From: Neil Willey, Director of the UWE Graduate School
It’s just over a year ago now that UWE set up its university-wide Graduate School and then celebrated the launch, so I thought it might be a good time to reflect on how things are going. Personally, I think we’ve now got a pretty sturdy one year old and that we’ve already mostly done teething and walking! I’m pretty acutely aware, however, that walking is just the start and that, let alone running, we probably need to be triple jumping or something fairly soon. There are two things that particularly struck me during the year and which make me think triple jumping might be possible…….
The first is the great team of people that were assembled into the UWE Graduate School. I’ve realised how many people at UWE already appreciate this, and really do wish that all the research students and supervisors at UWE have the opportunity that I do to engage with Graduate School staff – because I think they would then realise the interest and expertise available to them. I believe that the Graduate School can be really helpful to PGR students and supervisors across the university but that we all have to, somehow, be in sufficient contact with each other for this to really happen. During the first year this was exemplified to me in skills development events for students and supervisors. The development events that I was part of seemed to be of great benefit to everyone, which is making me think a great deal about how we can extend the experience to more students and supervisors.
The second thing that spurred me on to believe that the Graduate School at UWE can really go places is the real importance of PGR, both generally and to UWE. Contact with lots of students and supervisors from across the university over the course of a year really emphasises what fantastic things PGR students and their supervisors do. I’ve learned about so many things from across all the Faculties that could really make a difference to the world. To me it seems crucial that UWE has signalled its intent to have a healthy PGR community, but I do wonder if we all realise how central it can be to all that UWE wishes to be.
So, after a year I’m confident that we’ve made a good start and that the UWE Graduate School can really be helpful to PGR students and supervisors. Contact across the Faculties has given me quite a clear picture of the UWE PGR community and how the Graduate School can help. It has, however, started me thinking that perhaps the more channels of communication are available, the more difficult it is to communicate. It’s also been a reminder of the committee work necessary in a large institution! Overall, I’m happy that we’ve now got an overall focus for PGR at UWE that we can build on to respond to the needs of our research students and supervisors.
I’m a former researcher into the microbiology of the mouth who now runs a skills development programme for other researchers.