- Previous events
- Vitae researcher development conference 2008
- Workshop programme NEW UPDATE December 08
- D6 Workshop summary and outcomes
D6 Workshop summary and outcomes
Personal and career development with overseas researchers
Dr Lowry McComb, Director of Postgraduate Training, Durham University and Dr Claire McNulty, British Council
Postgraduate international students make a vital contribution to the UK's research base, representing 36% of all postgraduate researchers in the UK. Global competition, the provision of career development and support offered by institutions both as hosts and employers, plays an increasing role in attracting international researchers to positions and longer-term careers in the UK.
This workshop included an overview of some of the common issues. It provided an overview of the British Council's remit and gave examples of other countries' provision. A case study from Durham University then exemplified a strategy for supporting international postgraduate researchers.
This session gave the opportunity to:
- identify with international and UK examples of career and personal development support for international researchers
- understand the work of the British Council
- share experiences (challenges and successes) in supporting the personal and career development of international researchers
- identify current gaps and emerging needs of international researchers in the context of their careers.
Practical assistance for overseas researchers: Claire McNulty
Working in the UK presents a number of common issues for overseas researchers, principally: funding; visas/work permits; tax and social security; career pathway; skills development; ethical issues; and intellectual property.
Issues facing international researchers living in the UK focus on accommodation, finance, family issues such as education, benefits and healthcare.
The British Council is the central support mechanism for overseas researchers in the UK. It does this through ‘Network UK', supported by other web-based resources and also through particular (limited) funding schemes.
Network UK is the UK part of a European Union initiative to remove obstacles to mobility of researchers. Originally comprising a web portal, telephone helpline and twelve local ‘mobility centres', the latter were closed through lack of take up.
Each month around 2,500 unique visitors go to the Network UK site. Most popular pages cover pregnancy and health care. At the European level the EURAXESS portal provides a jobs and funding database as well as information on rights and services across 35 European countries.
Claire compared Network UK's provision and take-up with that in Ireland, the Czech Republic and France, noting that uptake of personalised assistance provided through Network UK was lower than in some other countries. Was personalised assistance not much needed, or not publicised enough in the UK?
View Claire McNulty's presentation .
Durham University case study: Lowry McComb
International researchers currently make up 38% of Durham University's postgraduate researcher (34% taught postgraduate) population. The university's comprehensive approach covers recruitment, pre-arrival support, arrival in the UK, and continuing support throughout their time at Durham. The case study also discussed how provision aligns with Durham's personal development programmes for ‘home' researchers.
Noteworthy features of Durham's approach include:
- pre-arrival briefings via e-zines, handbook and sometimes events
- ‘meet and greet' service, extensive induction arrangements
- pre-sessional English language support, depending on language test scores
- college support (accommodation allocation mixes nationalities)
- support for teaching includes additional sessions for international students
- workshop on finding part-time employment
- pre-departure workshop (on reintegration and employment issues)
- alumni support.
Finally, the presentation identified various alignment issues, associated with: previous experience of research, suitability of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) tests and three-year doctoral funding.
View Lowry McComb's presentation.
Key discussion themes were: cultural aspects; finance and part-time work; managing expectations; visa/work permit changes; disparity of knowledge and skills; adjustment to the UK academic model; isolation; and language difficulties.
Ways forward were identified as:
- fostering good networks (current and alumni, tapping into existing networks eg social networking sites)
- financial good practice - explaining fees, employing monthly payment of fees
- celebrations of different cultures (events)
- mentoring/buddy schemes
- support for international research staff as well as students.
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