Roles and responsibilities
The School PGR Director leads PGR activities within the School and works with the Head of School — and a team of Senior Tutors at Division level – to ensure that PGR objectives and issues are addressed at both a strategic and operational level.
The School PGR Director is a proactive member of the Doctoral Academy Management Group.
- Work with the Head of School to ensure that PGR issues and objectives are included in the School strategic and operational plans and monitored appropriately
- Serve on the School Senior Management Team
- Lead the School PGR Management Team and develop PGR activity within the School
- Develop and implement strategies to meet annual School PGR operational targets (student numbers, submission/completion rates, student satisfaction, etc)
- Represent nominated CDT/DTP programs at the Doctoral Academy Management Group
- Lead annual monitoring and quality assurance processes within the School
- Co-ordinate consultation exercises relating to policy and process
- Investigate, organise and pursue avenues of funding for PGR students
- Liaise with Domain Directors regarding PGR recruitment initiatives and bids
- Support bids for internal and externally funded studentships including those from research councils, major charities and NIHR
- Support the recruitment and allocation of students to funded studentships
- Ensure compliance with the University Code of Practice for Postgraduate Research Students
- Take oversight of engagement with eProg across the School
- Receive and review documentation regarding student progress
- Liaise with the Senior Tutors with regard to student progress, submission and completion
- Disseminate relevant PGR information to School staff and students
- Ensure appropriate structures and feedback mechanisms are in place to facilitate effective student representation and engagement
- Chair School PGR Progress Committees
- Serve on the Doctoral Academy Management Group and the Faculty Research Degrees Panel
- Liaise with the School PGT Leads to develop a PG community and to promote retention routes from PGT into PGR programmes
- Identify supervisor training and support issues and liaise with the Doctoral Academy and CARD to ensure that these training needs are met
- Oversee engagement with PRES across the School and develop, implement and monitor an appropriate action plan
Larger Divisions will usually have a Senior PGR Tutor and one or more Division PGR Tutors. In these instances the Senior Tutor may act as Tutor for a small number of students as appropriate.
In some Divisions there may not be a need to separate the Senior Division PGR Tutor and the Division PGR Tutor role and one person may cover both roles.
- Work with the Head of Division to ensure that PGR issues and objectives are included in any Division strategic and operational plans and monitored appropriately
- Deputise for the School PGR Director as appropriate
- Contribute to the Annual Monitoring process and to meeting School operational targets
- Chair the Division PGR Committee (where appropriate)
- Co-ordinate PGR activity across the Division
- Disseminate information to Division PGR Tutors, supervisors and students as appropriate
Recruitment and admissions
- Manage and approve PGR applications and admissions, including the nomination of supervisory teams, appointment of advisors, etc
- Support bids for internal and externally funded studentships including those from research councils, major charities and NIHR
- Ensure the Division is appropriately represented on student interview panels
Student Experience and Support
- Ensure that PGR students receive appropriate local inductions and information on School and Division level activities (e.g. symposia, journal clubs, away days, etc)
- Organise Division PGR symposia, presentations, seminars, final oral presentations as required
- Ensure that the Division has appropriate and effective student representation
- Ensure PRES actions are implemented at a Division level
Progression and Examination
- Authorise special permissions requests prior to Faculty approval
- Meet with students whose attendance is highlighted as a cause for concern under the Monitoring Attendance and Well-Being of Students regulation and policy and refer cases to a School Progress Committee as appropriate
- Work with relevant PGR PS colleagues to manage PGR progression and attendance issues
- Review Bi recommendations on behalf of the Research Degrees Panel
- Serve on School Progress Committees
The Division PGR Tutor will be assigned as the PG Tutor on Campus Solutions and will appear on the individual student record in eProg
Recruitment and admissions
- Undertake applicant interviews either in conjunction with the supervisory team or as a separate review
- Reviewing supervisory team, funding and related issues
Progression and Examinations
- Monitor student progress through eProg
- Approve key progression milestones
- Provide advice to students and/or supervisory teams on the requirements for satisfactory progression and attendance
- Provide advice to students and/or supervisory teams where progress issues are identified
- Undertake writing up interviews as required
- Liaise with specific program cohort tutors as appropriate regarding student issues
- Intervene in the examination process where delays and problems have been identified by the PSS team
- Approve the nominated examiners for the final thesis
- Nominate an independent chair where required
- Deputise for the Senior Tutor as appropriate
- Serve on the Division PGR Committee (where required)
FBMH Doctoral Academy – Guidance and Support for PGR Advisors (September 2016 onwards)
PGR Advisors are expected to fulfil the following responsibilities for students they are assigned to:
- Meet with their allocated student(s) on an annual basis (as set out on eProg);
- Provide pastoral support and advice to PGR students, ensuring they are aware of available support services;
- Provide advice to supervisors regarding student support;
- Provide guidance to students and supervisors regarding special permissions requests;
- Meet with students who return from periods of interruption to ensure that they are supported on their return to programme;
- Liaise with Division PGR Tutors and Cohort Leads as required;
- Attend the annual planning meetings with the supervisory team (advisable).
The Advisor role is pastoral only for students commencing study from September 2016 onwards. Previous to this, FLS/FMHS operated different approaches, with FLS advisors assigned as ‘academic advisors’ who provided evaluation on the progress of the student and the research project. This is no longer the case, and advisors to students enrolling under the Doctoral Academy should maintain a solely pastoral role.
Advisors are identified in different ways, depending on the School/Division. A summary of how each School/Division currently operates is below (as of January 2018). When identifying an Advisor, individuals should be aware that the role is entirely independent of the supervisory team (ie. not a partner or collaborator or sharing lab/office space). The Advisor should agree to taking on this role before this is formally confirmed.
School of Biological Sciences - Advisor identified by the Supervisor on the Admissions Proforma
School of Medical Sciences (mixed model depending on Division)
Dentistry, CS, ME, DEG - Advisor identified by the Supervisor on the Admissions Proforma
CVS - Advisor identified by Senior PGR Tutor during admissions process (Advisors are identified either on a cohort or individual basis)
DBM - a mix of both approaches above, depending on the supervisor location. Senior PGR Tutor will confirm the process for each applicant and liaise with the supervisor.
School of Health Sciences - Advisor identified by Senior PGR Tutor during admissions process (Advisors are identified either on a cohort or individual basis)
Any queries relating to the allocation of Advisors should be directed to the Division Senior PGR Tutor.
Advisor Meeting – Year 1 (month 3 and month 9)
The initial Advisor meeting in Year 1 is held two months into programme and a further meeting is held at the
end of month 8 in the first year. Whilst the purpose of these meetings is not to assess academic performance to date, it is recommended that discussions refer to whether the student has adjusted to the expectations of a PGR programme, how confident they are as regards support networks/services, and how they feel the transition into the programme has been more generally. Whilst it is important the meeting is not overly structured, the following discussion points can act as prompts:
- Induction into the group, awareness of key contacts outside of the supervisory team;
- Transition into the PGR programme in Manchester – this could involve discussion around adjusting to the independence of PhD research, cultural differences, adapting to Manchester (particularly relevant to international students but may apply to those who have moved as a result of taking up the degree);
- Awareness of wider support services (Counselling; DASS; Occupational Health; Doctoral Academy; PGR Tutor etc.);
- Response to the ‘Expectations’ meeting held with the supervisory team and any concerns resulting from this;
- Level of preparedness for the Continuation/Transfer report;
- Awareness of training opportunities available from outside their host research group.
Advisor Meeting – Year 2 (Year 3 PT)
Held 18 months in, the Year 2 Advisor meeting should focus on whether the student feels they remain on track, and if not, whether any personal/wellbeing issues are inhibiting progress or creating a distraction. It may be that a student’s wellbeing is being directly affected by their PGR programme, in which case escalation to the associated PGR Tutor may be required. Reference points for discussion at the Year 2 meeting could include:
- Level of confidence that progress remains on track and there are no emerging concerns regarding ability to conduct the next phase of the research;
- Relations with the supervisory team and colleagues remain positive and supportive;
- Options for changes to programme if concerns are raised (study interruptions; change of mode of attendance, etc.) Note that international students may need additional advice in relation to changes in circumstances due to restrictions on their visa. More information is provided below about signposting international students;
- Whether career options beyond the PhD are now being considered and acted upon in terms of gaining relevant skills, experience, attendance at careers events etc. There is material available through the Careers Service for PGR students. You may also want to highlight the Pathways event.
Advisor Meeting – Year 3 (Year 5 PT)
With attention starting to focus on writing up/submission, it is expected that anxiety levels may heighten and students will seek independent advice as regards their preparedness to develop a comprehensive thesis. There will also be competing pressures such as securing a postdoctoral position/employment, returning to clinical/NHS commitments, generating publications, reporting significant outputs etc. Reference points for discussion at the Year 3 meeting could include:
- Level of preparation for writing up, submission, viva defence. Confidence in ability to meet targets set in Thesis Planning meeting;
- Any anxieties relating to next career moves, references, outputs;
- How feedback on thesis planning, scaling down the research, thesis drafts etc. is being arranged, whether this is deemed sufficient, any concerns with supervisory relations;
- Access to support such as Careers Service; CARD etc. to gain independent advice on making the most of the next phase of the PhD;
- General level of awareness of the submission/examination process and support available within the Doctoral Academy (Student Support/Examinations teams/CARD);
- International students may be interested in the doctorate extension scheme or have queries about taking up roles following their degree.
eProg requirements and recording Advisor meeting discussions
There is an annual Advisor meeting form on eProg. The form does not include space for recording details of the meeting due to the potentially confidential nature of the discussions. You are recommended to keep a record of your meetings and share these with the student if you are dealing with particularly difficult or sensitive issues. Please note that any notes can be requested by the student and/or supervisory team under a freedom of information or a data protection subject access request.
Sources of support and information
Faculty Doctoral Academy – Student Support Administrators
The Doctoral Academy (DA) has a dedicated PGR student support team in place. As an Advisor, if you are uncertain where to signpost a student demonstrating concerns, you should get in touch with your relevant School/Division PGR support contact:
|Biological Sciences||Christine Burnsfirstname.lastname@example.org||55210||All|
|Medical Sciences||Joy Stewartemail@example.com||51702||All|
The DA Student Support Team can advise on any of the support services highlighted below, as well as adjustments to programme that may help students affected by wellbeing/progress concerns. These include special permissions requests (Interruption to Study; Change of Mode of Attendance; Extensions etc.)
Division PGR Tutors
Whilst the Advisor may become aware of student progression issues resulting from a personal or wellbeing concern, they are not expected to take a lead on PGR progression for students. This is the responsibility of supervisory teams and PGR Tutors. As a guide, the PGR Tutor role outlines the following expectations regarding progression/examination:
- Monitor student progress through eProg;
- Approve key progression milestones;
- Provide advice to students and/or supervisory teams on the requirements for satisfactory progression and attendance;
- Provide advice to students and/or supervisory teams where progress issues are identified;
- Undertake writing up interviews as required;
- Liaise with specific program cohort tutors as appropriate regarding student issues;
- Intervene in the examination process where delays and problems have been identified by the PSS team;
- Approve the nominated examiners for the final thesis;
- Nominate an independent chair where required.
In discussing non-academic matters with students, it may become apparent they are having a detrimental impact upon academic progression. In which case, the Advisor is recommended to consult with the relevant PGR Tutor to highlight concerns and agree the most appropriate follow up. PGR Tutor details can be viewed on the student profile page in eProg.
University Support Services
As well as individual counselling sessions, the Counselling Service offers a range of courses and workshops at which students can learn new personal skills or better ways of coping with particular situations. You can check online which workshops and courses are running.
The main aim of DASS is to assist students with specific learning difficulties, disabilities, sensory impairments, mental health difficulties and medical conditions, and to identify their needs whilst studying at the University. Disability Support Plans are generated for any student who undertakes a formal needs assessment with DASS, which are then provided to the Doctoral Academy for consultation with the supervisory team/advisor (allowing for student consent).
DASS is to produce further guidance on supporting PGR students with a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) following School/Faculty consultation.
This service aims to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of students. Its remit as regards postgraduates is defined as:
- Advice on a student’s fitness to undertake a course and any appropriate adjustments that may be required;
- Advice on fitness to study where there is a concern in relation to a student’s medical fitness to attend university, study and sit exams;
- Assessing risk relating to the health of individuals and groups engaged in particular tasks;
- Health surveillance;
- Provision of comprehensive travel advice/ vaccinations/ travel packs for course related (e.g. field work, study abroad) travel.
Students may self-refer or be referred by their School/Faculty. In cases of School/Faculty referral it is important the referral is discussed with the student in advance so that everyone understands the purpose of the referral.
Some possible reasons for referral include:
- Attendance management;
- Concerns of a student’s health affecting their studies;
- Concerns that a student’s studies are having adverse effects on their health;
- Where there is a request for an extension to study, or special requirements needed for assessments;
- To assess mitigating circumstances that may have had an effect on a student’s academic performance.
The student has the right to refuse referral, however the individual must be aware that further decisions and actions may have to be made without the benefit of a medical assessment. After the appointment, the School/Faculty will be sent a report and recommendations from the Occupational Health Service.
Support for International Students
- All queries relating to the impact of changes of circumstance, etc on a Tier 4 visa should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the information on Student Support Immigration site;
- International students who are feeling isolated or those with families in Manchester may benefit from the activities and support available through the International Society – particularly their families group.
- Year by year guide for doctoral researchers;
- Annual Pathways Event – career options for researchers;
- The Academic Career – award winning site developed by the Careers Service in collaboration with researchers and academics;
- Manchester Gold mentoring.
Term of School PGR Directors, Senior Division PGR Tutors and PGR Tutors
Doctoral Academy roles will be for three years in the first instance with the possibility of extension for a maximum of three further years.