OGM Agenda 11/12 November 2006

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Ordinary General Meeting of the National Postgraduate Committee
11th and 12th November 2006
University of York

The meeting will start in room 045 in Vanbrugh College at 1.30 pm (Number 27 on the York University Map adjacent to the central lake:
www.york.ac.uk/np/maps/campus.gif ).

The meeting will open with a presentation on York GSA and the experience of the GSA in supporting postgraduate students.

Formal Business:
Sederunt and apologies
This is a formal name for those present and is where we record those who are able to vote and those who are present.

Chair's address

Minutes
We look at the minutes of previous general meetings and any Subcommittee meetings to see if they are an accurate record of what took place. Questions on any issues in the minutes can be raised in matters arising.

Minutes of NPC AGM held at the Aston University Business School - pending being received.

Minutes of NPC management subcommittee held at the Keele Postgraduate Association.

Matters Arising
This is your opportunity to ask questions related to information that has been presented in the minutes.

Motions - None received but motions may be tabled subject to approval of Chairperson and consensus of meeting.

Financial Report
Treasurer's report to the OGM Tim Roll-Pickering

Reports
General Secretary Simon Felton
NPC Scotland ( Chair Person) Jim Ewing
Conference Secretary David Thurkettle
Communications Officer Chris Whittaker
Equal opportunities Officer Armineh Soorenian
Project officers:
Alex Higgins
Chandan Singh
Rhys Kearney
Dan Snowdon

Any other Reports

Please note: Chairperson, Minutes secretary, and Ordinary Executive Officers are not required to give a reports, though they may do so if
they wish.

Elections to Conferences

Eurodoc Nice Conference:
The European commission has recently approved the funding of the conference on Doctoral programmes in Europe, co-organized by the European University Association (EUA), French Ministry of Education and Research, and Eurodoc. The conference will be held in Nice,
France, December 7 9, 2006.
The approved project, financed by the EC, will allow Eurodoc to invite 35 delegates from all member organizations and reimburse transportation as well as accommodation costs. However, there are certain details national organizations should take into account before sending the information about the chosen participants:

UKCGE (United Kingdom for Graduate Education) Winter Conference, York,
13 February 2007.

Consultations and current projects Simon Felton
This will include a discussion on the Immigration Charging consultation from the Home Office with implications for International Students and writing-up visa costs.

AOB

Date and time of the Next OGM
End of Formal session

Please note sessions may be extended or shortened at the discretion of the Chairperson with consensus from the meeting.

Informal session:

Session 2 Roundtable discussion on Academic Freedom and the recent moves to ask student unions and institutions to spy on Muslim students. - How can we protect the freedom to research in a climate hostile to the 'other'?

Session 3 The HEA Taught Masters Survey - an NSS for Masters Students. What lessons can be learnt from the NSS and how can this be linked into the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey to gather student feedback.

Session 4 - (Re)defining the PhD. There is an increasing debate through the Bologna process and in the UK generally about what a PhD is for? This roundtable will attempt to gather postgraduate student views to be part of the wider sector discussion on the PhD.

We will look at Chris Park's paper (Re)defining the PhD and try to answer the questions he considers the sector needs to answer on what is a PhD.

Purpose: what is the doctorate for, or what needs does it serve? Within this over-arching theme sit a number of important questions, including
a) Is the doctorate really about the product (thesis) or the process (developing the researcher). Implications on how time is spent during degree and how degree is examined.
b) Is the doctorate about education or training? How important are research training and the development of generic skills compared with actually doing the research and learning more about the subject.
c) Should the doctorate be broad or specialised? Is the proliferation of different models of the doctorate producing graduates with experiences that are too specialised, compared with the traditional PhD.
d) Should there be greater uniformity in the format of the doctorate, and in the doctoral student experience, within and between HEIs in the UK, and with universities elsewhere (particularly Europe, Australia,
and North America).
e) Should more attention be paid to issues of equity and widening participation in the UK doctorate? Most national strategic decision-making (and funding) is dominated by the 'big science' ,research, and it privileges the full-time fully financed research
student. How can the needs of part time and distance students be taken into account?

Supply chain: how can the supply chain of well-trained and appropriately experienced doctoral graduates be sustained? The two key elements within this theme are
a) How can the recruitment of doctoral students in the UK be sustained and improved, given funding constraints and student debt in the UK, and increasing global competition for well-qualified applicants.
b) How can the employability of doctoral students be enhanced? How can they acquire the right mix of skills, competencies and experiences to make them more attractive to appropriate employers? How can the transition between being a doctoral student and adding real value to their employer be made shorter, easier and less stressful?

Funding: what are the implications for research funders of the changing context of doctoral education in the UK? A number of important questions sit within this broad theme, including
a) Is it appropriate to increase the availability of funding to doctoral education, which would make it possible to increase the number of full time doctoral students in the UK?
b) Is it appropriate to concentrate research funding in a small number of institutions in order to meet critical mass, reward and promote excellence, and ensure greater strategic management of doctoral activities.
c) Are the resources currently being invested in doctoral education in the UK being used in the most effective ways? What do institutional submission and completion rates reveal about variations in efficiency, and what do these variations imply? Are institutions taking into account the full economic cost of their doctoral programmes when they make strategic decisions?
d) What proportion of national GDP should be invested in research and development in order to make the nation competitive in world markets?
e) Do the research councils, which fund about a third of doctoral students, exert a disproportionate influence on the nature of doctoral education in the UK?

Doctoral student experience: in what ways are the current and emerging drivers of change having an impact on the nature and quality of the student experience? Particularly important here are the questions -
a) Should doctoral students be defined and treated as students (as in the UK currently) or employees (with attendant rights and responsibilities)?
b) In what ways, and how quickly, might the European Charter for Researchers change the way in which doctoral candidates are defined and treated?
c) In what ways are the development of Graduate Schools, Research Degree Programmes and Research Training Programmes improving the quality of the doctoral student experience?
d) In what ways is the revised QAA Code of Practice improving the quality of the doctoral student experience?
e) In what ways are part time and distance students disadvantaged by current institutional provisions and arrangements?

Nature and dissemination of research: how might the demands and expectations of the new Knowledge economy impact upon doctoral education in the UK? For example
a) How can doctoral programmes in the UK become more applied and inter-disciplinary in the types of research they cover?
b) How can UK doctoral programmes increase the amount of knowledge transfer that doctoral students and graduates engage in?

Quality assurance: how effectives are current systems for assuring the quality and standard of UK doctoral awards? In particular
a) How appropriate are the current QAA level descriptors for postgraduate awards in general, and for doctoral awards in particular?
b) Given the growing diversity of doctoral awards in the UK, how can we make sure that all are operating at the same academic standard, and that they produce graduates with similar qualities and competencies?
c) What does the Bologna agenda imply about the suitability of the UK doctorate in a European context? Are learning outcomes more relevant and important than the period of registration in determining whether the doctoral programmes meet European expectation?

Autonomy, responsibility and accountability: given that individual universities approve their own regulations and award their own degrees, albeit in ways that informed by and aligned with formal national requirements, to what extent is convergence on a standard type of doctoral education inevitable or to be welcomed? This question can be posed at two levels
a) Must every institution met fully all of the formal expectations both implicit and explicit in the national frameworks such as the QAA Code of Practice, the Roberts Agenda, and the RCUK (2001) Joint Statement of Skills Training Requirments? What sanctions would be appropriate if a particular institution failed to meet a particular external expectation or requirement?
b) Must all UK institutions revise their doctoral programmes to fit the expectations and requirements of the Bologna Agenda? Again, what sanctions would be appropriate if they failed to do so? What are the implications for HEIs across the UK of the development of the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area? What are the implications for doctoral education in the UK of the development of the European Doctorate?

There may also be an opportunity to discuss the University of London Union Postgraduate Charter and its application nationally and the new NPC website. The new website but what do you want to see on it?

Members of the committee will be staying at the York Youth Hotel hostel and there may be shared rooms available if you are seeking accommodation from: 01904 625904.

Your are welcome to attend for one day or both.

Kind regards
Simon