PEP Workshop 2023

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On the afternoon of November 30th 2023, the Postgraduate Education Practitioners’ Network held an Online Workshop for practitioners involved in the administration or management of postgraduate education and research.

Proceedings were opened by Kerri Gardiner (PEP Co-Chair and Head of the Postgraduate Research Office at the University of Cambridge), who welcomed attendees and congratulated Susanna Broom (Head of the Doctoral School at the University of Sussex) on joining the Network as a Co-Chair. 

First on the agenda was a short presentation by Dr Rhys Morgan (Head of Research Policy, Governance and Integrity, University of Cambridge) about export control and how it relates to postgraduate research students. Having given us a definition of export control, Dr Morgan went on to explore the risks, for example: individuals going abroad and taking university laptops with them. This, he explained, is classed as an export and is a risk even if the student doesn’t use the machine because it may be stolen or confiscated by border police. He also spoke about how downloading controlled material from a UK server while abroad would also constitute an export. 

He concluded with some advice about managing the risks. Two steps are to educate postgraduate students about export control while emphasising the need for them to familiarise themselves with institutional guidance, since breaches in protocol would bring with it a personal liability. Research Offices should support all researchers with proactive advice,” he added.

Following a question-and-answer session, Susanna Broom opened the second half of the workshop, themed around recruiting UK students: This is one of those topics that comes around in a cyclical way and we want to get a sense of what the trends are in the sector,” she said before attendees were put into breakout groups. After the individual group discussions were finished, attendees reconvened to share their findings. Whose strategy is it that our numbers continue to grow?” questioned one participant; another observed that undergraduate and taught postgraduate students seem to be a big priority in universities, whereas they would like to see more emphasis put on PhD students. Better advertisements are needed centrally and a more consistent strategy.”

The session ended with a brief update from Kerri on why the name of the network has changed from the Graduate Managers’ to the Postgraduate Education Practitioners’ Network. We thought it was an opportunity for this network to be an inclusive, safe space and not necessarily for those at a managerial level,” she said.

Susanna added: Quite often the PGR experience is the forgotten experience – but in fact we are all experts in this space. The network is an opportunity to champion this expertise within the wider UKCGE community and, in time, champion it in our institutions. We are always open to ideas from you!”

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