Q - In terms of the growth of the postgraduate student number, what sort of funding arrangements are going to be in place in order to grow the number significantly as you want to? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: One change that is going to be happening soon is that the UK Government is going to introduce loans for postgraduate taught provision. The scale of the loans available will make a significant impact on what is available to people and how we can use these as a part of the expansion.
I do not propose that we grow suddenly. What we want is a considered growth alongside the funding options as they become available, some of which will be related to our international profile of University activity.
Professor Jonathan Knight: Through many of our postgraduate programmes we will be looking for a mix of UK, EU and international students, and that is beneficial in financial terms. This combination makes the University an attractive option for investment and is also something that local and international students are looking for in their place of study.
In postgraduate research there are no single easy answers. In my career it has usually been the case that you have the money but you don’t have the student, or you have the student but you don’t have the money.
We need to put a framework in place to get high quality PGR students and any framework that we put in place to attract students, I think will also attract investment. Our approach does need to be focussed, we need to look at what areas we can create packages in that will attract both investment and students.
Q - Where are you going to house the proposed extra postgraduate students? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Steve Egan: There are still development opportunities on campus that are being explored. We are looking into developing accommodation on and off-campus which not only provides the numbers, but the quality that this type of student would expect. Looking at other institutions that have a high number of postgraduate students, it is clear that they have a different set of needs to undergraduates. It is not just about producing more of the same, it is about producing something different that would be part of the package that would attract them to the University of Bath.
Q - What are you going to do to encourage more women into postgraduate science study? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: Currently we are subscribed to the Aurora Project in terms of supporting women, we are encouraging all departments to take part in the Athena Swan Initiative, and other projects are going on simultaneously and are successful, but there are still things that we need to learn to do better. The will is there, it is a question of knowing how to make it happen, and it is something that we are working on.
Q - What are you going to do to support people with mental health issues? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: A very significant set of questions need to be asked to identify the University’s role in this area, and how we work with other organisations across the NHS and social care services in a way which is effective. This needs to be addressed, not just by this institution, but all institutions over the next few years.
Q - Will the growth in postgraduate recruitment come with a growth in Widening Participation activities in PGT and PGR recruitment? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: The extent to which we can do that effectively depends upon the design of the model that the Government has for its new loans structure, for PGT in particular. From what has been released by the Government so far, I understand that there will be an attempt to use the loans structure to encourage those that would otherwise not be able to participate in postgraduate education to go on and continue their studies. We need to gear up to take advantage of the new loans structure.
Professor Bernie Morley: Up until now the Office for Fair Access has not allowed us to use our access funds for postgraduate education. We have negotiated an agreement with the Director of Office where we have been able to give several bursaries to postgraduate students with WP characteristics. This is not standard practice. In the past I have written letters to the Director of Office requesting to use our funds to support them moving on to postgraduate education at another institution, but we have been denied.
The system works on the same premise as our current work with schools: if the students go to another university that is a success for which we get no credit, as we only get credit for those who come here. It is unfortunate if that is the same for postgraduates, we are not allowed to support students who move on elsewhere, but only our students who stay here for postgraduate education. The system does not allow for that currently, but hopefully with the new loans scheme that will change.
Q - You said there will not be expansion for PGR all across the board, but regulated in areas where it was strategic to invest; I wonder if you could tell us what the mechanism will be to make those decisions? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Jonathan Knight: Just to clarify – we will not restrict research student growth in any areas. My point was answering the question of where the funding would come from to address these areas, and I think it is realistic to say that we would struggle to find funding in every area.
It is inevitable that we will have to invest in certain areas to make it work. I think that there is a relatively wide variability in the quality of PGR student provision and what we believe is essential is to provide a uniformly high level of research student experience.
As to the mechanism, there is not currently a long term answer for that. In the long term we will have to respond to the opportunities that are out there in terms of students and funders. In the shorter term we need to look at where there is capacity, and where there is good practice that we can build in. Currently this conversation is taking place at a point in the development of ideas which is relatively early, so we do not have a fully formulated mechanism in place yet.
Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: Whatever that mechanism is, it will be developed with engagement with the academic community, we will need the best ideas coming forward from the entire community to help us make sure the University is going forward in the right direction.