sparqs is currently undertaking a project on Postgraduate Research student engagement and representation. PGR students form a significant part of the student profile in universities, but due to the nature of postgraduate study there are often distinct challenges and opportunities for student engagement activity.
Often, PGR students do not enrol in courses and instead undertake a significant amount of independent learning and research-based activity. Their key relationship is usually with their supervisors, and some may have staff contracts and teaching responsibilities. Depending on the area of study, some PGR students will have significant contact with other students and staff through labs or other team environments, whilst others may be working largely alone.
Recognising the need for specialist resources and support for this cohort, in 2018 sparqs began a project to explore and develop practice in engaging postgraduate research students in the shaping of their educational experiences. This project has been supported by a range of staff and students from across Scotland’s universities with various roles relating to quality, student engagement and the PGR experience.
The working group identified three areas of activity for sparqs to develop:
- Development of a PGR Student “Learning” Experience diagram and tool, allowing for the creation of headings and supplementary questions under which areas of the PGR experience can be explored.
- Development of guidance outlining models of PGR representation, building on different approaches taken around the country.
- Toolkit on PGR student engagement in institutional processes, allowing for co-creation or co-review of policies and procedures relating to PGR support, supervision and development.
The next stage of the project is to create the three outputs outlined above for use in the sector, and we are keen to continue to engage PGR students and staff with a PGR focus in this work. In particular, sparqs is keen to talk to individuals about their thoughts on effective PGR student engagement and to hear about existing practice in the sector.
For further information and to get involved in the project, please contact Megan Brown, Development Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.