This autumn, PhD students at the University of Agder are setting the foundation of their own association to help and support PhD students with their student life at UiA.
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The associationwill represent all PhD students and postdoctoral fellows at the University of Agder (UiA). At the moment, it only exists on Campus Grimstad, but the plan is to include students from both campuses.
UiA supports the association. Øyvind Nystøl from the Division of Research Management is the administrative contact for the PhD students. He is very pleased by such initiatives from the students.
"We want to support this as best as we can, of course, both on a practical and financial level," Nystøl says.
Five PhD students from the Faculty of Engineering and Science on Campus Grimstad have this autumn been initiators of the association. They say that UiA so far has not had a network that represents UiA’s PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. Such networks can, for example, be found at other Norwegian institutions like NTNU and the University of Bergen.
Sinziana Rasca, PhD research fellow of sustainable mobility at the Department of Engineering Sciences, is one of the initiators. She says that UiA has done a lot of good things for fulfilling the needs PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, but these efforts have primarily been connected to specific institutes and faculties.
"We hope to create an interdisciplinary associationwhich connects all the university’s PhD students and supports them even better. We need an organisation that brings us colleagues together," Rasca says.
This autumn, the associationheld its own get-together in Grimstad to mark the start of the organisation. Over 30 PhD students attended.
Some of the main purposes of the party were network building and finding out what the students want to use the associationfor.
"We are overwhelmed by the positive response from both the students and UiA. Clearly, there is a need for this association. We have now started it with students from Campus Grimstad. Eventually, we hope to include more students from more departments and faculties on both campuses," Rasca says.
On the 5th of December the organisation will hold a Christmas gathering on Campus Kristiansand. At UiA, there are more than 250 PhD students and around 25 postdoctoral fellows. The associationhopes that many of these will come to meet other PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.
The gathering in Kristiansand will lay the foundation for an associationthat includes all of UiA, both Grimstad and Kristiansand.
The associationwill host many activities in the coming months. For example, there are plans for more social events, network building, work groups and academic theme nights that are relevant for the students.
"We hope the associationcan help PhD students and postdoctoral fellows at UiA with overcoming the challenges we all face. We see that many people, especially international students, have many common challenges. This is something that we as an associationwant to do something about," Rasca says.
For example, they are planning to establish a buddy arrangement and a package solution for newly employed PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.