All members should have received a personal letter from the senior leadership team earlier this week regarding some changes we are making to the PSA’s membership packages and rates which are designed to improve the service and benefits offered to all members. Just in case you did not receive it, or if you are not currently a member and thinking of joining, the letter is reproduced below.

POLITICAL STUDIES ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP CHANGES 
 

After freezing our membership fees last year, we will soon be updating our membership fees, as we do each autumn, and also introducing some new types of membership. Following the survey we carried out earlier this year and the useful feedback that we received from members, these changes are designed to offer a better and more tailored range of benefits to members in all categories and to make membership as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.  These changes are being introduced alongside our exciting new website, which will provide clearer and more accessible information about PSA activities, and the first phase of which will be launched within the next fortnight.

The new fees will come into place on 19 November. This is also the date on which registration for next year’s conference opens, so if you’re joining or renewing your membership at the same time as booking the early bird rate for the conference, you’ll be doing so at the new level. Of course, you will only pay the new rate – which for many of you will be the same as at present – once your current annual membership is due for renewal.

 

Membership Benefits

We are excited about the ever-expanding range of benefits available to members each year, and look forward to seeing these grow further for members in every membership category. In addition to these existing benefits, we are also introducing two new benefits for our members:

  1. Having purchased our new office this year in Camden, London, we are able to offer a quiet working space to PSA members, free of charge. In addition, meeting rooms (with a maximum capacity of 24 people) are also available to hire at reduced rates for members, the details of which will be available on the upgraded new website.
  2. We are also introducing a wider range of training and professional development opportunities to reflect the needs of our members across a range of areas, such as working with policy makers; media training; accessing research funding; and mental health and wellbeing to name but a few. We will be announcing further details about these at our conference in Nottingham next April.   

We would also like to remind you that the tax on your membership can be reclaimed if you live and work in the UK. Visit the HMRC website for more information.

The main changes that we are making for each category of membership are set out below:

 

Individual Academic Membership

After careful consideration over recent years, we will replace the current flat fee with three levels of progressively priced fees, based on annual salary, in a similar vein to the membership fee model in place with APSA. These fees will be as follow: 

  • If you earn less than £40k per year: £72 per year
  • If you earn £40k-60k per year: £82 per year
  • If you earn more than £60k per year: £92 per year

As such, Individual members currently earning below £40,000 a year will now pay £72 rather than the current £82 (unless you pay by direct debit); meanwhile, some members will pay the same as at present; and those of you at the more senior levels will pay a little more. This change should mean that the majority of existing academic members will enjoy a decrease in their annual membership fee. We hope you will agree that this small change should help to make sure all of the benefits of membership will be made even more accessible to a wider range of individuals.

 

Early Career Membership

We will be increasing the annual fee for Early Career Network members from £10 to £20 per year. When we first reduced the fee for Early Career Scholars two years ago from its previous level of £44 a year, we agreed to trial it at the lower figure of £10 a year. While we are really pleased with how successful that was and with the subsequent increase in the number of early career members, as a charity, we cannot sustain such a low fee indefinitely. We have developed an extensive range of benefits available to those in the ECN category and will be looking at ways to build on this working closely with the ECN committee. These benefits include an annual ECN conference and welcome event; dedicated events at the PSA annual conference; focused workshops on pursuing a career in academia; and access to range of grants and other funding opportunities. We therefore believe that this price represents excellent value for money for our doctoral and immediate post-doctoral members. 

 

Retired Membership

Retired academics will be able to renew their membership (or join – it’s never too late!) for £60 a year. We have also decided to offer a life membership package for retired members, for a one-off fee of £500.

 

Unwaged/unemployed HE Academics

We have slightly reduced the fee for those who are unwaged or unemployed HE Academics, from our previous ‘Concessions’ category fee of £44, to £40 a year. Individuals who are members of this category will continue to vote in our governance matters, have access to our journals and enjoy the existing benefits of membership, at a reduced price.

 

Schools Membership

One of the main changes we have already made and announced over the summer in relation to engaging with schools and teachers is a strategy to increase the number and type of schools and students who benefit from working with us. We have therefore moved away from individual teacher memberships to a new school/college level membership that is available for only £25 a year for the first two years (rising to £40 a year thereafter), which allows up to ten members of staff to access the benefits of the schools membership service. We believe this change will make membership more accessible for a wider range of schools and we will continue consulting with schools to ensure that we develop the kind of provision and support that is of most value. Schools as institutions will be unable to vote in our governance matters, but of course individual teachers will still be able to join the PSA as Individuals, paying a fee determined by their salary, and vote as a result.   

 

Wider Public Membership

This category of membership is open to those outside of the academic community who do not wish to receive our journals or vote in our governance matters but do wish to be involved in and attend some of our events and other activities. This will be available for only £40 a year. 

 

Students

It has become apparent that we currently have a gap in our membership offering, as we have no category for students at A-Level, Undergraduate and Masters levels who wish to join the PSA. We have agreed that this should now become a distinct category, priced at £10 a year. Students will not receive our journals or be able to vote in our governance matters, but we will continue to expand the range of benefits that this category provides over the coming year. 

 

Membership Numbers

We currently have over 1800 members, and recently reached our all-time record highest membership levels. We have set ourselves the ambitious target in our Strategic Plan of increasing membership numbers by 25% by 2021. We hope that the changes we are making will help us to achieve that, and we also ask for your help, by encouraging your friends and colleagues to join and persuading them of the benefits and good value for money that PSA membership provides. Please continue to spread the word about the wide range of benefits enjoyed through PSA membership, and we look forward to seeing you at an event soon.

 

With all good wishes,

The PSA Senior Leadership Team

Professor Angelia Wilson, Chair
Professor Feargal Cochrane, Vice-Chair
Professor Yvonne Galligan, Treasurer
Professor Claire Dunlop, Equality & Diversity Lead
Dr Paul Tobin, Membership Secretary
Phil Sooben, CEO