QAA Scotland has published an array of resources to support the enhancement of the PGR student experience following the completion of the 2016-17 Focus On project. During 2012-16, aspects of the PGR Student Experience arose as areas for development in 13 out of 18 Enhancement-led Institutional Reviews. As a result, we selected the PGR student experience as a topic for one of our Focus On projects, exploring:
Training and support for postgraduates who teach
A number of resources were produced as part of this strand: a Scottish, rest of UK (rUK) and international scan of current policy and practice for PGWT outlining at a glance what institutions provide for PGWT in terms of policy, pay, training and recognition. A statement of expectation for the support of PGWTwas also produced to enable institutions to benchmark and evaluate their own practice in this area against good practice recommendations identified in the UK and beyond. A key issues for discussion paper is also available intended to generate conversations about how to enhance PGWT support, as well as a film called ‘What I wish I’d known when I started teaching’ with current PGWT discussing their experiences and tips of teaching which can be used as an additional resource at PGWT training.
Support for staff who supervise research students
As part of this strand two films were produced for research supervisors: ‘Developing Effective Supervision Practice’and ‘Supporting Industry-based Supervisors’ which were supplemented by a suite of films from the University of Glasgow on aspects of good practice in research supervision. In addition two webinars on: ‘Setting expectations - clarifying roles, preferences and working practices’and ‘Supporting your student to complete – some ideas about motivation and how to manage the thesis writing process effectively’.
Building a research community for PGRs
This project explored what ‘research community’ means and how we can best provide a sense of community to our postgraduate students to enhance their experience. A desk-based examination of Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) reports and Research Excellence Framework (REF) environment submissions relating to 18 Scottish higher education institutions was produced, as well as a report on the findings of telephone interviews and focus group discussion with staff and PGR students on building a research community. In addition a key issues for discussion document was produced intended to help generate conversations within institutions about how research communities can be developed and enhanced.
Student representation for PGRs
To support this strand, a PGR focus group was held with students from a variety of institutions working in different representational structures. Outcomes from this were presented at the Focus On: the PGR student Experience project dissemination event in May and can be viewed on our website.
For more information on this or the Institution-led Review project we ran this year, please visit the Enhancement Themes website or contact project lead, Debra Macfarlane.