UKRI Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training – Implications for Practice

  • Past Events

On April 12th 2024, we held an online event about UKRI’s Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training. The session was collectively hosted by Dr Karen Clegg (University of York), Rachel Van Krimpen (University of Nottingham) and Dr Heather Sears (Coventry University).

In January 2024, UKRI released its latest Statement of Expectations, which replaced the previous statement published in 2016. It applies to all UKRI doctoral provision and supported by the endorsing funders. Three core principles underpin the development of the Statement:

  • Simplification. Removing complexity to improve understanding and increase efficiency.
  • Flexibility. Enabling the tailoring of schemes, training programmes, and/​or individual studentships to better achieve their aims and ambitions, ensuring students’ equitable access to the highest quality skills and knowledge development.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion. Supporting the progression of a diverse population of students into a range of research and innovation careers by accommodating diverse student needs and career aspirations.

Our session opened with a welcome and introduction from Dr Karen Clegg. Karen gave an overview of the policy affecting the doctoral research landscape and identified the key differences between the 2016 and 2024 statements She observed that there had not been major changes, but that the points were more nuanced. She also flagged up a couple of challenges as a prelude to further discussion.

  • BBSRC and NERC have moved away from Doctoral Training Programmes to Landscape and Focal awards.
  • Finance – reduced budgets and capacity which threaten research organisation’s capacity to provide individualised support and to enable interdisciplinary approaches.

The session was structured around the Statement’s desired outcomes. Rachel Van Krimpen began by introducing herself and talking about her experience working on Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and well as in student support and welfare. She then led a session around the following question:

How can funders support these areas?

  • Training tailored to meet the needs of PGRs from diverse backgrounds.
  • Impacts of EDI interventions.
  • High quality supervision.
  • Well-being and support provision.

A lively discussion followed, after which Rachel picked up on the issue of mental health and well-being, observing that good practice in this area involved recognising PGRs as a distinct group, and also being clear about who held responsibility for ensuring well-being.

After further discussions and a break, Dr Clegg welcomed attendees back to the workshop. She spoke about the provision of skills and training” for researchers, adding that many research organisations prefer the term professional or researcher development”. She then picked up a reference in the Statement to third-sector participants being co-creators” and delivering” the training. Dr Clegg felt there had been a step-change from 2016, adding that the language used now was more nuanced than previously. She then outlined her role as a Co-PI in the Next Generation Research SuperVision Project (RSVP), which aims to transform the culture and practice of research supervision in the UK.

Finally, Dr Sears rounded the event off with a section on professional and career development, in which she facilitated an open discussion on the relevant section of UKRI’s report. How do we persuade our candidates to consider their careers in their first year (apart from academia)?” she asked. I’ve steered cohorts on the arts and humanities side through career decisions and I’ve found them very against the instrumentalisation of the PhD,” remarked one attendee, The thing [to do] would be to ask students what they want out of a PhD and also to talk to careers services.”

Do you have an idea for an event you would like to run in partnership with UKCGE? 

We’re keen to hear your ideas for topics and we can also help you to run an event. 
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