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Improving the research student experience: A tale of change within change Annie Maddison Warren Academic Lead, CDS DTC

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Cranfield University Corporate Presentation

Improving the research student experience: A tale of change within change

www.cranfield.ac.ukAnnie Maddison WarrenAcademic Lead, CDS DTC3rd June 2016

Asked to speak to you about setting up a Doctoral Training Centre in a small institution with little resource.

And asked to make it interactivebe warned.

Im one of you!

Start with a little background on Cranfield University facts and figures

Then set the scene and ask you to think about it.

Share ideas and reveal what happened.1

Cranfield University?Postgraduate university4639 students (half FT/half PT)106 nationalitiesc.800 research students1559 staff (305 academic, 93 professorial and 255 research)3 + 1 / 50

But first, some facts and figures about CU.I would ask if anyone has ever heard of itWho knows where it is?3 schools at Bedford, 1 at Shrivenham c.50 miles apart.2

Specialist ThemesAerospace


Environment & Agrifood

Leadership and Management


Energy & Power

Transport Systems

Defence and Security

We operate in 8 key areas.3

League Tables? Unique facilities:Crash Impact Centre National Wind Tunnel Facility Secure Site at ShrivenhamAirfield and Aircraft

Top 5 UK research- intensive university with Universities of Oxford, and Cambridge, Imperial College and University College London

Of our research is rated world leading or internationally excellent81% Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering: 4 in the UKRanked Top: 39 in the world

And we never appear in the league tables or very infrequently because were PG only.

But these are our claims to fame4

Cranfield Defence and Security?A School of the University, based at the Defence Academy of the UK at Shrivenham, Wiltshire350 Staff149 FT and 1625 PT Taught Students70 FT and 80 PT Research Students 5500 CPD Students 30m Turnover

Setting the Scene

Took seven years mostly working out what social science research methodology is.Lack of training on this.And it was lonely.Describe graduation experience.6

The EnvironmentStudents graduating with debts of up to 50kAn exclusively postgraduate university inability to offset feesA lack of funding for PhDsA shrinking postgraduate marketDoctorates down 1% (2003-2012)Employers uncertain about what skills a research student can offerUncertainty about what good looks like in the world of PhDs

PGT grew from 2000 then began to shrink from 2010.7

An Opportunity

Academic Lead of the DTC?



A great bossA team and regular meetingsFrom virtual to realthe rPod!Cradle to graveInterviews, induction and cohortsResearch skills and training programmeScience and social sciencesPhD processPart time students at a distance (global classroom and VLE)WelfareDelivering qualified and employable researchersExperience of teachingCreating a research communityDefence and Security Doctoral SymposiumAcademic Writing and Communication Fair

The rPod

The rPod




e-Learning CapabilitiesGlobal ClassroomHigh quality videoconferencingcapability for teaching, researchand collaboration

Can connect to any standards -based facility anywhere in the world

High definition cameras and projectors, state-of-the-art microphones and speakers

Real-time interaction between lecturer and students

Ability to provide courses and educational products worldwide

Global Classroom




Academic Writing and Communication Fair 2016


University Transformation

StandardisationUnificationStreamliningQAA audit

Policy Transformation

Government white paper on the future of Higher Education (HEI): Higher education: success as a knowledge economy white paper (16 May)The need for reform in the sector (last major legislative reforms in 1992)Access (social mobility), inflexible courses, unsatisfactory provision, skills shortages, competitive marketHE Bill in OctoberTeaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

Lessons for Life

For me, the essence of being an excellent university is the interaction between our staff, students and the environment in which we live and work.

Sir Peter GregsonVice-Chancellor Cranfield University

Lessons for Life

For me, the essence of being an excellent DTC is showing our students and staff that we care about them and are willing to invest in them as people, learners and researchers.

Annie Maddison WarrenAcademic Lead, CDS DTCCranfield University

Lessons for Change

VisionPassionThe right people in the right place at the right timeTop level support (and cover)A brilliant team with a clear intentTapping into the zeitgeist!Luck