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The interdisciplinary nature of many topics, together with the complexities of University’s academic structures (and consequently its website) mean that there is no easy way for a prospective PGR (Post Graduate Research) student to identify relevant PGR opportunities on the basis of their academic interests. This can lead to prospective students failing to pursue PGR opportunities at the University, and also the concentration of requests for supervision around a small number of better known academic staff.
This proposal would create a searchable online database that would bring together information about research areas, topics and expertise, resources (e.g. exclusive collections which only exist at the University) and funding opportunities on the basis of keywords associated with their research interests1.
It could also be accessed by SRA and International Office recruitment staff to provide more helpful, instant information to prospective PGR students at PG study fairs.
This proposal has the potential to be linked to the ‘Find an Expert’ proposal from Communications & Marketing.
1 - This may also link to a project proposed at Learning & Teaching Committee on 19 November 2014, re. open educational resources, which describes digitising “Edinburgh’s treasures”.
Prospective PGR students will continue to find it difficult to identify relevant opportunities at the University, and the University’s ability to meet its targets regarding increased PGR student numbers will be limited.
PGR supervisor tools are offered by Sheffield (https://www.shef.ac.uk/researchsupervisors/view) and Swansea (http://www.swansea.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/). This project would not focus primarily or exclusively on named supervisors, but instead on research themes and topics.
A reduced development effort would potentially be achieved if this and the ‘Find an Expert’ proposal were developed as part of one project, as they are both targeted at external users aiming to find similar types of information. The ‘Find an Expert’ proposal is: https://www.projects.ed.ac.uk/planning/project/169
For funding opportunities – who would populate this and manage the content? Limited to UoE funding opportunities only, not external funding. Assume database for UoE funding exists already so simple interface / extract from that and also to include the funded projects that tend to dominate PGR in CSE and MVM. It would need a way to be maintained, likely through an administration area. Relatively limited database from scholarships and student funding (UG/PGT/PGR), which has some of the funding information in. Access database (Paul Gorman did the original development work).
This is expected to be a public site; development would need to take this into account for security and robustness.
Could it be split by phases? Yes, by identifying topics about which areas would be funded, and then integrate the funding. [Note that CHSS would like to be able to move to team supervision rather than individual before application, so an interface / feed of individuals from e.g. PURE or similar may not be appropriate, and instead an administration interface may be needed for Schools / Research Groups to maintain relevant information.]
There would need to be a solution to the challenge of identifying suitable groups for funding by theme. Once a group or topic was identified by a prospective PGR student the application would need to link to the PG degree finder so that they could apply, and also need them to be able to enquire to register their interest. Would need local contacts who may not be the supervisor.
As this is public facing the approach to gathering requirements will be to use focus groups, including potential applications and existing PGT and PGR students, and also to compare with other institutions to be able to provide a competitive offering.
2015/16 – scoping (led by SRA and Researcher Experience Committee) SMALL for IS Apps
2016/17 – development LARGE
Ongoing support will be required.
The change will affect prospective students, Colleges, Schools, SRA, IS (Library) and SSFS (Scholarships & Student Funding).
The University is strategically committed to increasing the size of its PGR population and the ratio of PGR students to academic staff. The PGR community is vital to maintaining and enhancing the University’s standing as a leading international research institution, to the development of academic communities and networks, and to performance in the Research Exercise Framework.
The difficulties prospective students unfamiliar with the University can face in identifying PGR opportunities at the University are significant. This can deter students from discovering and pursuing opportunities that exist.
The PGR Opportunity Finder tool would overcome this barrier, and provide a simple, quick way for prospective PGR students to identify and begin to explore research opportunities, thereby enhancing the prospective PGR student experience. By showcasing the richness of resources, collections, facilities and research communities, it would increase the attractiveness of Edinburgh as a destination for postgraduate research students.
Measures of impact of the tool include:
Likely for reporting
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