Dr Sally Clift, Faculty Director of Doctoral Studies, explains how the University Research Studentship Allowance (URSA) awards are allocated.
Each year, the Faculty is allocated a number of URSA studentships to award to potential PhD students. There are two selection rounds, one in semester 1 and the other in semester 2. This is to give as many students as possible the opportunity to apply for an award.
After the closing date for the first round, the Doctoral College prepared the applications for Professor Davide Mattia, Associate Dean (Research) and me to review. We were really impressed by the quality and number of applications (there were 23 in total).
Davide and I independently drew up our shortlists. I created my shortlist by carefully reading through each application first and then removing any which were not a first class (or international equivalent) profile. There were 18 outstanding applications in total.
Next, any applications with Faculty priority group supervisors (new members of academic staff not previously in receipt of a studentship award) were put at the top of the list for funding. There were 5 of these. Then the student with the strongest academic background from the rest of the applications was identified and added to my proposed list.
Once we had created our shortlists, Davide and I met to agree a combined list, which was not difficult as we were pretty much in agreement. Our final list of 6 proposed awards was then considered, and subsequently approved, by the Dean. The Doctoral College then notified both successful and unsuccessful students and supervisors.
We were very pleased that colleagues had secured such strong applicants, but we were disappointed that we were unable to offer studentships to all of the outstanding students who applied.