UKCGE 2015 Annual Conference captures practice to alleviate postgraduate isolation

In her closing summary at the UK Council for Graduate Education’s Annual Conference 2015, Professor Rosemary Deem, the new Chair of the UKCGE Executive Committee drew proceedings to a close by focusing on the issues surrounding the isolation of students. 

UKCGE 2015 Annual Conference captures practice to alleviate postgraduate isolation

The Annual Conference, which took place at the Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow, brought together more than 120 UKCGE members and supporters from UK, European, North American and Australasian Universities.

Professor Deem said, Networks, cohorts and communities are a very important part of the research student experience. Through the conference we have been able to explore many different ways of supporting postgraduate students and understand just how important these structures (and people) are in alleviating student isolation.”

The Conference programme encompassed plenary talks from a number of international speakers including Professor Scott Thomas (Clermont University & President-Elect Association for the Study of Higher Education, USA) who discussed Academic Socialization and Social Support at the Postgraduate Level”, Professor Carlinda Leite (Universidade do Porto, Portugal) focused on Student experiences and building communities in education doctoral programmes in Portugal” and Dr Lucas Zinner (University of Vienna, Austria) spoke about Focusing on the professional in doctoral education – an LLP Funded Project”.

The event also reviewed practice within the UK including a plenary talk from Dr Colin Pilbeam (Cranfield University) on Supported and stimulated or side-lined and self-directed: Experiencing doctoral student networks.” The final session of the Conference focused on the perspectives of Scottish Institutions, with Professor Bonnie Steves (Glasgow Caledonian University), Professor Deirdre Heddon (University of Glasgow) and Michael Rayner (University of the Highlands and Islands) each speaking about networks and communities both within their own institutions and outside (through Doctoral Training Partnerships and other collaborations).

In reference to the plenary talks and presented papers, The Council’s new chair gave the following advice to delegates,

It is important that when we look to take away practice from this conference, we try to put it in our own context. Not everything we try does work everywhere and I think that it’s as important to discuss the mistakes and things that haven’t quite worked alongside those that have because that will help us learn as a sector and ensure we are all not constantly reinventing the wheel.’

In bringing the conference to a close, Professor Deem who is also Dean of the Doctoral School and Vice Principal (Education) at Royal Holloway University of London said,

I would like to thank the organising team, office staff and our hosts, The Grand Central. I also want to thank Baillie Liz Cameron representing the Lord Provost of Glasgow for her speech to us last night, all the plenary speakers, all those who have presented and all of you have taken part in the discussions. I hope it has been a very fruitful conference for you and that you return home safely with new ideas and new contacts. We look forward to seeing you in future.”

UKCGE Members can review presentations made at the event through event archive pages on the Council’s website.

Images: Speakers (left to right), Dr Karen Walker, University of Oxford, Professor Calinda Leite, University of Porto (Portugal) and Professor Scott Thomas, Clermont University (USA).