- Database of practice
- Transferable Skills Training provision for graduate students in the Graduate School of Life Sciences: Introductory Course
Transferable Skills Training provision for graduate students in the Graduate School of Life Sciences: Introductory Course
- University of Cambridge
- East of England
- Date first submitted:
- 11 Nov 2008
- Date last modified:
- 23 Dec 2009
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Enterprise-related activities
- Postgraduate researchers
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?
This course supplements Departmental and Institute induction courses. It looks at the nature of Cambridge University, and of research degrees, and then provides a first taste of the skills training available across the whole TST framework, including bioethics, enterprise and entrepreneurship etc., as well as the Roberts skills portfolio. The course is intended to highlight the importance of transferable and entrepreneurial skills training courses to new research students, and it is hoped that this will encourage attendance on the voluntary courses, which have in the past been undersubscribed. Skills training provision within the school has also increased over the last 4 years so it was felt an overview of what is available was now needed at the start of the academic year in order to maximise the impact of the provision.
The Graduate School of Life Sciences is one of the leading providers of graduate training courses in the University. We currently provide courses that cover all of the Roberts agenda training categories. In addition to serving graduate students, post-doctoral researchers are provided for by a dedicated careers officer (see www.vitae.ac.uk/dop/494.html). Our provision interfaces with that of other Schools of the University through a training team including members of other Schools of the University, which provides a proportion of TST courses. In addition, some of our courses are provided by the University’s computing and careers services and by the Centre for Entrpreneurial Learning and Judge Business School. All of these course providers are also introduced in the Introductory course. The introduced courses cover all areas of the Roberts agenda. The student approaches TST through: 1) This compulsory introductory course that introduces new graduate students to the various courses available to them and highlights their benefits for career development. 2) A training needs analysis conducted by student and supervisor. 3) A broad range of courses covering project specific and transferable skills. 4) A website that allows graduate students to browse, choose and book courses according to their needs. 5) A mechanism for collecting feedback and monitoring quality for each course. 6) A Graduate Education Committee that provides strategic direction for courses provision.
This course has been running since 2007. It offers a series of short talks: a welcome address from a senior academic (Head of a School or higher); an introduction to the University’s structures; an introduction to the nature of research degrees and some talks from existing students; some particulars of good scientific practice (record keeping; how to avoid plagiarism etc.); several talks about aspects of transferable skills training, introductions to the graduate union and to a number of scientific societies etc. and finally research talks from well known scientists. It is followed by a social for all participants for which we use the zoology museum as a venue.
Graduate students are expected to put 10 days per year into transferable skills training. Our aim is to allow them to understand how to find and select appropriate training for them.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
This is an introductory course for students in their first few weeks of study.
This course runs as a large course in October (320-350 students), followed by a smaller repeat in January (80-100) students. We are reaching over 90% of our entry between the two courses.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
Benefits from this course can be measured through uptake of other TST courses. This has increased by around 15% in the last year. External speakers also enjoy it, and it is an opportunity to show senior academics the scale of graduate provision. (Putting 400 PhD students in one room creates quite an impression!)
The level of induction offered by different Departments and Institutes to new students varies across the graduate School. A major challenge consist in something new and fresh that is not delivered at Departmental Graduate inductions, but covers all bases for those who do not have a Departmental induction.
This course is bedding in. We may re-run as a single day instead of two half days.