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Additional criteria for ranking in studentship competitions

Additional criteria for ranking in studentship competitions.

A document for circulation in the next studentship competition.

At its meetings on 5th March and 2nd July, 2015 the Department of Veterinary Medicine Graduate Education Committee discussed criteria in addition to the quality of science and training opportunities offered by the project, and where appropriate the academic record and research aptitude of the candidate that are to be considered in awarding scholarships that are within the gift of the Department.

In future a statement of these criteria will be circulated to those that apply, as part of the instructions for studentship competitions.

Additional criteria that will be applied to moderate internal competitions for research studentship funding:

  • Number of current students. Normally a supervisor should be training no more than six PhD students at any one time.  No more than three new PhD students per PI should be recruited in any academic year. These numbers could be varied in special circumstances at the discretion of the Department. For example, numbers might be increased for supervisors who are also course directors looking after a first year group in a 1+3y format, for supervisors who have students on one of the 2+2 year programmes, (currently Wellcome Trust Oxford and Cambridge – NIH programme; Cambridge - Howard Hughes Janelia Farm Programme; and Cambridge – Singapore A*Star Institutes Programme), where the student is abroad in the year under consideration, and for the first year provision, supervisors of students who are entering a PhD after first taking an MPhil in the same lab. Except for graduate programme course directors with a cohort of rotation students, there will be an absolute limit of eight graduate research students under any primary supervisor, in line with current University policy.
  • Submission and Completion Rates: – [students submitting a thesis within 4 years of high enough quality to allow completion within six months of examination] – are the primary measure of supervisory success used externally, and will also be applied to internal competitions.  If the students under a given supervisor persistently fail to submit PhD theses within four years, this puts the future ability of the whole Department to obtain Research Council Studentships in jeopardy. If supervisors are repeatedly unable to get students to submit on time or to complete their PhDs, they may expect not to be offered studentships from Departmental resources and after consultation with the Head of Department, may be told that for a period (or until they have undergone further supervisory training) they may not take on more students, however these are resourced.
    • Funding Position: Security of funding to pay the recurrent costs of a student is important, but it is recognised that it is difficult to demonstrate funding three years in advance, that some studentships bring their own recurrent resource and that some projects require much more resource than others. Supervisors will be asked to indicate how they will fund recurrent costs.  In general it will be necessary to show at least that the first year recurrent costs can be funded and that plans are in hand to fund subsequent years.
    • Lab environment: Different groups run in different ways. Applicants for scholarships will be asked about day-to-day supervision of the student and about how they will ensure the student has adequate bench support and engagement with others within and outside their research group. PostDocs in a lab available to support students will sometimes have a bearing on the practicality of running a student.   But new PIs and smaller research groups will not be disadvantaged if they can show that they can provide a good environment. 
    • Other supervisory criteria: Supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that they are able to fulfil all aspects of the supervisory role.  For example, inability to meet regularly with their students, failure to complete reporting requirements through CamSIS to allow both the University and the student themselves to assess student progress, repeatedly late first year assessments are in part or in whole, supervisory failures. These and similar problems may also be taken into account when assessing supervisor performance in making funding decisions.
    • Departmental Strategy:  This will vary from time to time and will be at the discretion of the HoD, Director of Research and Executive Committee.  Potential supervisors should be aware that Departmental research strategy may be taken into account as a secondary consideration in some scholarship competitions.


New Supervisors

All inexperienced new graduate student supervisors in the Department must undertake supervisory training, and should be mentored for a period of four years (or to the completion of their first PhD student under supervision) by an experienced supervisor.