Chair’s Quarterly Blog — Autumn 2016


Chair’s Quarterly Blog — Autumn 2016

Since my last blog, the Council have been considering the impact of leaving the EU and the implications it will have for our Higher Education institutions. During the Annual Conference in Liverpool, we considered the ways in which Brexit was already, only a short time after the referendum vote, tearing the UK’s Higher Education systems apart, with EU staff and EU students and applicants feeling destabilized and stigmatized and UK academics being pulled off EU grant bids. 

One of our key challenges will be maintaining the quality and diversity of postgraduate students in the UK and recruiting and retaining world class academic staff from the EU and outside it as they contribute so much to the excellence of postgraduate education and the quality of our research on which strong postgraduate programmes rest. With this in mind, I have already had conversations with many of our members about the challenges you think your institutions will be facing and I hope to engage with more of you over this academic year in order to consider how to address these concerns.

Our Annual Conference in 2017 in Porto, Portugal, entitled Postgraduate Education in the European Context; successes, challenges and futures’ will explore how we can continue the UK’s longstanding collaboration with other EU higher education systems and institutions and reiterate that our higher education system remains European.

The Council is very much looking forward to learning who the winners are at this year’s THE Awards, as the Council is sponsoring a new award for Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year. This award attracted more applicants than any other award this year and I was delighted to be invited to sit on the judging panel. There are some excellent finalists this year across all the categories and on behalf of the Council, I wish them all the very best of luck for the awards night and offer them my congratulations on being shortlisted.

We have a very full events programme for the coming academic year including the launch event of the Research Supervisors Network in February and the third International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training in April. I very much hope I can meet with many of you during the course of the year. We also have a number of resources planned for publication from the work of our Working Groups and Networks. In this newsletter, the Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools Network are collating information through a short survey on the added value of PGR students, for which we would really value your input. The resulting report will be invaluable for informing the wider membership.

Many of you will be aware of the latest national HEA PTES results that were released earlier this month which noted that 83% of respondents satisfied with their course. Other positive trends were also demonstrated across the majority of institutions. Unmanageable workload remains a concern, particularly for those on vocational programmes. Our Working Group on the Postgraduate Student Experience will be presenting its research about supporting the journey to independent learning in PGT education in January 2017, followed by a seminar session to consider the results and key themes in February.

Meanwhile, I hope that everyone’s terms or semesters have started well despite the gloom induced by the uncertainty over a post-Brexit future for UK HE. Please do let us have your news and stories relevant to any aspect of postgraduate education; we are always keen to hear from you. 


Professor Rosemary Deem OBE, Chair