Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools Network
A forum for senior leaders in postgraduate education to make collective recommendations for the management of postgraduate provision in the UK
The network is open to all Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools (and those with associated roles such as Directors of Doctoral Training Partnerships) operating within the national and international postgraduate community. It is chaired by nominated representatives of the postgraduate sector.
What we do
The network runs 6 meetings per year:
- 3 free-to-attend online ‘town hall’ meetings based on current challenges faced by the community
- 1 thematic online seminar where we take a deep dive into an issue across an afternoon of discussion and debate
- 1 residential meeting, which tackles a number of issues in a 24-hour period, and provides a confidential and collegiate setting in which to share challenges among colleagues
- A symposium at the UKCGE Annual Conference in the summer.
Alongside the personal benefits to members from learning from one another’s experiences, network discussions also inform the Council’s strategy and priorities.
See, for example:
Who runs the network
We strongly believe that the breadth of the UKCGE, across all mission groups, provides fertile ground for high quality conversations, based on evidence and experience, that are trusted by key stakeholders and have real impact.Dr Nigel Eady & Professor Bonnie Steves, co-chairs of the UKCGE DDOGs Network
As we gradually emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, there are a range of significant issues that impact on all actors within the postgraduate community. In this context, the UKCGE Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools Network is an invaluable resource. We have an opportunity that we must seize, to ensure that the views of the sector are front and centre in the minds of key decision-makers.
We strongly believe that the breadth of the UKCGE, across all mission groups, provides fertile ground for high quality conversations, based on evidence and experience, that are trusted by key stakeholders and have real impact.
Here are our top priorities for the network, in no particular order (but please feel free to get in touch with your own suggestions):
Research Culture & Environment
A key, current priority of Graduate Schools is exploring how we can help improve the research culture, environment and conditions for researchers (PGRs, supervisors and staff) at our universities, with a focus on helping people equally to have a good and successful researcher experience.
As set out in the UK R&D Roadmap in July 2020 and R&D People & Culture Strategy in July 2021.
The UK Government proposes through UKRI to conduct deep sector engagement regarding a long-term programme of evaluation and change for postgraduate research. Two UK research councils (ESRC & EPSRC) have already reviewed their approach to doctoral research.
The Supervisor Experience
Rightly there has been much focus on the student experience in the university sector in recent years. However, to some extent, the ‘supervisor experience’ has not had the same level of support & scrutiny. More and more is being expected of supervisors, with little recognition of supervisors’ needs. The UKCGE recently ran the first UK Research Supervision Survey.
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
This important topic must remain in the forefront of our thinking. There are many issues to
consider in the PGR arena:
- Tackling racism, bullying, sexual harassment
- Gender issues – eg better, consistent maternity/parental leave policies for all PgRs
- Mental health and well-being of research students
- Better support for researchers, researching in emotionally demanding areas with vulnerable people and traumatic experiences
- Health and safety support for researchers in their research-related travels and fieldwork
- Better support for researchers returning to study after long absences
- Tackling researcher life balance and workload recognition for supervisors and PgRs
- Making researcher experience surveys work for us in enabling enhancement
Dr Nigel Eady | Director of Research Talent, King’s College London
Professor Bonnie Steves | Director of the Graduate School, Glasgow Caledonian University
Co-Chairs of the UKCGE DDOGs Network
Dr Nigel EadyCo-Chair, UKCGE DDOGs network | Director of Research Talent, King’s College London
Nigel is the Director of Research Talent at King’s College London, a role he’s held for the last 4 years. This role was established when the former university-wide Graduate School evolved into two units – the Centre for Doctoral Studies and the Centre for Research Staff Development – both of which Nigel leads .
In particular, Nigel leads on the delivery of King’s Postgraduate Research Student (PGR) Strategy, working closely with the academic Deans for Doctoral Studies. The Research Talent team looks after all PGR regulations and policies, communications, community-building, scholarships and training & development. Nigel is also the senior Professional Services lead for all KCL Doctoral Training Entities.
Professor Bonnie StevesCo-Chair, UKCGE DDOGs network | Director of the Graduate School, Glasgow Caledonian University
As Director of the Graduate School, Bonnie has responsibility for the development of strategy, policy and practice for doctoral education and researcher development, covering all aspects of researcher experience for postgraduate researchers, supervisors and staff. In 2006, she led the creation at GCU of the first university-wide Graduate School in Scotland. She is now one of the longest serving Deans/Directors of Graduate Schools in the UK, with 15 years’ experience of leading Graduate School teams, cross-university collaborations and inter-institutional projects in researcher development and doctoral education. In that time, GCU have grown from 250 to 650 PgRs. Bonnis has led change from a small central department focused on registry functions to a mature cross-university partnership with Schools and Professional Services.
Professor Doug Cleaver | Director of the Doctoral School | Sheffield Hallam University
Professor Tom Stoneham | Dean of the Graduate Research School | University of York
Professor Liz Peel | Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor | Loughborough Doctoral College
Professor Darren Van Laar | Director of the Graduate School | University of Portsmouth