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Quality Assurance and Doctoral Education: A Case study -England

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1 Quality Assurance and Doctoral Education: A Case study -England
Janet Bohrer QAA Introduction: The doctorate world wide, (Ref Powell and Green) and within Europe (ref EUA report), can’t adopt other’s policies because culture context and understanding is important but can learn from shared experiences. This presentation is my contribution to the debate using experiences from the UK – in particular England, about quality assurance at doctoral level giving my perspective as someone both from a QA agency but also as a part time doctoral candidate. What we do, how we got there and what continues to be a challenge from a national perspective and then as an example how from a personal point of view as a doctoral candidate how this translates to practice in one university.

2 Quality Assurance: formal engagement
QAA: revision of section one Code of practice (influences included Improving Standards in RDPs HEFCE 2002 and joint skills statement by the research councils) - Special review of research degree programmes - Incorporated in the revised institutional audit process from 2006 Other: Bologna Process, international dimensions, sector wide discussions e.g. Redefining the Doctorate (Park 2007) Development of CoP section one, Special Review and embedding as part of institutional audit process from 2006 HEFCE 2002 Improving Standards in Postgraduate Degree Programmes and Set for Success which led to the funding for skills training otherwise known as Roberts Training. Outcomes from Special review published with individual repots available to review teams when they come to institutional audit. Bologna Process – Salzburg Principles, [Dublin descriptors, ESG ] specific to doctoral level and the general EUA Council for Doctoral Education Internationally – Banff Principles, [‘Chiba principles’ July 2008 Asia Pacific region following Brisbane Commique of 2006] Sector wide discussions Chris Park’s ‘Redefining the Doctorate’ ….. HEA Redefining the Doctorate Chris Park

3 Understanding Context
Frameworks developed and revised through sector wide discussion and consultation QAA Discussion paper included 18 questions; Q7-10: summary report to working group revising the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ published August 2008) Feedback / benchmarking HEFCE Qualification rates HEA Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) i-graduate, international student barometer Reports from representative bodies e.g. UUK, UKCGE, RCUK DEG work with the sector in developing components of the ‘academic infrastructure’ – frameworks (or reference points) for quality and standards: CoP (ten sections), FHEQ, subject benchmark statements, programme specifications (guidelines), important to QAA to understand the context within which we work. Gill Clarke produced a discussion paper about doctoral programmes (2007) summarised the information and opinions collected and sought a broader view from the sector – asked a number of questions Discussion paper can be found on QAA website ( Web based consultation between May - July 2007 Total of 72 responses; included HEIs, professional bodies, professional groups, individuals Full analysis of questions 1, 7,8, 9 and 10 available on QAA website Work for the revision of the FHEQ started around the same time it was thought appropriate to embed some questions about the relevance of the FHEQ to doctoral programmes with particular reference to the doctoral qualification descriptor within the discussion paper. Other organisations Funding council who worked on the report about qualification rates at doctoral level entry and completion, (2005) updated in 2007 ref and recent work about starters for a doctoral programme The Academy who have looked at the experience of studying at doctoral level - PRES / UKgrad (now Vitae) support the skills agenda, early career researchers Commercial organisations that provide universities with information from particular groups of people eg. International students Reports e.g. from representative bodies such as UUK, UKCGE mapping exercise with the European Charter for Researchers, The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of researchers, RCUK’s concordant, UKCGEs Graduate Schools (2004) plans to update. All allows institutions to benchmark themselves against each other and to share practice

4 Personal experience Doctoral School Motivations Feedback
Code of Practice Access to library Access to courses Events Motivations Feedback Doctoral Poster Event Feb 2009 I am a professional doctorate candidate (part time) part of the doctoral school at the Institute of Education, London QAA section of the CoP / institutional code broader scope Jerry Wellington at Sheffield – EdD prgramme, professional doctorates and motivations paper – mine are similar! Life long learning, he also talked about diversity not uniformity, growing utilitarianism, differing views about learning, teaching and supervision. What are doctorates for? – process or product Our students and our alumni increasingly our ambassadors. I think my own institution is excellent (access to staff with range of expertise who are very generous with time, support and encouragement) but I think the feedback loop hasn’t been closed, we are asked for opinion and views but not told the results e.g. PRES survey.

5 Some Challenges Nature of ‘doctorateness’ Joint doctorates
- Professional doctorate Joint doctorates Perception of quality – ‘value for money’ internationally QA challenges: Some of the issues now turning to: Framework for Higher Education Qualifications – level 8 doctorate, working with UKCGE, HEA and UUK write some guidance which explores this qualification in more depth, looking at what are the similarities between our awards and the differences but essentially getting at what is the nature of ‘doctorateness’. Importance of collaboration, understanding of what is possible, different university regulations HEPPI work, i-graduate (need references)

6 References The Society for Research into Higher Education ‘The Doctorate Worldwide’ edited by S Powell and H Green. Open university press HEFCE 2002 Improving Standards in Postgraduate Degree Programmes HEA Report (2007) ‘Redefining the Doctorate’ Chris Park QAA Discussion Paper about doctoral programmes HEFCE Qualification entry and completion HEA Postgraduate Research Experience Survey HEPI Institute of Education Higher Education Policy Institute The Bologna Process and the UK international Market

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