5. Student Feedback
5.2 Doctoral Research Liaison Committee: Code of Practice
- Each School shall have at least one formally constituted Doctoral Research Liaison Committee (DRLC) or equivalent Committee, where staff and doctoral researchers meet for discussion and consultation about the doctoral research degree programmes and other matters related to the quality of the Doctoral Researcher (DR) academic experience. This Committee shall be separate from each School’s SSLC for Taught students.
- It is recognised that Schools may, individually, have different names for their DRLC to suit their needs and requirements. However, each Director of Doctoral Programmes (DDP) is responsible for ensuring that their School abides by this Code of Practice and must inform the Students’ Union (LSU) if any changes are proposed to their committee’s practice that differ from what is outlined here. This Code of Practice may be used as a point of reference by DR Representatives to ensure best practice and they must agree to abide by it when commencing their role.
- DRs from each year of study and, where possible, from each Department within a School shall be represented on the Committee. Each School shall also have a DR Lead Representative who acts both as a central contact for DDPs and as a liaison between Schools and LSU. Wherever possible, Schools should consider providing, in addition to the above, representation on the Committee for part-time and/or international DRs.
- The Associate Dean of Research, Director for Doctoral Programmes, DR Administrator, and DR Representatives shall be members of the Committe ex-officio. Relevant staff may also be included in the membership. It is recommended that there should be more DRs than members of staff present at all Committee meetings. However, in cases where this is not possible, the Committee meeting shall still go ahead.
- The process for the appointment of DR Reps is as follows:
o DRs shall be invited by Schools to volunteer for the Rep role at the beginning of October each academic year. Each School’s DDP and DR Administrator will lead on appointing volunteers and should inform LSU of the appointed DR Rep names by early November, as well as those Reps that wish to continue within their posts. The material provided by LSU should be included in this initial communication, so DRs are briefed on the key responsibilities of the role prior to volunteering. It is strongly recommended that Schools work with and encourage their DR Lead Rep to promote the DR Rep position to researchers.
o Volunteers for the DR Rep role should be asked to provide a brief 50-word min statement on the reasons why they have chosen to be a representative. In cases where there are more volunteers than necessary, decisions should be based on the quality of the statement provided. There should, however, be effort to accommodate as many volunteers as viable.
o Should a DR Rep step down from their role at any point throughout the year, the same recruitment process shall apply as detailed above. Should any group of researchers not have a DR Rep for any reason, they shall be represented by their School’s DR Lead Rep.
Once DR Reps are appointed, there should be efforts to make sure representatives are informed of the school management structure and key points of contact by the administrative team. All representatives will receive formal training from LSU within the first month of taking post. To allow time for volunteers to be appointed and trained, it is recommended that the first Committee meeting of the academic year be held no earlier than the last week of November.
A Lead DR Representative shall be appointed for every School in October of every year. Applications for DR Lead Representatives will be coordinated, and appointments made by LSU. Any researcher wanting to become a Lead Representative must apply, even if they have undertaken the role previously. As well as attending their School’s DRLC, the DR Lead Representatives shall be required to attend meetings with Loughborough Students’ Union at least three times annually. To facilitate the gathering and sharing of feedback from DRs, these meetings shall normally be held at least one fortnight prior to the meetings of the Doctoral College Sub-Committee. Additional meetings may be held if they are required.
Schools should make the following information available to all DR Representatives and Lead Reps*:
· School/Departmental handbooks for DRs.
· University regulations for Research Degree Programmes and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes.
· Past School DRLC (or equivalent Committee) minutes and papers.
· Briefing on the role of the School Committee and other academic decision-making bodies.
* If available on University web pages, DR Representatives should be given appropriate links.
- The Committee shall be chaired by the School’s DDP or their nominee (normally a member, but not mandatorily, a member of academic staff). The DDP, or their nominee, is responsible for any decisions reached by the Committee and for ensuring that specific action points from meetings are carried out by the relevant staff member and reported on at the next meeting. The secretary of the Committee shall be an administrative member of School staff appointed by the DDP or nominee. It is recommended that this be the School’s DR Administrator.
- It is recommended that a minimum of three meetings of the Committee should be called in each academic year. Schools may find it useful to schedule one meeting per term. An additional meeting in term four may be called if necessary. Meetings should be scheduled to avoid narrow time constraints where members do not have time to raise points deemed to be important. Mechanisms should be available to allow groups of members to have additional meetings called in case of need. Contributions for the agenda should be called for approximately two weeks prior to the meeting and an approved agenda (including any papers or reports) should be circulated at least one week prior to the meeting to members of the Committee. The timeline should allow for DR Representatives to collect feedback from their cohorts. Every member of the Committee shall have the right to submit items for inclusion on the agenda and to submit papers for discussion. The DRLC (or equivalent) should have the following agenda as a minimum. This does not preclude Schools including additional agenda items as and when appropriate:
· Minutes of the last meeting
· Matters arising from the minutes not on the agenda
· Reports (can include reports from):
- DR Representatives
- Academic Librarian
- Careers Network
- University consultations
· Reports to be considered at least once in the academic year:
- Outcomes from the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) and actions taken in response
· Any other business
· Date of the next meeting
Full minutes shall be kept of each meeting. These minutes will clearly and fairly record all points raised, along with the initials of the member of staff or DR Representative responsible for ensuring the point is actioned and reported back on at the following Committee. The minutes shall be circulated within ten working days of the meeting by email to every member of the Committee and forwarded to the next School Research Committee meeting. A copy shall be sent to LSU (email@example.com). It is strongly recommended that minutes from the meeting are circulated to all DRs in the School.
- Where the School or LSU have concerns about any aspect of a DR Rep or, Lead Rep’s performance in the role, LSU will first seek to meet with them to offer some additional training and support. If their performance does not improve, a decision shall be made by LSU, following discussion with the School and DR Lead Rep (as appropriate) as to whether it would be appropriate and beneficial to re-appoint the position. If a DR Rep or Lead DR Rep chooses to step down from their role, LSU will work with the School to appoint a replacement.
- Where a DR Rep or Lead Rep has concerns over the way a DRLC (or equivalent) is run, the representative should contact LSU (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the first instance. LSU colleagues will then liaise directly with the School/Department.