:
    a) To recover sufficient funds
    b) To reach agreement with Bangor Students Union to grant the Postgraduate Forum delegate awarding powers to vote at NPC meetings.
  • Tom McGarry reported that Assembly Learning Grants (ALGs) are based on location not on based on domicile but access funds are limited to postgraduates.

Minutes were otherwise approved.

3. Reports
David Manning reported on general progress since the AGM regarding management of NPC Wales.
Tasha Hirst had little to report since cheques were written by Tim Roll-Pickering (NPC Treasurer). The system of NPC Wales' finances were explained.

4. Assembly Learning Grants Petition
David Manning presented the response letter to the ALG petition. According to the letter, the scheme had been finalised for the year 2002/03 and so it could not be updated for that academic year. However David Manning encouraged NPC Wales that the campaign should still continue for the next academic year to widen the chance of postgraduates to receive ALGs. Ways of increasing participants were discussed including visiting lectures and other public student areas.

5. Rees Report
David Manning reported that the report recommends Education Learning in Wales, ELWa, should investigate how the full costs of courses can be met by providers (recommendation 46). Also the DWP have not addressed problems regarding thesis writing and a need for student status with regards to council tax exemption. This was identified as a problem in recommendation 48. It has been found to be Council dependant as to whether exemption is granted as some councils allow it (e.g. Newcastle upon Tyne). This has a great effect on writing up mode students and others such as resit students. In any instance, such criteria is means tested and lacks a defined threshold. NPC therefore has a reason to campaign UK wide to see a suitable threshold derived based on the varying case studies brought forward.

Tom McGarry noted the institution level aspects, and Tim Brown added this is true on a national level and could be investigated in the future by an NPC Project Officer. Ozzie Johnston also added that on the international side of things he could make some investigation. David Manning agreed to try and collect some evidence of the problems faced by writing-up students in Wales with a view to writing a report on the topic for presentation to the Assembly, and HEIs. It was proposed also to ask Teresa Rees on certain matters about the issue the following day.

6. Widening Participation
David Manning raised the talk given by Ewan Gillon at the NPC 2002 Conference. Anna Brown raised the idea of expanding basic skills such as IT and learning support to help the many postgraduates without such skills. With respect to undergraduates there has been much identified with respect to making courses accessible and having a greater access to employment afterwards. Nothing has been done to widen participation in postgraduate study, and there are a number of issues surrounding pg student support that need to be addressed by Government. Natasha Hirst reported that problems with the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) are being raised with Westminster by herself and other student representatives, but there is no immediate sign of resolution.

7. Elections
David Manning raised the vacancy for Vice Chair/Secretary position. The position remains vacant.

8. Future Plans for the Spring Semester
The Constitution changes were raised by David Manning and summarised by Tim Brown following an email from James Groves. It was decided that the issue should be investigated and brought to the next meeting more formally.

9. Date and Venue of Next Meeting
Ideally between the 18th and 28th Februrary was proposed as a date so it was not to clash with Ozzie Johnstons Birthday. Also it was proposed that it could be held next to NUS Wales in Bangor area on Thursday 27th Februrary.

10. Any other Business
There was no other business.
Closed at 1605.

Tim Brown