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Published: 30 July 2020

Fantastic recognition of Surrey's Doctoral College's efforts to support its postgraduate researchers

The Office for Students (OfS) today highlighted Surrey's efforts to support its postgraduate researchers. As one of the featured case studies, the OfS promoted the work of the Doctoral College as exemplifying best practice in the ways in which universities, colleges, research organisations, higher education sector bodies and research funders have been supporting them.

At Surrey, the University’s normal community and professional development activities (such as its ‘Three-minute thesis’ competition and university-wide Doctoral College conference, as well as the full suite of skills and career training) are continuing as planned, but in virtual form.

Some activities are being delivered more frequently, in acknowledgement that researchers need increased contact and support. The University is holding more ‘writing retreat’ sessions and its bimonthly ‘Researcher Cafe’ is now taking place weekly. Virtual Institute of Directors Programme activities are available to entrepreneurially focused researchers. The Doctoral College has also invested in Headspace licences to complement wellbeing services offered by the University, all still available virtually.

National and international researchers are supported through the ‘23 Things’ online course, which this year has researchers from UK institutions and New Zealand university partners. The course keeps researchers connected with and inspired by other researchers, while developing skills to help them promote themselves and their research. The Doctoral College has been able to keep the full range of support and training in place throughout the disruption.

Dr Kate Gleeson, Director of the Doctoral College, said: “Although things haven’t been easy for most postgraduate researchers over the last few months, while they have been working hard to keep going and to help those around them to keep going, the University of Surrey has also worked very hard to ensure their research progresses and they continue their excellent training. The University has made it very clear how important it is to support researchers at the time when they need this most. The Research and Innovation Researcher Disruption Fund is just one example of Surrey’s investment in postgraduate researchers.

“The world may feel like a very uncertain place at the moment, but one thing is clear, we don’t just want to go back to the way things were before COVID-19. The world is ready for something new. Our Postgraduate and early career researchers are the very people who are going to lead us there. We have a rich and thriving research culture at Surrey and we are determined to make sure that every postgraduate researcher meets their ambitious goals.

The world is waiting for them and the contribution that their research will make to the “new normal” world – for the research in the sciences which will help to keep us all alive and for the research in arts and social sciences that will make that life worth living. The Doctoral College team feels very privileged to play a part in that.”

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