Press Release: NPC Conference 11-14th August, Strathclyde University Union, Glasgow

The 16th Annual Conference of the national Postgraduate Committee will be held from Thursday 11 to Sunday 14 August, 2005 in the Student Union of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The theme will be:

Postgraduate Frontiers: Pushing Back Boundaries
Promoting representation, support and equality for postgraduates

Conference starts at 2.45 on Thursday and ends at 12 noon on Sunday. It is once again sponsored by Graduate Prospects Ltd, www.prospects.ac.uk.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Prof. Teresa Rees, NPC Honorary President and Chair of the Rees Review on the funding of Higher Education in Wales;
  • Tom Sastry of the Higher Education Policy Institute and author of HEPIs report, on the costs and revenues of postgraduate research degree programmes in English universities;
  • Peter Williams of the Quality Assurance Agency;
  • Prof. John Wakeford of the Missenden Centre, on reducing the time spent on a PhD;
  • Jessica Olley of the Europe Unit on the implications of the Bologna Agreement for doctoral qualifications;
  • Ellen Pearce of the UK GRAD programme, on Roberts funding;
  • Mark Hanley of the theses-online EThOS Project;
  • Prof. Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University, on academic freedom;
  • Will Naylor of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, on the completion rates for doctoral programmes;
  • Harpreet Singh of Eurodoc.

Workshops will include the Friday afternoon session dedicated to representing and catering for postgraduate students and researchers, led by NPC officers.

Glasgow-based General Secretary Jim Ewing said, "The themes covered by the different speakers reflect the current ambitions and concerns prevalent in postgraduate education. Greater numbers of researchers can mean a greater amount of good research, but it can also mean a drop in standards as resources are stretched. We'll be looking at costs, duration and success rates of research courses, especially at doctoral level, how current resources are being used (particularly Roberts funding) and how greater efficiency on the part of supervising staff can allow researchers to complete their theses more quickly."

"We'll also be looking at the implications of the Bologna Agreement for UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and individual researchers. The potential for greater co-operation in research at European level is vast but UK early-stage researchers may miss out if their institutions don't respond to the demands in time."
"Finally, there is the question of academic freedom. The AUT's short-lived and ill-advised boycott of certain Israeli HEIs and the governments constant attempts at a Religious Discrimination Act raise the whole theme of where the bounds of academic freedom lie regarding discussion and the right to express or even refer to strongly-held beliefs which may be unacceptable to society or downright criminal to put into practice."

The National Postgraduate Committee is a registered charity (SC033368) with the object of advancing, in the public interest, postgraduate education in the United Kingdom. In pursuing this aim, it serves as the principal representative body of postgraduate students and researchers in the United Kingdom.

Conference is intended for: postgraduate students; officers who represent postgraduate students; education and representation sabbaticals in student unions; staff members in student unions with an interest in postgraduates; postgraduate administrators and Graduate School heads; journalists with an interest in higher education; others with an interest in postgraduate education.

The conference brochure and a printable booking form are viewable on the NPC website www.npc.org.uk/events.

All inquiries re conference and the NPC should be made to General Secretary Jim Ewing at npc@npc.org.uk.