UKCGE Launches Pilot for Research Supervision Recognition Programme-Setting Benchmark For Good Practice in Research Supervision

The UK Council for Graduate Education has launched a pilot scheme exploring the feasibility of a Research Supervision Recognition Programme to set a benchmark for good-practice in research supervision. Read the article to find out more. 

UKCGE Launches Pilot for Research Supervision Recognition Programme-Setting Benchmark For Good Practice in Research Supervision

Research Supervision Recognition Programme

Following the success of the pilot programme, the Research Supervision Recognition Programme is now live. For more information about the programme and to view the Good Supervisory Practice Framework: 

Visit the Research Supervision Recognition Programme website.

The UK Council for Graduate Education has launched a pilot scheme exploring the feasibility of a Research Supervision Recognition Programme to set a benchmark for good-practice in research supervision and shine a light on this underappreciated area of academic practice.

The Recognition Programme is being piloted at 13 institutions across England, Wales and Scotland with 55 supervisors participating in the scheme. The pilot institutions are:

  • University College London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of York
  • Swansea University
  • University of Wales Trinity St David
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Brighton
  • Coventry University
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • University of East Anglia
  • Bournemouth University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Glasgow.

Of their participation in the pilot, Dr Alex Standen, Associate Director, Early Career Academic and Research Supervisor Development at UCLs Arena Centre for Research-based Education, said:

As a research-intensive institution with over 6,000 PhD students, we were delighted to be invited to take part in the UKCGE Research Supervision Recognition Programme Pilot and explore with UKCGE how supervisory practice can be recognised and celebrated at UCL. We have recently enhanced the training and development we offer to new supervisors and the Recognition Programme will offer a way for supervisors to continue their professional development by reflecting on their experience and having their achievements recognised.”

Dr Fiona Knight, Academic Manager at Bournemouth Universitys Doctoral College said:

Bournemouth University is continually identifying mechanisms to improve the experience of our PGRs and recognise that the quality of the supervisory relationship is central to this. We welcome this scheme as a way of encouraging our new and established supervisors to reflect on their practice whilst engaging with continuing professional development.”

Dr Annette Fillery-Travis, Head of the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning at University of Wales Trinity St David said:

Doctoral supervision is one of the highest levels of scholarly activity within the academic profession and has the complexity expected of such work. The demands on the supervisor in terms of academic rigor, insight and relational acuity are many and deserve acknowledgement and accreditation. UWTSD are delighted to be part of this pilot as it speaks to our commitment to excellence in Research Supervision.”

Setting an Expected Standard for An Essential Role

Supervisors play an essential role in influencing candidates’ chances of completing on time, in determining the quality of their final outputs and, most crucially of all, in shaping their experiences as research students. The importance of good research supervision is, therefore, hard to overstate.

While the standard of research supervision in the UK is encouragingly high, as consistently evidenced by candidate responses in the PRES, it is often the case that supervisors feel undervalued and overwhelmed by the scale of their task that is often undertaken in addition to many other academic responsibilities.

The Research Supervision Recognition Programme will shine a light on this underappreciated area of academic practice and recognise the achievements of the many thousands of supervisors skilfully and diligently working at higher education institutions across the UK.

The criteria used to define good practice are based on the substantive body of academic literature1. Distilled to ten criteria of good supervision, these cover areas of practice from recruiting potential candidates to assisting them through their final examination. The programme embraces self-reflection as an enabler of professional development, with a reflection on supervisory practice against the criteria at its heart.

Developed by the Sector, For the Sector

The Recognition Programme, initiated following a consultation with UKCGE members, has been designed by the renowned research supervisor development expert, Dr Stan Taylor of Durham University.

Of the Recognition Programme, Dr Taylor said:

Historically, the view was that if one can do research, then presumably one can supervise it”, and this was underpinned by the master-apprentice’ model of supervision whereby the supervisor demonstrated and the student emulated which implied a largely passive role for the former.

However, in recent years there have been massive changes in doctoral education, including commodification, massification, diversification, and regulation, that have transformed supervision. The latter now involves supervisors in undertaking a set of highly complex roles in supporting their students to become researchers and performing them in a challenging and often turbulent environment.

Unfortunately, these changes in the roles and responsibilities of supervisors have not always been acknowledged by national bodies or by institutions, which have continued to treat supervision as a labour of love to be carried out without recognition or reward.

In this context, I am delighted that the UKCGE has launched a pilot scheme to recognise research supervisors and honoured to have been involved in its development. The scheme seeks to establish benchmarks for good supervisory practice and to enable supervisors who meet them to gain recognised status.

My hope is that such status will help to raise the profile of this vital area of academic practice and become a kitemark for supervisory expertise to students, colleagues, departments, and higher education institutions, both in the UK and internationally’.

In keeping with the UKCGE’s charitable ethos, all documentation and materials from the Programme will be freely available to UKCGE members, allowing any research supervisor who wants to improve their practice, or institution that wishes to embed them in their own supervisory development programmes, the opportunity to do so.

Additionally, the criteria of good supervisory practice will be part of a public consultation during May.

An Ongoing Commitment to Supporting Supervisors

The UK Council for Graduate Education has a long-standing commitment to supporting supervisors and raising awareness of their invaluable role in doctoral education. In 2016, the UKCGE created the Research Supervisors Network and introduced the Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year” category at the Times Higher Education Awards. This annual award, recognising the achievement of one individual, has already helped to move research supervision up the agenda. Creating the Research Supervision Recognition Programme builds on that award, enabling every supervisor to be recognised for their achievements.

Dr Gill Houston, Chair of the UK Council for Graduate Education, said:

In addition to enabling supervisors to demonstrate their ability to colleagues and candidates, it is our ambition that the criteria underpinning the programme will create a benchmark that becomes the standard for effective supervisory practice. The pilot is essential to the long-term success of the scheme; on behalf of the Council I would like to thank all the pilot institutions and participants for giving their time to help shape a programme that could have a national impact on the quality of research supervision.”


  1. The pilot runs until 31st May 2019.
  2. The public consultation on the criteria of good-supervision runs from 6th May 2019 until 31st May 2019.
  3. The full Recognition Programme is planned to be launched at the UKCGE’s Annual Conference 2019 in Salford on the 1st July 2019.

For more information about the Research Supervision Recognition Programme, the pilot, or the public consultation please contact