Managing Supervisory Loads by Centrally Limiting Student Numbers: An Investigation into practice in institutions in the UK

Stan Taylor

Honorary Professor, School of Education, University of Durham and Honorary Life Member of the UKCGE

This paper investigates whether there are centrally-set numerical limits on numbers of doctoral candidates per supervisor

There are various ways in which supervisory workloads can be managed by institutions, including limiting the numbers of students that supervisors can supervise. While in many institutions the determination of such limits is devolved to departments or schools, in others they are set centrally by the institution as a whole. In the former case, information is not usually available outside the institution, but centrally-set numerical limits are often embodied in publicly-available documents, including research degree regulations, codes of practice, and supervisor and student handbooks. The present paper seeks to use these sources to explore the numerical limits set centrally by higher education institutions in the UK.

HEIs had publicly-available limits 
Specified 6 doctoral candidates or fewer 
Had specified a limit greater than 8