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Update for Michaelmas Term 2019

Who we are

Ben Fernando is a fourth year PhD student on the Environmental Research DTP and Rebecca Colquhoun is a fourth year undergraduate in Earth Sciences. This is Ben's third year as the MPLS Postgraduate student rep (and eighth as a student rep here and elsewhere) and Rebecca’s second year as the MPLS Undergraduate student rep. For more information about student representation in MPLS, see the pages on Undergraduate representation and Postgraduate representation.

Rebecca Colquhoun and Ben Fernando

Rebecca Colquhoun and Ben Fernando

Our role:

We are appointed for one year terms by Oxford SU to represent students on the relevant committees within the division, including the Divisional Board, the Graduate Schools’ committee, and the Education Committee (for all taught degrees). We also act as liaisons between the students’ union and the Division, and make termly reports to the students’ council. 

What we are working on (PG):  

The biggest issues that I’ve been working on recently are related to equality and diversity in MPLS. This has included lobbying for more BAME members to be on MPLS committees (at present I am the only BAME person on any of the committees which I sit on) and pushing to get interns paid minimum wage (we recently secured a change in government policy on this note).  

I have also been involved with the development of Parks College as a member of the Building Group, and on developing graduate access programs within the University more widely.  

My priorities for the year are to continue the campaign for the removal of the graduate application fee across Oxford, to ensure that we no longer permit unpaid internships in any MPLS department, and to put in place better structures for departmental postgraduate representatives to affect change within their departments. 

Ben Fernando - email

What we are working on (UG):

After being appointed at the end of Hilary 2019, at the request of many students I have been looking into rates of mistakes in exams. This term I hope to continue this work, understanding how and when mistakes are picked up, as well as working with the division to better educate students on the checking processes our exams go through and what will happen in case of a mistake being found. I also want to ensure that students’ results are not negatively being affected when errors occur, particularly when significant errors are not picked up until after the exam is sat. 

I have also been working to revitalise the UJCF, which has been rebranded as the Taught Degrees Forum to include PGT students. Each course has been asked to appoint a rep to this, with whom I will meet termly. 

My final priority for the year is to work on investigating inequality in funding for fieldwork to ensure that ability to pay for field-trips does not affect student choice of module or outcomes, as well as ensuring that locations of fieldwork do not exclude certain demographics. 

Rebecca Colquhoun - email