PGR representation - making things happen
- University of Glasgow
- Date first submitted:
- 21 Feb 2011
- Date last modified:
- 21 Feb 2011
- Researcher-led activities
- Academic practice
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
- Doctoral researchers
- Research masters
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
As innovative, creative problem solvers, our PGRs are of the calibre to be future industrial, Governmental and academic leaders. At Glasgow, the SRC and the University’s Researcher Development Initiative have a joint vision of releasing and investing in this human capital now – to influence and develop University policy and deliver transformational change to an organisation. We want to help our PGRs establish a professional identity, develop high-level skills for their future careers and also gather tangible evidence of these skills.
The PGR population at Glasgow has not traditionally engaged in student representation through the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). This may be because PGRs perceive the SRC to serve only the undergraduate population. However, our diverse PGR community could make an excellent contribution to strategic decision making and policy formation in the University – a fact recognised by both the SRC and university senior management.
This is a short term project with the following desired outcomes:
1. A report on student perceptions of representation and the factors influencing engagement with representative systems (resulting from focus group discussions)
2. Development of training for PGR reps to enable them to consult effectively with their peers, contribute to the committees they are part of (at local and University level) and play an important role in shaping university policy
3. Updating of the University's code of practice for student representation
4. Sharing of practice and what we've learnt with other institutions.
This project aims to empower students and the development of training is therefore led by a current research student and former rep, in collaboration with the SRC (PG Convenor).
The aim is to deliver ownership of the project to the reps and they are already taking this forward by developing their own networks and succession planning.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
We have around 18 reps, across 4 Colleges. We anticipate that the training can be run in future years.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
This is a very important step in building effective relationships between the University's PGR support services, the SRC and the PGR community. We see it as part of a longterm partnership which brings benefits for
A key outcome will be the personal and professional development of the PGR representatives, who will have the opportunity to input to institutional policy, understand decision making processes and access training to support them in this. The ‘hands-on’ nature of the opportunity means they will gain an awareness and tangible evidence of their skills.
Researchers will benefit from an institution with a better understanding and awareness of their needs and which is more responsive to the changing nature of a research degree.
Institutions will benefit from the wealth of talent and ideas they will access through an effective PGR representation system. University staff will be better informed and equipped to work in partnership with PGRs and representative structures, with an awareness of the benefits and challenges of doing so.
Across the UK it is generally recognised that student representative organisations have a strong bias towards undergraduate representation. This project will be of considerable benefit to Glasgow University SRC in enhancing its inclusive approach; empowered and informed PGRs representatives will ensure previous imbalances are addressed.
Longer term impacts will be a population of graduates better able to input to strategic decision making and policy formation in their chosen sector.
We need to challenge perceptions that representation is only for undergrads and that the university is too large an institution for any change to be effected. Our focus groups and report at the beginning of the project have been key to understanding the challenges involved and helping us to focus on how we can foster a more intrapreneurial culture. Just putting reps from across the university in contact has already helped with this!
We hope that each cohort of PGR reps will be more effective than the previous as they will have support from previous reps, as well as a growing body of resources to draw upon. The aim is for this training to be fully embedded in the PGR experience and for its ownership to lie with students.
We can see huge benefits for the institution in being more responsive to student needs.