In January 2017, the Senate Researcher Experience Committee (REC) approved a comprehensive programme of work designed to investigate, map and enhance the postgraduate research student experience. The Excellence in Doctoral Education and Career Development Programme is made up of three interrelated work streams: supervisor training and support, mentorship and wellbeing and personal and professional development record. For each of these, extensive background work has begun to benchmark and map provision across the institution, to identify examples of good practice and highlight gaps. This will be considered alongside results from the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) and discussion with students and supervisors, to draw up clear areas for enhancement and development.
Examples of areas covered by the programme include; strengthening and enhancing supervisor training and support through development of online resources and optional training, exploring the mentor function for PGR students and identifying different models, conducting benchmarking and analysis of wellbeing support for PGRs and assessing demand and need for mechanisms to record and reflect on the PGR experience.
The programme demonstrates an institutional-level commitment to taking a cohesive and efficient approach to addressing some of the challenges raised by the rapidly changing nature of doctoral education. The Senate Researcher Experience Committee (REC) acts as the Programme board and the work is a standing item on the committee agenda. Central to the work is a need for extensive communication and consultation with all relevant stakeholders (students, supervisors, Colleges, Schools and services). As part of this a PGR Supervisor Network will be launched. This will be open to all doctoral supervisors at the University and will aim to inform supervisors of University initiatives and consult on proposals to better support research supervision. It will also provide a forum for supervisors to meet and share practice. Places can be booked for the lunchtime launch event on the 21st of June.
From late May, discussion groups with postgraduate research students will be held across the institution. Information can be found on the Programme webpages. Progress reports will be published on the webpages as they are produced. We welcome any comments, feedback or suggestions on any of the work.