Tagged / UKCGE

BU Research Supervisors’ good practice recognised in national pilot programme

Earlier this year, the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) ran a pilot scheme exploring the feasibility of a Research Supervision Recognition Programme to set a benchmark for good-practice in research supervision and to shine a light on this under-appreciated area of academic practice.

BU was one of 13 HEIs invited to participate in the pilot and, to recognise and celebrate good practice in research supervision here at BU, three supervisors from three faculties (FHSS, FM, FST) was asked to take part. Each participant wrote an extended reflective statement on their supervisory experience and practice, focusing on all areas of the role.  All applications were successfully assessed by the UKCGE review panel and participants were commended for the commitment and enthusiasm they demonstrate for the role, and are now able to use the title “UKCGE Recognised Research Supervisor”.

The Doctoral College led the institutional participation in the pilot and Dr Fiona Knight reported to UKCGE that “Bournemouth University is continually identifying mechanisms to improve the experience of our PGRs and recognise that the quality of the supervisory relationship is central to this. We welcome this scheme as a way of encouraging our new and established supervisors to reflect on their practice whilst engaging with continuing professional development.”

UKCGE has now launched the Good Supervisory Practice Framework which acknowledges, for the first time at a national level, the wide-ranging, highly complex and demanding set of roles involved in modern research supervision. The framework is designed to set expectations for all supervisors and sets out the criteria used to define good supervisory practice are based on the substantive body of academic literature. Professor Stan Taylor of Durham University, who was instrumental in developing the criteria, was External Examiner for the former PG Cert Research Degree Supervision at BU. It is UKCGE’s ambition that, ‘in addition to enabling supervisors to demonstrate their ability to colleagues and candidates, the criteria underpinning the programme will create a benchmark that becomes the standard for effective supervisory practice the programme’ (Dr Gill Houston, Chair of the UK Council for Graduate Education).

Recent Advance HE PRES results for BU indicate that the majority of PGRs feel very positive about their supervisory experiences, however, it is acknowledged that supervisors can feel undervalued and overwhelmed by the scale of their task that is often undertaken in addition to many other academic responsibilities.

Roll out of programme 

The Doctoral College plans to formalise BU’s engagement with the programme through its on-going programme of supervisory development activities in a process akin to TeachBU. This will enable individuals to demonstrate that they have met the good supervisory criteria and duly receive recognition. Not only will this provide encouragement for supervisors to engage with continuing professional development but it will also provide a structured process to support the development of high quality research supervision and public evidence of the quality of supervision across BU, whist aligning with a number of BU’s strategic goals that are articulated in BU2025.

Further details will be made available in due course however, if you are interested in learning more, please contact Doctoral College .

Doctoral Loans

Last month the Doctoral College were in attendance for a UKGCE event. Jamie Chadd – PGR admissions administrator – reports back.

On 28th January I attend a UKGCE workshop at the University of Birmingham focused around the introduction of the new Postgraduate Doctoral Loans offered by the government. The event was well attended considering the forecast of heavy snow in the afternoon, and there was strong representation from a variety of different HEIs.

In attendance were Jon Legg and Charmaine Valente from Student Finance England, which meant the day was a mix of gaining further understanding of the new loans from SFE, alongside providing feedback to them regarding institutional experience of the first academic year the loans had been in place.

I spent the day with staff members from the Universities of East London, Northampton and Kent, and it was interesting to hear their perspective on the loans as well as get a bit of understanding of how they run their PGR services. As you can imagine, the size of the PGR cohorts were all quite different, which meant we had all had varying levels of experience with the loans so far.

The morning covered course and student eligibility for the Doctoral Loans. It was made very clear to us that we should remember that these loans were considered a contribution to costs for PhD students, recognising that £25,000 does not cover the full cost of a doctoral programme. The estimation of take-up for the 2018/19 academic year was 10,300 rising to 12,300 in five years’ time.

We were told in detail the strict eligibility requirements regarding previous levels of study, domicile, and concurrent funding. An important point of clarification was made regarding students who are, or may be, in receipt of Research Council funding – students should only apply for the loan if they have no intention of applying for such funding. If a student should apply for such funding later in their course (after taking out a loan), their eligibility for the loan will cease and they will receive no further payments.

In the afternoon we covered some qualitative research on the impact and perception of the Postgraduate Doctoral loans. Dr Billy Bryan presented some results from his study on how the  loans could change the value of the UK doctorate. This led to some interesting discussions about whether the loans represent an even higher risk for an increasingly risky degree pathway. In groups we also reflected on the aspects of mental health and self-worth for PhD students who were funding themselves via the loan, and if there were potentially undue negative implications post-doctorate for those that loan-funded awards versus those funded via Research Council funding.

Mark Bennet, who is Head of Content at FindAUniversity, presented results from a survey undertaken on the perception of loans, which was run in the summer of 2018 – before the first set of loan-funded students enrolled across the UK. There was a generally positive perception about the loans, with 51% of the 369 respondents predicting the loans would make doctoral study more accessible.

The most distinct trends from the research showed that the most positive perceptions about the loans came from potential part-time students, and from students wanting to study in the Arts & Humanities. This was highly indicative of two things: firstly, the loan was seen to be useful by people who wanted to undertake flexible part-time study, presumably as it also gave them time to work to further assist in funding their doctorate. Secondly – and perhaps unsurprisingly – was the positive response from Humanities students, an area that traditionally offers less in the way of research funding opportunities.

We managed to finish a little early, giving us all time to try and make an earlier train, as the snow was coming thick and fast by now. Reflecting back on the day on the journey home, I’d highlight that it would be difficult to get any real understanding of the impact of the loans until the 2018/19 cohort were in the stage of completing their PhD’s. However, there may be opportunities to ensure we are more transparent and responsible with how we market the loans during the admissions and applications process. There is also a case for tracking how students are funded in greater detail, so that when we produce data on our completion rates or student numbers, we are able to see the impact of the loans more clearly.

If you’ve got any questions about applying for a postgraduate research degree at BU, please email PGRadmissions@bournemouth.ac.uk

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Doctoral College @ UKCGE Annual Conference 2018

On 2nd-3rd July 2018, the Doctoral College Research Skills and Development Officers Natalie and Clare attended the UK Council for Graduate Education Annual Conference ‘Creating Inclusive Postgraduate Cultures and Communities’ in Bristol where the initial findings of the PGR Communities Questionnaire were presented.

The conference was attended by delegates from UK and International institutions (reaching Australia), policy makers and advisors from the Office of Students, Research England, Advance HE and industry. This was a fantastic opportunity to have discussions with colleagues on how best to support and accommodate an inclusive postgraduate research culture and community. We look forward to exploring further opportunities towards enhancing a strong and vibrant postgraduate research community here at BU.