What is Gopher?
Gopher is an organization for all PhD students at the University of Groningen (Groningen Organization for PHd Education and Recreation). Our aims are (1) to create a social platform where PhD students can meet each other; (2) to provide PhD students of all faculties with the opportunity to learn new things during their PhD; (3) to help PhD students have a nice time during their busy PhD project. We try to fulfill these aims by organizing approximately four events each month: two educational events and two social events. For examples of the kind of events we organize, you can see our past and upcoming events.
Who runs Gopher?
Gopher is an organization that is run on a voluntary basis by a board of 5 to 8 PhD students. The board members combine this this with their PhD. You can find more information on the current board members HERE. The board changes each year in October. If you are a PhD student in Groningen and interested in becoming a Gopher board member, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for more information about the board duties and how and when you can apply for a position in the next board term.
How is Gopher connected to the RuG?
Gopher is not an official RuG organization, but we are funded by the dean of the all Graduate Schools, prof. dr. Lou de Leij. Furthermore, many of our educational events are organized internally, i.e. we try to get speakers from the RuG in order to show what the University has to offer.
All this different parties that organize events for PhDs confuse me. How is Gopher different from the PhD councils, GRIN, the Graduate School?
Both the Graduate School and the PhD councils are faculty-specific. The Graduate School at your faculty takes care of the education of PhDs and formal administrative procedures, such as Hora Finita and the finalization of your PhD. The PhD council, run by PhD students, often aims to foster contact between PhD students within the same faculty and to keep track of possible problems PhD students within that faculty encounter.
GRIN and Gopher are both university-wide, which means they cater for all PhD students, regardless of the faculty they are working at. GRIN takes care of political and administrative issues involving PhDs. An example is that they keep a close eye on all developments regarding the bursary experiment and have as a main goal to inform PhDs on their rights and obligations. Gopher, on the other hand, stays updated on those issues but does not get politically involved. Gopher’s main goal is to learn PhD students some new things that are useful for a PhD and to make sure PhDs also have a little fun in between all the hard work. Since the organization of events is Gopher’s main task, Gopher’s events are the most frequent ones.
What is the PhD day and what is Gopher’s role there?
Every year in September, there is a PhD day in Groningen. This is sort of a conference for all PhD students in Groningen. Many lectures and workshops are being offered and the day ends with a dinner and a party. Initially this Day was organized by Gopher but because of its size nowadays this day is organized by a special committee, the PhD day committee, which collaborates closely with Gopher. Moreover, Gopher always has a stand on the PhD day, so you can find us there if you have any questions about Gopher. For more information on the PhD day, look at their website.
Do I need to be a member of Gopher to join events?
No, Gopher does not have a a membership. Every PhD student of the University of Groningen can join our events. For some events, registration is also possible for non-PhDs. If that is the case, it is explicitly stated in the event description.
How do I register for events?
You have to register for all events via a form. On Facebook, in the event description, you will find a link to the form. Also in the newsletter you can find the link to the registration form of an event. Once you have filled in the form, you have registered for the event and we are counting on your presence. After filling it in, you will receive an email confirming your registration within 3 working days. If the event has a fee, you will also find the payment details in this e-mail.
How do I pay for events?
Most of our events have a (small) fee, because unfortunately we are not able to organize everything for free and certain activities (for example including external speakers) are expensive. n the event description on Facebook or in the Newsletter, you will find the fee for the event. After having registered for an event you will receive an email confirming your registration. In this email you can also find the payment information, i.e. our bank account name and number and what you should write in the description so that we can process your payment adequately. After we have received your payment we will send you an email confirming your payment within 3 working days. We recommend to pay immediately when you have registered, so that your spot for the event is secured. Moreover, usually we have a deadline for payment, which you will find in the confirmation e-mail. If you have not paid by that deadline, your spot will be made available again to someone else.
I am not on Facebook. How do I stay updated on new events?
All our events will be posted in our monthly newsletter that all PhD students receive. Moreover, you can always find our events on our website.
I have this promo code. How can I use it to get a discount on an event?
To make new PhDs feel welcome, we provide them with a promo code at the introductory event for PhDs. The promo code means you get a discount when you register for an event that has a fee. If you register for an event and you want to use the promo code, you have to fill in the code in the registration form. In an e-mail that confirms your registration you will find the ‘new’ price you have to pay which includes the discount.
I do not receive the Gopher newsletter even though I am a PhD student at the RuG. What’s wrong?
We try hard to make sure all PhDs receive the newsletter. However, sometimes it goes wrong. If you don’t receive the newsletter, first check your spam folder. It may be the case that e-mails from Gopher go there. If you cannot find it there, then please send us an e-mail (email@example.com) and we will add you to our mailing list manually. Also you can find a subscription window on the main page of our website.
I don’t want to receive the Gopher newsletter. How can I unsubscribe?
We are sorry to hear you don’t want to receive the newsletter anymore. You can unsubscribe via the button at the bottom of the newsletter or by sending us an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Is Gopher also involved in political issues regarding PhD students?
No, Gopher is specifically meant for educational activities and fun/social activities. GRIN (Groningen Graduate Interest Network) is the organization that deals with political and administrative issues that concern PhD students at the RuG. Gopher is not actively involved in this. However, we do have frequent contact with the Dean of the Graduate Schools, with GRIN, and with the PhD councils of the faculties, so we are always updated on whichever issues there are.
What is Gopher’s position regarding the bursary experiment?
As we are not actively involved in political issues, we refrain from taking a stance on the bursary experiment. Our main goal in the experiment is to make sure that the new bursary students become familiar with Gopher and that we offer educational and social events that also meet their needs.
I am having issues with my supervisor(s) which I cannot solve by myself. Can you help me?
We are sorry to hear you are having problems. Unfortunately, there is little Gopher can do for you. We advise you to talk to a confidential advisor. If you do not know how to find the confidential adviser at your department, contact the PhD council of your faculty. All PhD councils and their e-mail addresses can be found on the RuG website. In case your issues involve political matters (e.g. you feel like you are not being treated fairly or some agreements have been broken), we advise you to contact GRIN. Despite the fact that there is nothing practical we can do for you, you are very welcome at one of our events, where you can talk to us or to other PhD students who will provide you a listening ear, some informal advice and some distraction from your problems.
How do I find a room/apartment in Groningen?
It can be quite a challenge to find nice housing in Groningen. If you are an international student, you can look at the website of SSH to see if you can find a place there. GRIN provides an overview of housing tips HERE. In general, it is very important to shout out to the whole world that you are looking for a room or apartment in Groningen. Next to that, Kamernet works quite well to find a place quickly, but note that you have to pay a small amount per month for a Kamernet account that allows you to contact the people who have put their place for rent on there.
I am new in Groningen. How do I meet other PhDs, outside of my own department?
Welcome in Groningen, we hope you will have a wonderful time here! Of course you can meet other PhDs of a range of faculties at our events. Our events are very open; many people go there alone and end up talking to other people all the time. We also recommend you to join events organized by your Graduate School and PhD council. Graduate Schools usually organize some educational events and PhD councils organize both educational activities and ‘borrels’ (drinks). There you can mingle with PhD students from your own faculty.
I am new in Groningen. Can you recommend some nice pubs/activities/restaurants/sights?
There are lots of nice things to do and see in Groningen and its surroundings, but the list would be too long to put here and it also depends on what you are interested in. We recommend you to join one of our events and then talk to us or to other PhDs. Many of us have been living in Groningen for a while now, so based on your interests, we can help you with some recommendations.