Bangor University developments to lead to changes for UK research postgraduates

Bangor University’s expertise in improving the student experience is set to benefit other UK institutions, following the University’s selection for an award of funding by the Higher Education Academy.

The Award made to Bangor University will allow the University to develop institutional strategies that can be shared among the sector in order to improve the experience for postgraduate research students.

Following  the recent introduction of a series of measures to improve the student experience for undergraduate and taught Masters students at Bangor University, the University has risen stratospherically through the National Student Satisfaction tables from a respectable 68th to 7th in the UK and top in Wales.

This was achieved by a range of initiatives, including introducing student feedback management systems which maximise student engagement.

The University is now to combine this with a number of other initiatives in order to develop similar strategies and apply them to the more complex area of doctoral research students. The new strategy aims to enhance transparency and improve access to information about the postgraduate research student experience, resulting in more engagement of students in the research community, and more successful and timely completions.

“We are delighted both that our achievements and expertise have been recognised by the Higher Education Academy, and to be taking our place among the 34 institutions in the UK selected to developing specific areas which will then be shared among the sector to further improve the quality of higher education in the UK,” said Professor John G Hughes, Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University.

Dr Anita Malhotra, Head of the University Doctoral School explained:

“The new model will draw together success in other initiatives such as the pan Wales KESS programme, developed and managed by Bangor University, which provides a cohesive structure, adding high-level skills training to the traditional academic research area, and the Doctoral School, which provides a supportive environment for research students at the University.”  

“The very varied nature of research conducted by students makes regularising contact a challenge, recognised as being one that all universities need to address.  One aspect of the strategy to be developed will focus on providing approaches such as project-management techniques to enable students to better manage their research, along with accreditation for associated training that the doctoral students will also accumulate during their research. This will be complemented by on-line systems to regularise the support and allow doctoral students to take greater control of their interactions with supervisors. The project will be achieved by consultation with staff and students throughout the process.”

Commenting on the 80 submissions received from UK universities for the awards, Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “This initiative is about recognising the leadership that brings about change; it’s about encouraging the development of excellence strategies; and it’s about sharing best practice for the benefit of students across higher education.  In sharing best practice, we aim to support the development of high impact approaches to excellence and create tangible learning and teaching resources and case studies that we can disseminate to the sector.

“As the champion of teaching quality, the HEA is uniquely placed to use its networks to collaborate with HE providers in sharing strategies which I’m confident will improve student outcomes.”

Publication date: 30 July 2015