In September 2004, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the body dedicated to ensuring academic quality in higher education, released a new code of practice for research degrees. Over the past 8 months, NPC has been heavily involved in the process of bringing this code together, playing an important role on the working group as well as drafting some sections of the code and carefully monitoring others. This part of NPC's activity clearly shows the necessity for us to exist and the benefit of our work to postgraduates across the UK. No other body could engage the interests of postgraduates on a national level in the way that NPC has to ensure the code is student focussed. Producing the code has allowed us to develop a good working relationship with the QAA and all others involved. The task now for NPC is to make postgraduate representatives aware of what this code is about and how it can be best used in the interests of postgraduate research students.
All higher education institutions will need to implement their own codes of practice for research degrees in order to comply with minimum requirements, failure to do so will have funding implications. Involvement of postgraduate representatives in developing institutional codes is vital in this process as although NPC has ensured the code is student focussed its use and application need not necessarily be so.
The code consists of 9 main sections which are, institutional arrangements, research environment, admissions, supervision, review of progress, training, feedback mechanisms, assessment and complaints and appeals. The admissions section has been significantly influenced by NPC, we have drafted many of the details relating to successful inductions, this has had implications for a great deal of the code further down the line. In addition to this, supervision has also been of interest to us along with fair complaints and appeals procedures - not having to complain to the supervisor's friend next door if problems arise. Another important point to note for student bodies is that representation is a key factor in the new code, this has not had major consideration previously and so more formally structured feedback is now needed. If you want to know more about the code, please email Tim Brown on email@example.com.