1.What are the hottest topics in Higher Education and Research in your country for young researchers in 2006?
Specify a maximum of 3.
Are there any connections to the European reforms of the Bologna process and the Lisbon agenda? Are there significant changes in the situation of young researchers in your country as compared to last year? Specify whether your organisation considers those changes an improvement or a deterioration.
YOUR ANSWER A continuing issue from last year has been whether too much funding of research is being concentrated into more research intensive institutions and whether the concentration in certain regions of the UK would be a bad move. Developments in this area have followed discussions by the UK Council of Graduate Education which are concerned that funding by being limited to 5 or 5 rated departments will lead to funding difficulties for research institutions that are not research heavy or new universities.
The biggest issue here is what funding implications there will be to institutions who do not comply with the requirements laid out by the UK's Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes. There has been a survey of practice undertaken within England, Wales and Northern Ireland but there are still no plans as to what action will be taken within Scotland.
2.Which actions or activities has your national organisation been involved in this year? What are your organisations future planned activities? What main improvement would your organisation like to see in the situation of young researchers? Which are the ideas your organisation would like to put forward as objectives for EURODOC in 2006?
YOUR ANSWER The most significant involvements our organisation has had for the development of early stage researchers is as follows:
We have sat on the Roberts Rugby Team working group evaluating the effectiveness of skills development in research degree programmes. This is a sector driven group with participation from HEI Stakeholders such as research councils, the Quality Assurance Agency and universities formed as a result of Roberts Policy Forum in Rugby in January 2005. It was formed as a suggestion for a working party to find ways in which the sector can evaluate the effectiveness of skills development in research degree programmes as it was noted that a sector driven review was far better than the government reviewing as part of a baseline review. This was launched at a roundtable event for the sector with support by the sector with minor changes to Key Performance Indicators and greater student involvement.
The National Postgraduate Committee still notes the undue influence supervision and particularly bad supervision can have on successful completion of a PhD. We would welcome europe wide collaboration to pursue guidance on supervision standards and supervisor requirments. The UK has already implemented the Eurodoc Supervision and Training Charter through the UK Code of Practice for Research Degrees. We however have not seen the expected move to develop internal codes which suitably implement effective supervision alongside effective complaints mechanisms.
The National Postgraduate Committee is concerned at the market failure of postgraduate education and the wider discussions on regional provision of postgraduate provision. We have commissioned research into this failure which we hope to lobby regional development agencies to support postgraduate provision regionally in the UK.
A European Code and Charter for researchers stakeholder meeting working group has been set up in the UK with regards to implementation of the European Researchers Charter. This group is made up of key stakeholder organisations in this area and will feed into an exercise to map the Code and Charter against existing legislation, guidelines and good practice in the UK, which will be co-ordinated by RCUK and Universities UK on behalf of the UK HE sector.
Part Two: facts
The aim of these questions is not to provide a definitive answer but to begin addressing them in 2006 and refining the calculations every year.
5.To the best of your knowledge, provide figures to estimate the proportion of non-funded PhD candidates in your country in 2006.
YOUR ANSWER There are approximately 18,000 full time research students in the UK of which approx 14,000 are funded and 4,000 non-funded by research councils. Some are funded by charities such as the wellcome trust, others on scholarships and self funding. We are unable to find any HESA data about percentages.
6.To the best of your knowledge, provide figures to estimate the proportion of young researchers who do not benefit from all Social Benefits. Please, distinguish between Health Care and Pension rights.
YOUR ANSWER Registered students in the UK are able to benefit from the UK Social Security healthcare and tax exemption system. The only benefit not available to PhD students in the UK are pension contributions both state and private.
Supervision and Training
7.What awareness do you have of the European Researchers Charter being promoted and implemented at the national and institutional level in your country? Has your association had involvement in that implementation? Please summarise here with comments.
YOUR ANSWER The National Postgraduate Committee has been invited to participate in the European Code and Charter for researchers stakeholder working group with other key stakeholder organisations in this area. We will work with partners to feed into an exercise to map the Code and Charter against existing legislation, guidelines and good practice in the UK, which will be co-ordinated by RCUK and Universities UK on behalf of the UK HE. This will look at what we have now and how that fits in in order to fill in the missing gaps etc.
8.Please give a brief grading as to how your organisation rates provisions for the following aspects of the European Researchers Charter regarding ESRs (1 = bad, to 5 = good). ESRs (Early Stage Researchers ) are PhD candidates with less than 4 years experience of research.
a. Provision to ensure established and active relations with supervisors. 2.Under average
b.Encouragement of publication of ESRs' work. 3. Average
c.Training of supervisors to meet the needs of their ESRs. 2.Under average
d.Provision of continuing professional development via training etc. 3.Average
e.Access to appropriate research environment with other peers in their research. 3.Average
f.Structured review mechanisms to monitor ESRs progress. 3.Average
g.Easy access to a complaints procedure should an ESR experience difficulty with their supervisor. 2.Under average
9. How many centres does the Mobility Network ERA-MORE provide in your country? What services do they offer? Do they interact with your organisation?
YOUR ANSWER The ERA-MORE Mobility Network has 12 centres in the UK located in Belfast,, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester. Newcastle, Nottingham, and Oxford.
UK ERA-MORE centres offer assistance with matters relating to professional and daily life, information on legal issues, social security, health and taxes, everyday life as well as family support.
Currently ERA-MORE centres do not ineract with the National Postgraduate Committee.
10. Regarding the possible preparation of a Charter for the International Mobility of Early Stage and Experienced Researchers by the EURODOC mobility working group - a document gathering recommendations to higher education and research institutions, funding bodies and researchers, aimed at facilitating mobility of PhD candidates and post-docs:
a. Would your organisation support such an initiative by Eurodoc?
YOUR ANSWER The National Postgraduate Committee would actively support such an iniative as offering opportunities for the development of postgraduate and early stage researchers in developing academic and personal development.
b.Does your organisation have a similar document that could be used?
YOUR ANSWER The National Postgraduate Committee does not currently have any policy on international mobility.
c. Can you list a maximum of 10 items that should be tackled by such a document and that would be relevant to avoid mobility problems of foreign researchers in your country and of national researchers abroad?
YOUR ANSWER NONE SUBMITTED
11. In which way has the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers been promoted and implemented at the national and institutional level in your country? Are you able to monitor that implementation (explain why or how)?
YOUR ANSWER The UK hosted a conference on The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for their recruitment in September 2005 as part of the UK presidency of the EU. This conference involved participants from 35 countries with the aim of turning policy into practice. The UK supported the Charter and Code and is planning an implementation plan.
The NPC should be able to monitor implementation against planned recommendations made at the conference and will be able to monitor implementation through particpation in the European Code and Charter for researchers stakeholder working group. This group will map the Code and Charter against existing legislation, guidelines and good practice in the UK.
12. Does your organisation support a tenure track model to be applied in public research institutions? At what level of experience does your organisation think that a researcher should be promoted to a stable position such as a tenureship (use the approved Eurodoc career path in academia document to define the level of research experience )? How does your organisation think the positions should be funded: by the research institute/university, by external funding such as governmental research councils, charities, etc.? Are both systems compatible?
YOUR ANSWER We do not have much policy on this area though we have recognised initiatives such as the Academic Fellowships brought through by Roberts such that they allow 5 years training through to a permanent position. More information can be found at - www.rcuk.ac.uk/acfellow.
13.What is the level of private funding in your country (industry, funding bodies, etc)? Is this private funding only applied in the industry or is there any private funded research performed in academic/public institutions? Could you specify what sort of programmes/private organisations support research in public institutions in your country? Does your organisation envisage the collaboration between the public and the private sector as something positive? Could you provide examples of what you consider good and/or bad practice in this respect?
YOUR ANSWER* The most prominent are those for CASE awards used by the EPSRC, BBSRC which top up any funding received. Some private funding does award scholarships to internationals but this is largely concentrated to few places in science/technology.