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Student Consultation and Feedback

This section outlines the individual, School, and University level mechanisms for student feedback and consultation.

Section contents:

INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL MECHANISMS

  1. The University participates in the biennial Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), co-ordinated by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and uses the outcomes to inform institutional, College and School action planning. The PRES provides a key source of information for the Annual Review and Enhancement quality process (20).

  2. As part of the Student Academic Representation system, run jointly by the University and the Students’ Union, each School has an identified PGR Representative. The PGR Reps have a defined role at School level but are also appointed to relevant College and University committees and working groups.

  3. The PGR Reps also come together as the Postgraduate Research Representatives Forum, which meets at least twice per year and reports to the University Graduate College Board (13). 

SCHOOL CONSULTATION MECHANISMS

  1. Heads of Schools are responsible for providing regular opportunities for their research students to give individual and collective feedback, and having in place mechanisms to review and respond to that feedback. The procedures in place should take account of the diversity of research programmes and modes of study of the students in that School.

  2. Each School must have in place a mechanism by which it regularly consults with its research student body, either via a full assembly meeting and/or via representatives appointed to a student-staff forum, which can contribute to the development and review of research degree programme matters and which considers any issues raised by the student body. Where appropriate for the School’s portfolio of programmes and the numbers of students involved, a student-staff forum may include taught students. The forum or student assembly should normally meet no less than three times per year.

  3. Schools should also consider the merits of in-house surveys, focus groups and on-line tools to support effective consultation, including exploring any concerns or topical issues that are identified through institutional-level feedback.

  4. Heads of Schools are also responsible for ensuring that opportunities are provided for research students to be represented on any relevant School committees and working groups.

  5. The mechanisms for operating the following should be made clear in School Handbooks or equivalent information:

    1. the student-staff forum/assembly;

    2. any other routine means of gathering collective feedback employed by the School;

    3. appointment of students to School committees/groups;

    4. the selection of student representatives;

    5. channels to raise any individual concerns. 

INDIVIDUAL ISSUES

  1. The Head of School is responsible for ensuring that there is a clearly communicated mechanism by which research students can provide feedback or raise concerns in confidence, which are not made known to the supervisors unless permission is given.

  2. The mechanism by which students can raise individual issues should be open at all times. Students should be reminded of the procedure when they undertake a self-assessment of their progress at part of the Six-Monthly reporting cycle.

  3. It is expected that most problems encountered by students in the course of their research will be capable of resolution within the School, including concerns about a relationship with a supervisor.

  4. If difficulties arise in the relationship between student and a supervisor that cannot be resolved, the School should consider how it can make alternative arrangements (165).

  5. In the event that a student is seriously dissatisfied with the arrangements for their research programme and is unable to reach agreement with the Head of School over those arrangements, the student has recourse to the University Procedures for the Resolution of Students’ Concern/Issues, which can be found in the Academic Regulations Handbook. 

Supporting information