It’s been a while since my last blog post so there is lots of news.
During the last couple of months we have been working hard on the detail of the new Doctoral College structures and have been consulting on them with affected staff. We received a wide range of feedback and identified a number of key themes which merited further attention. These have been taken on board in determining the final shape of the College which has now been agreed by VCG.
A massive thanks from me to all those who have contributed, either individually or collectively to that process. Periods of change can be really unsettling for everyone involved and the professional and constructive manner in which you have engaged has been truly inspirational.
Now the exciting part begins where we bring the new structures to life! There is no doubt that having the new structures operational for next academic year will bring plenty of challenges. It will need a big communal effort to effect the changes as well as keeping existing arrangements running smoothly in the intervening period. The changes will be formally effective from 1st August 2017 but it is important that we start work before then on building the new teams and the processes that they will operate. The close interworking of all staff across the different teams and their flexibility during the period of transition will be crucial to the success of these changes. I know that everyone involved in the Doctoral College is absolutely committed to making sure that we maintain continuity of service for students and academic staff.
Most positions in the new structure will be filled by staff who are already experienced in supporting our doctoral community through their work in the Graduate Schools, School of Management and elsewhere. Their expertise will be invaluable. In particular Simon Gane (currently Graduate School Manager in the Faculty of Science) will take on the role of Head of Doctoral Recruitment & Programmes and John Brice (currently Graduate School Manager in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences) will become the new Head of Doctoral Development and Student Experience. The University is currently engaged in recruiting to the role of the Academic Director of the Doctoral College. There will also be a small number of new vacancies which will be advertised shortly.
The new Doctoral College will have its physical home in 10 West which will provide co-location space for various sub-teams as well as providing for a front office/ reception in a convenient location close to the Graduate Commons.
Alongside the plans to develop the Doctoral College the University has taken the opportunity to revisit its arrangements for the academic governance of doctoral study for 2017/18 onwards. The proposals are currently being considered through the University’s committee structures and will be recommended to Senate in early June. This will mean some changes to the way doctoral business is operated. More information to follow.
I’ll be posting more updates on this blog as we go along (I promise to do better from here on in!) and staff can also follow project progress in more detail on the dedicated wiki. The wiki has details of the new structures, contact information, and a Q&A page which we intend to update regularly covering matters such as the rationale for the changes and the transitional arrangements. It also has a simple listing of events which may be of special interest to doctoral students and their supervisors. It is very basic and we will be looking to develop something more dynamic to support our doctoral community as part of the Doctoral College online presence. It may provide a handy point of reference in the meantime though.
As a member of staff you can access the Doctoral College wiki here. If you would like to raise any other questions do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
There have been a number of recent opportunities for staff to hear about the plans. In particular it was great to see so many academic staff at the open meeting hosted by Jonathan Knight, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) on 26th April at which he outlined the Doctoral College proposals and was on the receiving end of lots of insightful questions. If you weren’t able to come along to that the posters from the session are on the Wiki. The Vice Chancellor also focused on the Doctoral College plans and the University’s ambitions for doctoral study at the meeting of Academic Assembly on 2nd May. Jonathan and I were also lucky enough to be invited along to a recent AUA meeting to discuss the plans with professional services staff.
During the next few weeks we will be focusing in particular on communicating the changes to doctoral students (current and prospective) and their supervisors. If you have any thoughts about how to best do this I would be happy to hear your ideas.
In my last post I referred to the series of workshops held in January with professional services staff. The output of these workshops has been immeasurably useful in the discussions around the shape of the emerging Doctoral College. As we go forward into the transition to the new structures they will continue to be used to inform best practice.
As ever, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about our doctoral provision.