My week - 17 March 2014 - investing in our researchers

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands.

Sir Alan Langlands

If we do nothing else in 2014, we will benefit from investing in the recruitment of more postgraduate researchers (PGRs).

Building on the success of attracting twelve new doctoral training centres funded by the UK research councils, the decision announced at Senate to invest £10m in a new scholarship programme will draw on a pool of high quality applicants and move the University to a new level. Launched as ‘The University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Researcher Scholarships’ this programme, which will recruit up to 110 new PGR students for both 2014 and 2015 entry, will be supported by £5m of University investment to fund 50% of the scholarships with the other 50% matched by faculties and schools either from their own resources or preferably through matched funding from industrial partners or other funders.

By adding to the number of outstanding PGR students recruited to Leeds we will build our research capacity and improve our PhD completion rates for REF 2020.

This initiative is only one element of plans to boost research, student education and academic leadership currently under discussion as part of the University’s review of strategy – for example, consideration is now being given to supporting an increase in early career academic appointments which lead to tenure track positions. Watch this space!

In student education we will remain committed to innovation in education – honing our offers of joint honours and integrated masters programmes and promoting more flexible curricular, supporting online engagement and collaboration, and the co-creation of programmes with students and employers; encouraging new employer partnerships; and promoting a step change in internationalisation. Our commitment to academic excellence and the integration of research, scholarship and education will remain at the heart of our mission, ensuring that all students have a strong academic experience based on deep subject knowledge that puts a premium on independent learning and critical thinking.

In research, the aim will be to achieve greater consistency in the quality of research outputs across all disciplines and to support interdisciplinary research networks which address societal need and of course the priorities of funders in the UK and the European Union. And...finishing where I started, we will give priority to building vibrant PhD and post doctorate communities, ensuring that PhD students and early career researchers have access to well organised platform technologies which meet industry standards and provide opportunities to develop the advanced skills of expertise required for research success.

The University’s emerging strategy will take the form of a plan of action to achieve specific objectives and it will focus on what matters in student education and research. The investment in PGR is one example of what can happen when the University has the self-confidence to tackle change head on.  By working together we can multiply this sort of initiative as we build on past success.

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