UKCGE to partner on transformational project for UK research supervision

  • The £4.6million Research SuperVision Project (RSVP) will run for four years from Autumn 2023, led by the University of York.
  • Over 20 universities, plus major industries such as Unilever and the BBC, will contribute to the project.
  • Outputs will include the benchmarking of professional development for research supervision and the creation of world-leading professional development resources.

The UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) is set to collaborate on a £4.6million project, led by the University of York, that has ambitions to transform and professionalise research supervision practice across the UK. 

The Research SuperVision Project (RSVP) will run for four years from Autumn 2023 and has been funded by Research England, with support from UKRI Research Councils and the Wellcome Trust. 

Along with UKCGE, the work will be undertaken by a consortium of five UK Higher Education Institutions (York, Coventry, Kings College London, Nottingham and Sheffield Hallam) which is led by Dr Karen Clegg (University of York) and Professor Doug Cleaver (Sheffield Hallam University). 

A further 15+ universities (including international partners) will be recruited to pilot and evaluate professional development interventions, while major industries (including GSK, Unilever, the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company) will also contribute expertise. 

There are plans to run two iterations of the UK Research Supervisor Survey (first run in 2021) to gauge cultural change. The project will also explore:

  • The role of team supervision.
  • Supervisory practice in different disciplines and contexts.
  • Supervision of different types of research degree.
  • Identification and management of poor supervision’.

Outputs will include:

  • Consistency of approach to supervision supported by benchmarking of the current provision, scale and scope of professional development for research supervision.
  • A blueprint for team supervision. 
  • Self-assessment tools for institutions who wish to refine supervision policies and protocols.
  • Guidance on the efficient management of supervisor workloads.
  • World-leading professional development resources. 
  • Guidelines to enable excellent supervision and tackle poor supervision practice.

Professor Doug Cleaver (Consortium co-lead and Chair of UKCGE) said:

We need to better understand research supervision as a sector, and this project offers us a fantastic opportunity to look at current provision and to develop benchmarks that will help both individuals and institutions across the UK. 

Thanks to generous support from Research England and its partners, this project will also promote greater transparency on the roles of hidden’ supervisors, such as postdoctoral candidates, and help with the management of supervisory workloads. We are delighted to be involved.”

For media enquiries in relation to this release, please contact UKCGE Communications Officer, Dr Annette Rubery.