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The COUNCIL and the GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:
1. In February 1997 a Working Group was established by the Council and the General Board to consider the responses received to a consultation paper, circulated by the central bodies, on the possibility of (i) introducing a third route to a doctoral degree to supplement the Ph.D. based on full-time, residential research and the Ph.D. based on publication under the Special Regulations (Statutes and Ordinances, pp. 462 and 466), (ii) introducing an alternative route to the other research degrees of M.Litt. and M.Sc. (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 462), and to formulate a scheme for their introduction in the University. The Working Group's Report was submitted in February 1999 and was referred by the Council and the General Board to the Education Committee of the General Board, the Board of Graduate Studies, and the Board of Continuing Education for detailed consideration. The Working Group's Report is reproduced in the Annex below, together with the consultation paper.
2. The Council and the Board have agreed to propose the introduction of such a scheme, initially in a small number of 'pilot' institutions, on the following strategic grounds:
|(i)||the widening of access to postgraduate education is desirable in itself; since the consultation paper was prepared, that view has been reinforced by the Government's commitment to the widening of participation and development of a culture of lifelong learning;|
|(ii)||substantial educational, economic, and social benefits can accrue from the personal and professional development of those in industry and the professions;|
|(iii)||there is already a pool of suitable candidates within the University (for example Research Assistants, and other University employees) who wish to pursue doctoral study on a part-time basis at Cambridge; it is in the University's interests to provide for such candidates, many of whom currently register elsewhere, and it can be expected that benefits will accrue to the candidate's institution as well as to the particular individual;|
|(iv)||such provision could serve to strengthen the collaborative links between University institutions and the external organizations with which some candidates may be associated.|
3. The Council and the General Board have received from the Planning and Resources Committee a preliminary assessment of the potential resource implications of this proposal. They are satisfied for the time being that many of those implications can only be properly assessed when a particular proposal for the introduction of arrangements for part-time research degrees has been put forward by an institution. They are aware that there could be more general implications for the University Library and other central academic services, such as the University Computing Service, which they would be willing to address in due course in the light of a detailed financial analysis. They also recognize that there would be resource implications for participating Colleges.
4. The Council and the General Board are presently of the view that the strategic considerations outweigh any present uncertainties about the detail of the extra resources that may be required. As stated in paragraph 2 above, they expect that the scheme, if approved, would only be offered in a small number of 'pilot' institutions initially, in order to allow time to assess and provide any special arrangements necessary for this substantial development.
5. In view of the general importance of a number of the issues raised, the Council and the General Board have agreed that it would be appropriate to publish the Report for discussion by the University with the following recommendation:
That a scheme of part-time research leading to the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Letters, and Master of Science be introduced in the University, with effect from the academical year 2001-02, subject to a further Report proposing the necessary amendments to Statutes and Ordinances.
31 January 2000
|ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor||T. JONES||ONORA O'NEILL|
|G. R. EVANS||DONALD LAMING||JEREMY SANDERS|
|A. L. R. FINDLAY||MELISSA LANE||M. SARDY|
|S. L. GROO||JOHN A. LEAKE||M. SCHOFIELD|
|DAVID HARRISON||A. M. LONSDALE||DAVID M. THOMPSON|
|GORDON JOHNSON||M. D. MACLEOD||R. E. THORNTON|
12 January 2000
|ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor||MALCOLM GRANT||N. J. MACKINTOSH|
|P. J. BAYLEY||BRIAN F. G. JOHNSON||ADRIAN POOLE|
|A. L. R. FINDLAY||JOHN A. LEAKE||KATE PRETTY|
|K. GLOVER||PETER LIPTON||M. SCHOFIELD|
1.1 The Working Group was established by the Council and the General Board to consider the responses received to a consultation paper, circulated by the central bodies in February 1997, on the possibility of introducing a part-time doctoral degree, and to formulate a scheme for the introduction of such a degree which might form the basis of firm proposals to the University. A copy of the consultation paper is appended to this Report.
1.2 Membership of the Working Group is as follows:
Professor B. F. G. Johnson, F Appointed by the Council
Mr D. P. F. McCallum, W Secretary of the Board of Graduate Studies
Dr A. D. B. Poole, T Appointed by the General Board
Mr G. W. J. Rennie, W Secretary of the Education Committee of the General Board
Dr M. A. Stanley, CHR Appointed by the Board of Graduate Studies
Mr D. Waggoner, TH Graduate Student representative, appointed by the Council
The University Draftsman, and Miss K. Brown, Assistant Registrary in the office of Board of Graduate Studies, also attended the Working Group's meetings.
2.1 The Working Group has, during the course of its deliberations, considered the following documentation:
2.2 The Secretary of the Board of Continuing Education and the Director of the Cambridge Programme for Industry attended one of the Working Group's meetings, by invitation. On the Working Group's behalf, the Secretary of the Board of Graduate Studies met informally with representatives of a number of institutions, across a range of disciplines, to seek reaction to the Working Group's deliberations and to gain a sense of how they envisaged a part-time research degree operating within their own institution.
3.1 Fifty-eight written responses to the consultation paper were received (twenty-two from Faculty Boards, comparable authorities and Degree Committees, ten from Departments and comparable institutions and twenty-one from Colleges, together with responses from the Board of Continuing Education, the Library Syndicate, the Senior Tutors' Committee, the Bursars' Committee, and the Graduate Union).
3.2 The number of respondents who were opposed to the principle of introducing a part-time doctoral degree was small. However, a rather larger number preferred to reserve their position until a firm set of proposals was available. Amongst the majority of respondents who accepted the idea in principle, the Working Group was struck by the differing levels of support and enthusiasm indicated and by the extent to which expressions of support were tempered by caveats and reservations about particular issues. This has significantly influenced the Working Group's deliberations and the proposals which follow. Equally, however, it should be noted that amongst those respondents who were generally supportive of the principle, there were a number of issues raised in the consultation document on which there was a broad consensus of agreement.
The consultation paper posed three fundamental questions, before going on to raise a range of more particular issues. These are reproduced below, with a commentary.
4.1 'Is the nature of a Cambridge research degree such that it is possible to conceive of it being available in a satisfactory part-time mode?'
The majority of respondents thought it possible to conceive of a satisfactory part-time version of a Cambridge research degree being available, although many did so with qualifications and reservations. A number of respondents viewed part-time research degrees as a logical extension of the part-time provision presently available in the University through a number of degrees and other qualifications, for example the M.Ed. and M.St. Degrees, the Diploma in Public Health, and various Diplomas and Certificates awarded by the Board of Continuing Education.
4.2 'If the answer to the first question is positive, whether or not with qualifications, then what framework would be necessary so as to preserve the character and standard of research degrees and the benefits arising from offering those degrees in a collegiate environment, whilst also providing sufficient flexibility to meet the needs and circumstances of likely clienteles and of the various disciplines (including those involving experimental and laboratory-based work)?'
The Working Group's proposed framework within which part-time research degrees might be offered is described in detail in the remainder of this report. It is the firm opinion of the Working Group, mindful of the responses to the consultation document, that if such provision is to be offered in a satisfactory way, it should be based on the tenets outlined in 4.2.1-4.2.4 below.
4.2.1 Part-time provision for research degrees should not distort a Faculty or Department's full-time provision or its other academic activities. Proposals for part-time provision should be made through Faculty Boards (and comparable bodies) for consideration by the Board of Graduate Studies and the General Board, who should be expected to pay close attention to the academic and resource implications for the institution's other activities.
4.2.2 Whilst a part-time doctoral degree should be generic, there should be no expectation or requirement that every Faculty, Department, and College should be involved with it. It seems clear, from the responses received, that there will be institutions and Colleges which do not wish to be involved. The Working Group envisages the regulations for part-time research degrees includ-ing a Schedule, to be amended over time, of those Faculties and Departments with approved arrangements for part-time research degrees. (The Working Group has noted that the arrangements for the part-time D.Phil. at Oxford presently cover just three subject areas (Educational Studies, Local History, and Software Engineering).) The Working Group anticipates that, at least initially, the number of students registered for a part-time research degree is likely to be limited. It agrees that it is advisable that this should be so, but without restricting future growth should circumstances so warrant.
4.2.3 The Working Group is very firmly of the view that part-time provision should not be inconsistent with what the Group takes to be the essential features of the University's arrangements for research students, i.e.
The Working Group's proposals are based on a determination to preserve these features in a framework for part-time research degrees.
4.2.4 The Working Group takes the view that the most appropriate framework - and one which is consistent with the responses received - will in-volve an explicit set of minimum University-wide expectations and requirements in respect of: admissions criteria; College membership; attendance requirements; minimum and maximum periods of registration; and supervisory and administrative arrangements. Participating institutions may choose to apply additional requirements, according to local circumstances, with regard to admissions criteria, attendance and training requirements, and supervisory arrangements. Examination arrangements and the criteria for the award of degrees should be uniform across the University and should be identical to those in place for research degrees for which registration as a Graduate Student is required.
Whilst acknowledging that the range of circumstances applying to prospective students may justify a certain flexibility of approach, the Working Group is not of the view that 'catch all' arrangements, capable of accommodating every type of demand for part-time study, are appropriate. Indeed, as will be evident from later recommendations, there may, in the Working Group's view, be areas in which an approach rather more prescriptive than that which currently applies to full-time Graduate Students should be adopted. The Working Group believes it possible to reconcile an appropriately robust set of arrangements with the needs and circumstances of part-time research students and with future growth in part-time student numbers (should such growth be thought advisable).
4.3 'If a satisfactory framework could be established, is this self-evidently major innovation something which Cambridge would wish to effect, bearing in mind the current financial climate, provision elsewhere in the HE sector and the existing demands on University and College resources?'
4.3.1 The arguments for the University's involvement with the provision of part-time research degrees are summarized in section 2 of the consultation document.
The present Government's commitment to widening access, to the development of a 'learning society' and to the encouragement of different patterns of access and of increased flexibility, on the part of universities, in responding to learning needs, has been widely and repeatedly publicized. So far, however, as the Working Group has been able to discern, there has been no explicit indication of how this commitment applies, in a tangible form, in the area of part-time study for a research degree. The Working Group noted the reference, in the Government's Green Paper 'The Learning Age', to their intention to 'make provision [as one priority for public funding] for the highest level of postgraduate education'. The Secretary of State's announcement (December 1998) of HE funding for 1999-2000 and beyond is much concerned, in relation to the funding of additional student numbers, with supporting part-time access. So far as postgraduates are concerned, the DfEE envisage an increase, by 2000-01, of 11,000 above the 1998-99 figures, of which 8,000 should be part-time. This increase is smaller than the increase (29,000) envisaged for part-time students at first and sub-degree level. Nevertheless, it seems likely, in the current political climate, that an unwillingness or an inability to offer part-time research degrees will not reflect well on the University. The Working Group has ascertained that Cambridge is the only UK university not presently offering such provision. It seems likely that the introduction of such provision would serve as an important indicator of the University's commitment to widening access and to contributing to professional development at the highest level. Such provision will also, according to a number of respondents, enhance the University's accessibility to industry and the professions and extend the University's range of relationships with external organizations.
4.3.2 The Working Group has concluded that the responses received to the consultation document provide sufficient evidence to warrant a Report to the University recommending the introduction of part-time research degrees, subject to the central bodies being satisfied that the resource implications of what will be a significant academic development can be constructively addressed.
4.3.3 The Working Group is conscious of the financial climate in which its Report is made. In the event that the Working Group's proposals are accepted, the central bodies and the University as a whole should appreciate that the provision of part-time research degrees will involve a major strategic commitment. It will be essential to ensure that provision is properly resourced, within both participating institutions and Colleges and the relevant central facilities and services, so that the necessary academic, administrative, and collegiate facilities are available to part-time research students and at times appropriate to those students' circumstances. The scale of commitment ought on no account to be underestimated on the grounds of the relatively small size of the part-time research student population initially envisaged. Those other universities which have been consulted have made clear that part-time research degree provision cannot be considered a self-funding activity.
4.3.4 As indicated earlier, the Working Group would expect the resource implications of any proposal by a Faculty Board or comparable body for the introduction of part-time research degree arrangements to be subject to close scrutiny by the Board of Graduate Studies and the General Board. Later in this Report, reference is made to the resource implications for the administration of part-time research degrees. In addition, the central bodies should accept that there will be significant resource implications for all central facilities and that these will need to be positively addressed. All central facilities are likely to feel the impact of the existence of a new, and very different, type of Graduate Student, but amongst the facilities likely to be particularly affected are the University Library and other libraries in the University.
Information obtained from other universities indicates that a very considerable proportion of part-time research students are engaged in library and archive-based research. The particular demands of part-time students will have a marked effect on the services offered by the University Library. If, as seems likely, the majority of part-time research students will be in employment and from outside Cambridge, the constraints on their time will cause them to expect extended daily and weekend opening hours. An increased demand for remote services is also very likely, in respect of both the University Library and those other libraries which constitute a major national research resource. Students with no independent access to electronic sources will increase demand for library staff to undertake database searches. Overall, it seems certain that the likely level and the nature of part-time research student demand for library facilities will be such that it cannot be met from existing resources.
Other facilities likely to be affected by an influx of part-time research students are the Computing Service and the University Centre. In the Working Group's view, a detailed cost analysis of the implications for all central facilities should be undertaken if part-time research degrees are to be introduced.
The consultation paper raised a number of particular issues which needed to be addressed in the event that the University is prepared to make the strategic decision to offer part-time research degrees.
5.1 College membership
5.1.1 The consultation process revealed near unanimous support for College membership to be required of part-time research students and the Working Group sees no reason to dissent from that view.
5.1.2 As indicated earlier, it is quite possible that some Colleges will not wish to accept part-time research students into membership. The Working Group understand that not all Oxford Colleges admit part-time D.Phil. students.
5.1.3 There was no consensus, amongst the responses to the consultation document, as to whether it would be appropriate for students to be concentrated in particular Colleges. The Working Group sees no reason for such a concentration. It does, however, see merit in encouraging early interaction between those Faculties who propose making arrangements for part-time research students and particular Colleges, of the kind which presently takes place in connection with the College membership of students on certain M.St. Degree courses, so as to attempt to ensure that the Colleges concerned are aware from an early stage of the periods when College facilities would be required, and can decide whether their co-operation is feasible.
5.1.4 In considering whether they wish to accept part-time research students, each College will wish to assess the extent to which logistical issues (for example, the students' accommodation needs) can be satisfactorily addressed. Equally importantly, they will wish to consider the extent to which the social and intellectual benefits of a collegiate environment can be satisfactorily delivered, including ways in which the students might be integrated with the rest of the College's membership. The circumstances and expectations of part-time research students may be expected to pose challenges for the Colleges, and the Working Group think it likely that a pro-active tutorial approach will be called for.
5.1.5 It will be important that participating Colleges provide as clear and explicit an indication as possible of what facilities they will be able to offer, together with any restrictions on availability, so that students can make informed choices in their College preferences.
5.1.6 The Working Group recommends that the office of the Board of Graduate Studies should, with regard to the formal processing of applications for College admission, perform the same role as it plays in respect of other applicants seeking admission as a registered Graduate Student.
5.2 Title of the doctoral degree
In accordance with the consensus of views expressed in response to the consultation paper, and given that the standard of the degree is intended to be identical to that applied to the Ph.D. Degree through the full-time residential route, the Working Group recommends the title of Ph.D.
5.3 Other research degrees
5.3.1 The Working Group agrees with the view, repeatedly expressed in the responses to the consultation paper, that if a part-time doctoral degree is to be introduced, then provision should also be made for candidature for the M.Sc. and M.Litt. Degrees on a part-time basis. It sees no reason why these degrees should not serve the same three purposes as they do for full-time research students, i.e. a qualification available (i) to Ph.D. candidates not recommended for that degree after examination, (ii) to those who wish to pursue research at an advanced level but not, for either financial or other reasons, for the period of time necessary to meet the Ph.D. requirements, and (iii) as an interim registration status, leaving open the possibility of later up-grading to Ph.D. candidature. Indeed, the Working Group believes that provision for part-time registration for a Master's Degree by research is particularly advisable, for two reasons. First, there may well be instances in which a change in a student's personal or professional circumstances means that completion of a doctorate ceases to be feasible, whereas writing up work for a lower degree is achievable. Secondly, such provision is consistent with the Group's view that there should be a number of formal 'staging posts' for assessing a student's progress (see 10.8 below).
5.3.2 The Working Group believes that the logistical difficulties which would be involved did not warrant its considering the possibility of offering the M.Phil. Degree on a part-time basis. It notes, however, that it may be necessary to consider of-fering certain subjects within the Certificate of Postgraduate Study on a part-time basis, where Departments responsible for particular Certificate courses expect to require part-time entrants successfully to pursue the Certificate of Postgraduate Study prior to registration for a research degree.
The examinations for the Ph.D., M.Sc., and M.Litt. Degrees via the part-time route should be exactly the same as those for the full-time, residential, version of those degrees, in terms of: the criteria for the award of the degrees; the range of recommendations open to the Examiners; the examination arrangements; and the respective roles of the Degree Committees and the Board of Graduate Studies.
5.5 Level and type of demand
5.5.1 The Working Group believes that a part-time doctorate at Cambridge will attract a high level of interest. A number of the respondents to the consultation paper reported regular enquiries, from both within and outside the University, about the possibility of pursuing a research degree on a part-time basis.
5.5.2 National data, which might have helped to quantify the level of demand, is not easily obtainable. National application rates are not available. Nor is it easy to calculate the proportion of UK research students registered on a part-time basis, because HESA include within their statistics for part-timers those who have completed three years of full-time registration but are yet to complete. However, such national data as is available suggests that part-timers make up a considerable (and ever increasing) proportion of all research students, with more than 6,000 commencing each year. The Working Group notes with interest that, according to the most recent national data available, more than one-third of the annual part-time research student intake is in the social sciences and humanities.
5.5.3 The consultation process reflected a general view that part-time numbers should, at least initially, be relatively modest. This is a view with which the Working Group concurs. The Group does not, however, recommend either that a ceiling be set for the maximum number of part-time registrations across the University (as presently exists in connection with the M.St. Degree) or that any other central mechanism for controlling numbers be put in place. It believes that participating Faculties and Departments are best placed to determine numbers, according to their resources, the nature of their current graduate student provision and of the arrangements envisaged for part-time students, and the level of qualified demand. However, when considering proposals for part-time provision, the Board of Graduate Studies and the General Board should be expected to seek a clear indication of anticipated student numbers.
5.5.4 The Working Group believes that it is important to take steps to attempt, so far as possible, to avoid large numbers of enquiries and applications from those for whom part-time doctoral study at Cambridge is not appropriate, whether because of the individuals' academic credentials or their particular circumstances. It hopes that this can be achieved by setting out the University's requirements and expectations very clearly in admission literature and by the setting of rigorous admissions criteria. The Working Group has given much thought to the nature of those criteria. It is in no doubt that, in terms of previous academic achievements, the minimum standard should be no less than that which applies to full-time applicants, in terms of both the University's general requirement, as required by the Board of Graduate Studies, and any higher requirement applying in a particular Faculty or Department. There should, in addition, be the following admissions criteria to be applied across the University:
(a) Applicants should supply satisfactory evidence that their personal and professional commitments are such that full-time study for a research degree is not practicable and that these other commitments are not inconsistent with the University's requirements for part-time study and any other requirements which may be set by the Faculty or Department concerned. It is, in the Working Group's view, important that difficulty in securing funding to pursue a course of research on a full-time basis should not be the sole, nor predominant, determining criterion for eligibility to be admitted on a part-time basis, or else demand for full-time graduate study would be severely undermined and the numbers seeking part-time registration would be unmanageable.
(b) Where an applicant is in employment, satisfactory evidence of the employer's general support for the application and specific willingness to allow the applicant to attend the University as required should be provided. In instances where the research topic proposed will be pursued using facilities based in part in the applicant's work place, details of those facilities and confirmation of access should also be provided.
(c) Before recommending an applicant's admission, the Degree Committee and, where applicable, the Head of the institution concerned must be satisfied that the topic proposed is one which appears capable of being satisfactorily completed to the required standard on a part-time basis, bearing in mind the applicant's other commitments, the ease of access to the necessary research facilities, and the extent to which the proposed work can keep pace with developments in the field concerned, notwithstanding that it will be undertaken over an extended period of time. The last of these criteria may well have a bear-ing on the extent to which certain institutions will be able to accommodate part-time research students.
(d) Prior to any offer of admission being recommended, the applicant should be subject to an interview by the appropriate Departmental or Degree Committee authorities.
(e) Referees should be asked to comment not only on the applicant's suitability for the course of research proposed and on past academic achievements, but also on the applicant's ability to handle different responsibilities simultaneously.
5.5.5 The Working Group recognizes that individual Faculties and Departments may wish to impose further admissions criteria of their own, for example previous postgraduate study, relevant experience in the field within which the research proposal falls, or confirmation that the topic complements the nature of the applicant's employment.
5.5.6 Within these parameters, the type of candidate who may be suitable for part-time research may vary. It seems clear that some Faculties and Departments, particularly in scientific subjects, envisage part-time status as being an appropriate route to the Ph.D. Degree for individuals working in companies and other organizations with which the Faculty or Department already has established links, and which have facilities suitable for the research proposed. Other types of candidates may include those who, because of domestic commitments, are not in a position to pursue research full-time, or who intend to use doctoral work as a stepping stone in a change of career or to enhance their prospects in their current career.
It has been put to the Working Group that, broadly speaking, suitable applicants may fall into one of two categories: individual, interested in engaging in research at doctoral level for either personal satisfaction or to enhance their professional opportunities, or professionals who already pursue research as a function of their employment. It has been suggested that those in the first category offer particular scope for broadening the University's doctoral provision and for generally extending the University's extramural contribution and the range and nature of its relationships with external organizations.
5.5.7 The introduction of a part-time route to a doctoral degree is perceived in some quarters as being particularly appropriate for researchers and others employed by the University. This perception is not, however, universally shared, with others expressing the view that the responsibilities imposed by the job for which an individual is employed are incompatible with the demands of a research degree, albeit pursued on a part-time basis. The Working Group understand that the general view of the Research Councils is that those who are employed through research grants should, if they wish to pursue a doctorate, do so outside of their normal hours of work. It may in any event be thought unlikely that those on short-term contracts will be in a position to pursue a part-time doctorate over six years (see 9.1 below). The Working Group takes the view that (a) University employees seeking admission as Graduate Students on a part-time basis should be subject to the same admissions criteria (as described in 5.5.4 above) as other applicants, and (b) it is for the Uni-versity, as employer, to determine the extent to which appropriately qualified employees should be encouraged to pursue part-time research for a research degree and the extent to which such encouragement should include concessionary fee arrangements.
6.1 The Working Group is clear that the development of a part-time route to the Ph.D. Degree must not distort demand for full-time registration. It believes that the admissions criteria proposed in 5.5.4 above will help to avoid any such distortion. Whilst the Group acknowledges that the level of demand for full-time doctoral study on the part of UK students is, as recent Annual Reports by the Board of Graduate Studies have indicated, not as buoyant as was once the case, there are a number of external factors influencing that demand, and the Working Group thinks it unlikely that, with stringent admissions criteria and the modest numbers envisaged, the availability of a part-time route to the Ph.D. Degree will in itself further undermine full-time numbers.
6.2 It is, however, recommended that whilst it should be possible, in the event of a change in a student's circumstances, to transfer from part- to full-time registration, there should be no provision for transfers in the other direction, once full-time study for a research degree has commenced. The Working Group believes that without such a prohibition, there would be a significant and undesirable demand from full-time Graduate Students, particularly those supported through private means, to transfer to part-time status. This would, in the Working Group's opinion, have a damaging effect on full-time numbers and completion rates and on the organization of Faculties' and Departments' graduate programmes.
6.3 In the course of consultation with other universities, the importance of integrating part-time students with full-timers so as to avoid perceptions of isolation or of inferiority has been repeatedly emphasized. The Working Group recognizes that to offer part-time students provision which simply duplicates that offered to full-timers is not feasible in resource terms and is unlikely to encourage integration. Some Faculties and Departments seem likely to require that part-timers demonstrate their ability to participate, albeit on a part-time basis, in the arrangements currently in place for full-time students, with no intention of a significant rescheduling of those arrangements. Other Faculties and Departments may be willing and able to reschedule their graduate training programmes so as to allow joint participation by both full- and part-time students, through, for example, weekend conferences and seminars and 'twilight' hours time-tabling. The Working Group would expect any submission for the introduction of part-time provision to demonstrate the extent to which the provision for part-time students can be integrated within the Faculty or Department's overall graduate student provision, with appropriate access for part-timers to the range of academic resources already available to their full-time counterparts. Equally, those Colleges willing to admit part-time research students will wish to consider means of integrating them with the rest of the College membership.
6.4 One significant way in which the University could signal that part-time research students are not disadvantaged in comparison with their full-time counterparts would be to establish, wherever practicable, their eligibility for University Studentships and other types of awards and prizes. The Working Group recommends that the relevant bodies consider appropriate amendments to any regulations governing such awards. It also hopes that the Colleges follow suit. The Working Group understands that at present, the ESRC offer part-time studentships. It is not yet known whether the AHRB will continue the practice of its predecessor, the HRB, in also offering such studentships. The Working Group understands that the level and quality of demand for such studentships has to date been such that there is some scope for well-qualified Cambridge applicants to benefit from such provision.
7.1 The Working Group is very firmly of the view that the University Composition Fees for which a part-time research student should be liable should be no less in total than for a full-time student. The part-time route should not be perceived as a cheaper means of obtaining a Cambridge doctorate.
7.2 It is recommended that the University Composition Fee should be standard across the University and that it should be 50 per cent of the full-time Graduate Student fee for the academical year in question. This would be consistent with the arrangements in place at many other universities, including Oxford.
7.3 It is recommended also that a part-time student should be liable for the University Composition Fee for at least the number of terms required to meet the minimum course requirements (see Section 9 below). The Working Group has noted with interest that at many other universities it is standard practice to continue to charge a fee for each year the student remains registered (with, in some instances, an increased level of fee being charged after the minimum period of registration), and it believes that it is worth exploring further whether the arrangements in place for full-time students (whereby exemption from the University Composition Fee can be routinely sought after the minimum number of terms of research have been completed) must perforce apply equally to part-timers.
7.4 Fee liability on the part of full-time Graduate Students depends on residence. (Thus, for example, full-time research students granted leave to work away for particular terms are not liable for the University Composition Fee for those terms). Given the Working Group's recommendation (see 8.1 below) that part-time research students should be subject to an attendance, rather than a residential, requirement, it is recommended that their fee liability should continue for each term up to and including (at least) the term in which the minimum course requirements are met, irrespective of the periods of study spent in Cambridge. However, as is the case for full-timers, fee liability should not apply to terms recorded as terms of intermission (see 9.6 below).
7.5 It is not for the Working Group to comment on the appropriate level of College fee. That will be a matter for the individual Colleges. It notes, however, that the Oxford Colleges charge 50 per cent of the full-time fee for those registered for the D.Phil. Degree on a part-time basis.
8.1 The consultation document invited comments on whether there should be a formal minimum residential requirement for a part-time doctorate. In accordance with the majority of responses received, the Working Group recommends that, as is the case with the University's other part-time postgraduate degrees, there should not be a formal residential requirement, but there should be a minimum annual attendance requirement, compliance with which should be monitored and certified. It should be for the Board of Graduate Studies to consider what that minimum requirement should be and how it should be defined, bearing in mind likely variations between subject areas. The Working Group recognizes that participating Faculties and Departments may wish to impose additional attendance requirements. These might involve, for example, continuous attendance for a period of time to participate in research training programmes, or attendance at particular times to participate in Graduate Student seminars. The Working Group envisages that there may be significant differences between particular Faculties and Departments in this respect. In some cases, where the student has regular access in his or her place of work to the necessary research facilities, attendance in Cambridge beyond the minimum may be less frequent than for the student who is more heavily reliant on the University's facilities. Similarly, a student who, by dint of previous qualifications or experience, is not required to undertake Cambridge-based training in research may need to be in attendance less frequently than a student in need of such training.
8.2 The consultation document also raised the question whether there should be any formal geographical limitation, applicable to all part-time research students, on the distance between the students' normal place of residence and the University. The Working Group has concluded that it would not be appropriate to set what would (in its view) be a necessarily arbitrary limit of this kind. It believes Degree Committees and Departments are best placed to assess the extent to which an applicant's location is appropriate. Any such geographical limitation would, effectively, be indirectly determined by a Faculty or Department's, and (to a lesser extent) the University's, attendance requirements. Thus, for example, if there were a requirement to attend a weekly seminar or a continuous period for initial research training, candidates a considerable distance from Cambridge would be unlikely to be in a position to meet such a requirement. In recommending an applicant's admission, a Degree Committee, and, where applicable, the Head of Department would need to be satisfied that the applicant's normal place of residence was such that compliance with the University's attendance requirements and those of the institution concerned was feasible and that the applicant had access to the necessary external research-related facilities during the periods when not in attendance
9.1 Whilst the amount of time which a part-time student may be able to devote to his or studies may well vary, the Working Group takes the view that there should be a minimum number of terms of research to be completed in order to be of standing to submit a dissertation. It recommends that for candidates registered for the Ph.D. Degree, this should be eighteen terms and for M.Sc. and M.Litt. Degree candidates, twelve terms (i.e. double the minimum number of terms of research required of their full-time counterparts). These minimum periods of registration are consistent with the weighting accorded to part-time research students by the HEFCE.
9.2 As is presently the case for the full-time, residential, versions of these degrees, there should be provision to exempt candidates from a number of terms of research on the basis of relevant research or other work undertaken prior to formal admission as a registered Graduate Student. The maximum number of terms from which a full-time candidate for a research degree may seek exemption is three. Accordingly, the Working Group recommends that the maximum for part-time students should be six. It is the normal practice of the Board of Graduate Studies that applications for exemption from terms of research should be made when there is firm evidence of the candidate's ability to submit before the end of the normal minimum period of registration, and the Group sees no reason why this policy should not equally be applied to part-time students.
Full-time candidates registered for a research degree may also seek to have counted towards the requirements of a research degree up to three terms of candidature for an M.Phil. Degree (one-year course), the Certificate of Postgraduate Study, or certain Diplomas. On the same basis, part-time candidates for a research degree who have successfully completed one of these qualifications should be eligible to seek to have them counted towards up to six terms of their part-time research degree candidature. Consideration should be given to the desirability of offering the same eligibility to candidates who have successfully completed the M.St. or M.Ed. Degree.
9.3 In considering the timetable within which part-time candidates should be required to submit, the Working Group believes that it is not appropriate simply to double the length of time allowed to full-time candidates. Once they have completed their minimum course requirements, the majority of full-time candidates are in a position comparable to part-time candidates, in that they will typically have other commitments additional to writing up their dissertations. Full-time candidates are required, unless permission to defer submission has been granted, to submit by the end of the vacation following the term after the term in which they completed their minimum requirements (i.e., in the majority of cases, the end of the vacation following the tenth term). The Working Group recommends that the same timetable be applied to part-time candidates, (i.e. for Ph.D. candidates, the end of the vacation following their nineteenth term) and that if they are unable to submit by then, they must apply for leave to defer submission in the same way as their full-time counterparts.
9.4 The importance of full-time Ph.D. students submitting within four years from the date from which registration took effect is well recognized. This is consistent with the expectations of the main UK studentship providers. The Working Group recommends that the equivalent expectation for part-time students is that they should submit within seven years. Those responsible for part-time research degrees at other universities have emphasized the need to take steps to avoid 'drift' in completion, that is to say that, given the extent to which a part-time candidate's circumstances can change, the proportion of part-time students who do not complete can be significantly higher than is the case for full-time students. The Working Group understands that at Oxford it is intended that part-time candidates who have not submitted after nine years should not be allowed to continue with their registration, nor be allowed to submit at a later date. The Working Group notes that it has not been the normal policy of the Board of Graduate Studies and the Degree Committees to deny candidates who have satisfactorily completed the minimum number of terms required, but who have been withdrawn from the Register of Graduate Students after failing to meet the prescribed timetable for submission, the possibility of reinstatement at a later date when a dissertation is ready for submission. It should be for those bodies to consider whether there should be any variation in that policy in respect of part-timers. It would, in the Working Group's view, be very undesirable if over time there were to be a significant imbalance between the numbers annually admitted and the numbers completing. Nor could Supervisors be reasonably expected to continue to act indefinitely. The Working Group believes it essential and in the interests of all parties concerned, that the procedures for monitoring progress (see 10 below) are sufficiently robust and regular for properly informed judgements to be made as to whether eventual completion is achievable.
9.5 Some respondents expressed concern about the impact of part-time registrations on Ph.D. submission and completion rates. The Working Group understands that those UK funding bodies which provide studentships on a part-time basis keep separate their submission and completion statistics for full- and part-time students. It is recommended that the Board of Graduate Studies do likewise, when calculating and disseminating submission and completion rate analyses.
9.6 Whilst provision for allowing periods of formal intermission should exist for part-time research students as it does for full-timers, the Working Group recognizes that there is a greater potential for changes in part-time research students' circumstances. Those responsible for considering applications to intermit should very carefully consider each application for formal intermission on its merits. Candidates themselves, when faced with a change in their circumstances (for example, changes in employment or location) will need to consider whether they remain in a position to meet the requirements of the degree sought. The Working Group is of the view that as part of the admission process, it should be made clear to those offered admission that if, after admission, their circumstances change, responsibility for continuing to meet the University's requirements and those of the Faculty or Department and the College concerned is the candidate's.
10.1 It is likely that as the Quality Assurance Agency turns its attention more closely to research student provision, there will be greater external scrutiny than has operated hitherto of institutional arrangements for supervision, training, and monitoring student progress. The arrangements for full-time research students, whether they be University-wide as determined by the Board of Graduate Studies or locally applicable within individual Faculties and Departments, have developed over time in response to both external and internal requirements and expectations. The Working Group believes it critical that, from the outset, systematic arrangements are put in place for regulating the supervision and research training of part-time students and for monitoring their progress; arrangements which are sufficiently robust to withstand external scrutiny, which provide means of guarding against low completion rates and which offer part-time students what are held to be the distinguishing characteristics of a Cambridge doctoral education. Accordingly, it seems likely to the Working Group that these arrangements will need to be more formal, more fully documented and, in certain aspects, more prescriptive than may presently be the case for full-time students.
10.2 The provision of formal research training is becoming more widespread across the University, that training being determined by the requirements of the particular discipline, each student's previous academic background and, increasingly, by the requirements and expectations of the principal UK studentship providers. The Working Group recommends that those proposing the introduction of a part-time route to research degrees should indicate both the general and the subject-specific training arrangements which they envisage. It is further recommended that the possibilities of offering general training courses on an inter-Faculty or inter-Departmental basis be fully explored at the outset. Attendance at prescribed research training programmes should be monitored and certified and satisfactory completion of such programmes should be one of the criteria for continuation and for securing formal registration for a research degree. Faculties and Departments should determine, with as much precision and transparency as is possible, the criteria for exempting students from such programmes, either in part or in full. The Working Group thinks it likely that some Faculties and Departments may require prospective part-time candidates to have previously successfully undertaken an M.Phil. Degree (or its full- or part-time equivalent from another institution) an M.St. Degree or a Certificate of Postgraduate Study, as a prerequisite for admission as a research student.
10.3 In addition to formal training requirements, it will be important to take steps to enable part-time students to interact on a less formal basis with their full-time colleagues and with other researchers, through, for example, participation in Graduate Student seminars, presentation of work in progress, and other forms of interaction, including participation in the informal networks of scholars which are fostered through the collegiate system and other means. It will be essential that those Faculties and Departments offering part-time provision take steps to integrate part-timers as fully as is feasible into their graduate programmes, and that, for their part, the students are clear that a due involvement in these activities is not only desirable but essential. It is recommended that means are found to monitor and record participation in such activities. The Working Group was encouraged by the willingness of those members of Faculties and Departments whom it consulted to consider rearrangement of their Graduate Student provision so as to bring part-time research students together with full-timers, and by their awareness of the need to avoid any isolation of part-time research students from the Faculty's or Department's mainstream provision. The Working Group welcomes the indication that a number of institutions in the social sciences would regard ESRC 'recognition' of their arrangements for part-time students (thereby enabling the students to be considered for part-cost studentships) as fundamental and it notes that the ESRC will wish to see, for 'recognition' purposes, arrangements which make proper and explicit provision for part-timers.
10.4 Whilst acknowledging the use of the new technologies as a means of maintaining contact between student and Supervisor and of delivering distance learning generally, the Working Group regards it as imperative that there be a University-wide minimum for the regularity of formal, personal supervision. Whilst that minimum should be for the Board of Graduate Studies to determine, the Working Group believes that two formal supervisions in Cambridge per term might be thought appropriate, and that a written record of each supervision be kept. This record should be agreed between Supervisor and student. The Working Group believes that as part-time students will necessarily be in less frequent contact with their Supervisors and other academic advisers, it will be particularly important that feedback on progress is provided systematically. Faculties and Departments may wish to have their own minima above the University's requirement. However, the Working Group views it as equally important that each participating Faculty and Department set a maximum figure for the number of formal supervisions per term or per year. Reference is made later in this Report to the need to keep the demands on Supervisors at manageable levels.
In instances where a student's research is in part being carried out in his or her place of work, it is likely to be appropriate to have formal co-supervisory arrangements, of the type already in place for CASE-funded students and the like.
The Working Group recognizes that there are limits to the extent to which the relationship between student and Supervisor can or should be prescribed. However, it believes that for part-time students it is particularly important that, from the outset, both parties have a clear and agreed view of what each may expect from the other, and this should be reflected both in the Board of Graduate Studies' Memoranda to Candidates and to Supervisors and in Faculty and Departmental documentation.
10.5 By analogy with their responsibilities for full-time research students, Supervisors should be required to report annually on their part-time students' progress to the Board of Graduate Studies (and, through the Board, to Degree Committees, Heads of Departments, and Colleges) and at any time when progress is giving cause for concern. The format of the report should be for the Board of Graduate Studies to consider, but it is thought likely that it may need to be more structured than is the case with progress report forms currently issued to Supervisors of full-time students.
10.6 Formal registration decisions for full-time students are normally made by the end of the third or fourth term. It is recommended that registration decisions on part-time candidates be made by the end of their sixth term, and that, as is the case for full-time students, Assessors other than, or in addition to, the Supervisor be involved in registration assessment exercises. These exercises should invariably include an interview with the student. By analogy with the arrangements in place for full-time research students, registration decisions should be based on the student's capabilities, on the suitability of the research project, and on the feasibility of that project being completed within the prescribed period. They should also take into account the student's performance in any relevant research training programme and any other prescribed academic activity.
10.7 It is becoming increasingly common for full-time candidates, once they have been formally registered for a research degree, to be subject to further progress reviews, involving Assessors. The Working Group believes it is important that all part-time students' progress is subject to regular, formal, and documented review and they recommend that this takes place annually. This is desirable both to prevent any loss of momentum in the research, and so that all parties can be satisfied that continuation is appropriate.
10.8 The practice, already followed in certain Faculties, of registering candidates for an M.Sc. or M.Litt. Degree in the first instance, is one which should be employed more widely where part-time students are concerned. Such a practice need not be interpreted as necessarily indicating uncertainty about the student's capabilities for doctoral research, but, rather, should serve (in most cases) as a stepping stone for doctoral registration at a later stage. It could also, however, provide an achievable qualification for students who are unable to continue beyond the minimum period prescribed for a Master's Degree by research. It seems likely that the changing circumstances of some part-time students may cause changes in their aspirations and in their ability to complete a full doctoral programme of research. Experience elsewhere and the advice which the Working Group has received from those in Cambridge with experience of such students suggest that there is much to commend a system of formal 'staging posts', which could serve both to assess the prospects for continuation and to offer, for those whose progress has been satisfactory but who, because of a change in circumstances, are unable to continue, the option of withdrawing with an appropriate formal qualification. This might also assist those who may seek 'credit', based on their Cambridge work, towards another university's requirements. It is recommended that the Board of Graduate Studies and General Board consider how such a system might be developed.
11.1 The responses to the consultation document indicated an almost unanimous view that responsibility for administrative and quality assurance processes should rest firmly with the Board of Graduate Studies and the Degree Committees and that no additional administrative tiers should be introduced. The Working Group concurs fully with this view.
11.2 Accordingly, the Working Group recommends that part-time research students should be registered Graduate Students and subject to the General Regulations for Admission as a Graduate Student and to the Regulations for the Ph.D., M.Sc., and M.Litt. Degrees (amended as necessary to take into account the differing periods required to satisfy course requirements, etc.). The Board of Graduate Studies should, on the recommendation of the Degree Committees concerned, be responsible for admission and formal registration, for maintaining each students' formal University record, for monitoring progress, and for determining the examination result.
11.3 However, it is quite clear that the introduction of a part-time doctorate will have significant administrative resource implications. The evidence obtained from other institutions points to part-time students requiring a greater degree of administrative and other support than the majority of their full-time counterparts. Experience elsewhere also strongly suggests the need for a central point of contact, involving an advisory as well as an administrative function, in part so that Supervisors are not over-burdened with matters of a non-academic nature. Whilst the Tutorial system may be expected to provide in part for this type of support, the Working Group thinks it likely that a central focus for advice and support will also be necessary.
11.4 The Working Group does not believe that the Offices of the various Degree Committees are resourced to undertake for part-time students any more than the considerable number of administrative and other tasks which they presently carry out for full-time students. Indeed, one of the reasons for the recommendation (5.5.4 above) regarding a clear indication in promotional literature of the University's and each participating Faculty and Department's requirements is to attempt to keep manageable the number of enquiries which will inevitably be directed towards Degree Committees and others as and when the possibility of a part-time route to a Cambridge doctorate becomes known.
11.5 The Board of Graduate Studies are, in the Working Group's view, the most obvious and appropriate body to have overall responsibility for all administrative and quality assurance aspects of the University's arrangements for part-time research students. However, the Board and their Office are not at present sufficiently resourced for this role, still less for the additional load which would accrue were the Board's office to act as a central advisory unit for part-time students. It may be that means could be found whereby, were they so willing, the Board of Continuing Education could assist with this latter function without additional tiers of administration being constructed. In any event, it is imperative that if the central bodies agree to promote the introduction of part-time research degrees, they will need to agree in principle that the additional administrative resources will be found. The fact that, at least in the early stages, part-time numbers may be small in relation to the full-time Graduate Student population does not, in the Working Group's view, obviate the need for additional resources.
11.6 Whilst the Board of Graduate Studies and the Degree Committees should be formally responsible for part-time research degrees and the students registered for those degrees, the Working Group believes that the Board of Continuing Education will have a number of important roles to play. That Board's experience of the particular needs and expectations of those engaging in part-time study and of the administration of part-time award-bearing courses is likely to prove an invaluable basis for developing provision for part-time research students. Equally, the means of promoting the opportunities available for doctoral study on a part-time basis will doubtless be developed with an eye to that Board's success in the general promotion of the University's contribution to part-time education.
In addition to these contributions, the Working Group believes that the Board of Continuing Education, not least through the Cambridge Programme for Industry, have potentially significant roles in other areas. They will be well placed to foster initiatives in areas of interdisciplinary research which do not fall clearly within the remit of a single Faculty or Department. Furthermore, that Board's links with industry and the professions will be invaluable in identifying organizations interested in entering into partnerships with the University for training and research at doctoral level. The Board will be well placed to take a pro-active role in the development of arrangements for those who wish to pursue their personal and professional development through research. Such individuals may not have previously been engaged in research, though they may be leading figures in their professions, and are likely to require innovative forms of support.
The introduction of a route to the University's research degrees via part-time study would represent a major academic initiative. The Working Group is persuaded that there is a significant body of opinion within the University and the Colleges very supportive of such an initiative. It would represent a logical development of the University's longstanding extramural commitment at a time when widening access and the Universities' contribution to life-long learning figure high on the political agenda for Education. The Working Group must, however, re-emphasize its view that to embark successfully in this direction will require a firm commitment on the part of the University and of those Faculties, Departments, and Colleges who wish to participate. On no account should part-time research degree arrangements be thought of as a matter of simply fitting the occasional part-time student in some ad hoc way into existing arrangements. In the event that the University approves the introduction of part-time arrangements, the Board of Graduate Studies and the General Board must be satisfied, when considering proposals from Faculty Boards, that they are coherent in both academic and resource terms, and the central bodies should be prepared to address positively the resource implications for the central academic support and administrative services.
|(i)||The majority of respondents to the consultation paper can conceive of Cambridge research degrees being available in a satisfactory part-time mode.||4.1|
|(ii)||A suitable framework for such degrees is capable of being established, provided that|
|(a)||there should be no expectation that every Faculty, Department, and College will wish to be involved;||4.2.2|
|(b)||when considering proposals from Faculty Boards and comparable bodies, the relevant authorities should be satisfied with the academic and resource aspects of the proposal and, in particular, be persuaded that it will not distort full-time Graduate Student provision or other academic activities in the institutions involved;|
|(c)||part-time provision should be consistent with the essential features of the University's arrangements for Graduate Student research.||4.2.3|
|(iii)||The framework proposed is one involving a set of University-wide expectation and requirements which may, in certain aspects, be supplemented by particular requirements determined by individual Faculty Boards and comparable bodies.||4.2.3|
|(iv)||In the event that the central bodies recommend the introduction of part-time research degrees, a detailed cost analysis of the resource implications for central facilities and services should be undertaken.||4.3|
The following recommendations are made in the event that the principle of establishing part-time research degrees is approved.
|(v)||College membership should be compulsory.||5.1.1|
|(vi)||Whilst students need not be concentrated in particular Colleges, there may be merit in participating institutions liaising at an early stage with interested Colleges.||5.1.3|
|(vii)||Those Colleges willing to admit students should indicate explicitly the nature of their provision to enable informed choices of College preferences to be made.||5.1.5|
|(viii)||The title of the doctoral degree obtainable on a part-time basis should be the Ph.D.||5.2|
|(ix)||The M.Sc. and M.Litt. Degrees should be available on a part-time basis. The possible need for the Certificate of Postgraduate Study to be available on the same basis may require consideration.||5.3.1|
|(x)||Initially the numbers admitted should be modest, but there should be no central control of those numbers.||5.5.3|
|(xi)||In addition to the normal academic admissions criteria (which should be the same as are applied to other applicants seeking admission as registered Graduate Students), additional University-wide admission criteria should be implemented.||5.5.4|
|(xii)||There should be no provision for transfer from full- to part-time registration, but there should be provision for transfers in the other direction.||6.2|
|(xiii)||Proposals from Faculty Boards and comparable bodies should demonstrate how part-time research students can be appropriately integrated with the full-time research student population.||6.3|
|(xiv)||The relevant bodies should consider amending the regulations for Studentships and other awards and prizes that are open to full-time Graduate Students so as to make part-time Graduate Students eligible for consideration.||6.4|
|(xv)||The University Composition Fee should be 50 per cent of the fee for which a full-time Graduate Student is liable in the academical year in question.||7.2|
|Fee liability should apply in respect of at least each term required to meet the minimum requirements of the degree sought.||7.4|
|(xvi)||Students should not be subject to a formal residential requirement but they should be subject to an attendance requirement in the University for the purpose of formal instruction and other approved or prescribed academic activity. The Board of Graduate Studies should consider the minimum requirement which should apply across the University. This minimum requirement may be supplemented by requirements set by particular Faculty Boards and comparable bodies.||8.1|
|(xvii)||There should be no formal limit on the permissible distance between a student's normal place of residence and the University, but University and Faculty attendance requirements may indirectly impose such a limit.||8.2|
|(xviii)||Candidates for the Ph.D. Degree must complete a minimum of eighteen terms of research. Candidates for the M.Sc. and M.Litt. Degrees must complete a minimum of twelve terms of research.||9.1|
|(xix)||Provision should exist for exempting students registered for the Ph.D., M.Sc., or M.Litt. Degree from up to six terms of research, on the same criteria as apply to full-time students registered for those degrees. Students who have previously successfully completed the M.Phil. Degree (one-year course), the Certificate of Postgraduate Study, or one of the Diplomas for which registration as a Graduate Student is required may seek to have those counted as equivalent to six terms of part-time candidature for a research degree. Consideration should be given to offering the same provision in respect of candidates who have previously been approved for the M.St. or M.Ed. Degree.||9.2|
|(xx)||Candidates registered for the Ph.D., M.Sc., or M.Litt. Degree should be required to submit their dissertations by not later than the end of the vacation following the term after the term in which the minimum requirements for the Degree are completed, unless permission to defer submission has been granted.||9.3|
|(xxi)||Should permission to defer submission be granted, candidates should normally be expected to submit by no later than twenty-one terms from the term from which registration took effect. The Board of Graduate Studies should consider the criteria to be used to determine whether those unable to submit within this period should be permitted to remain registered and, if withdrawal from the Register of Graduate Students is agreed, the circumstances under which reinstatement may be sought.||9.4|
|(xxii)||The Ph.D. submission rates compiled by the Board of Graduate Studies should clearly distinguish between full- and part-time registrations.||9.5|
|(xxiii)||When proposing provision for courses of part-time research, Faculty Boards and comparable bodies should describe how generic and subject-specific research training is to be delivered. The possibilities of collaboration in research training programmes between institutions should be actively encouraged.||10.2|
|(xxiv)||Attendance at prescribed training programmes should be monitored and certified. Satisfactory performance in such programmes should be one criterion for formal registration for a research degree. The criteria for exemption from any part of such programmes should be clearly defined.||10.2|
|(xxv)||So far as is feasible, part-time students should be integrated into institutions' formal and informal programmes for full-time Graduate Students. Their participation in such programmes should be formally recorded.||10.3|
|(xxvi)||There should be a minimum number of formal supervisions per term in Cambridge. That number should be determined by the Board of Graduate Studies. The Working Group suggests two supervisions per term might be appropriate. Institutions should determine the maximum number of supervisions per term to which a part-time student should be entitled, and should provide for systematic, written feedback on progress.||10.4|
|(xxvii)||Where a student's research is in part being carried out at his or her place of work, co-supervisory arrangements should be encouraged.||10.4|
|(xxviii)||Supervisors should report annually to the Board of Graduate Studies on their students' progress and at any time when progress gives cause for concern. The Board should consider the format of the report form.||10.5|
|(xxix)||Decisions on formal registration for a research degree should normally be made by the end of the student's sixth term, should include an interview with the student, and should involve at least one Assessor other than the Supervisor.||10.6|
|(xxx)||Once a student is formally registered for a research degree, his or her progress should be subject to annual, formal review, again involving at least one Assessor other than the Supervisor.||10.7|
|(xxxi)||The practice of registration for the M.Sc. or M.Litt. Degree in the first instance, with later upgrading, subject to satisfactory progress, to Ph.D. candidature, should be actively encouraged.||10.8|
|(xxxii)||The Board of Graduate Studies and the Degree Committees should exercise the same responsibilities in respect of part-time research degrees as they do for the full-time, residential versions of those degrees.||11.1|
|(xxxiii)||The Office of the Board of Graduate Studies should carry out the same administrative functions as it does for other qualifications requiring admission as a Graduate Student. That Office may also need to serve as a central point of contact for part-time students for advice on matters which are not within the remit of Supervisors or the academic institution concerned.||11.2|
|(xxxiv)||The resource implications for the administration of part-time research degrees should be positively addressed by the central bodies.||11.3-5|
|(xxxv)||The expertise of the Board of Continuing Education should be employed in promoting part-time research degree provision, in advising the Board of Graduate Studies on the needs and expectations of part-time students and on administrative structures, in fostering interdisciplinary research programmes, and in the development of appropriate arrangements for those who wish to pursue personal and professional development through research.||11.6|
1. The central bodies have been asked to consider the possibility of the introduction of a part-time doctoral degree. They have agreed that discussion of this important matter should be widened to consideration of the general issue of the introduction of a part-time doctorate across the University as a whole, rather than in relation to a particular Faculty's or discipline's needs and circumstances. The central bodies are conscious that this is a matter of great significance, involving a wide range of important issues, and they have therefore agreed, as a first step, to circulate this consultation paper to Faculty Boards, Departments and other institutions, and to Colleges, so as to gauge the level of support for the proposal in principle and to seek views on the more important issues connected with it, with a view to working up more detailed proposals if there is evidence of clear support within the University and the Colleges.
2. The central bodies are well aware that when they previously proposed the introduction of part-time Master's Degrees, they indicated that the case for their introduction carried no implications for existing Cambridge degrees and that they viewed these degrees (the M.Ed. and the M.St.) as distinct from other, full-time, postgraduate qualifications (Reporter, 1990-91, p. 721 and 1994-95, p. 47). However, it has been suggested to them that there is likely to be strong support from a number of quarters for the introduction of a third route to a doctoral degree, to supplement the Ph.D. based on a minimum of nine terms of full-time study as a registered Graduate Student and the Ph.D. under the Special Regulations (eligibility for which is restricted to Cambridge graduates of at least six years' standing and to those holding a University office or College Fellowship who have been admitted to the M.A. under Statute B, III, 6 or to a Degree by incorporation).
It has been suggested to the central bodies that the following grounds encourage active consideration of the proposal at this time:
3. As indicated above, the central bodies are aware that the proposal is significantly different from existing part-time postgraduate provision. The M.Ed. and M.St. Degrees are available only on a part-time basis and in specific subjects, with different arrangements (within, so far as the M.St. Degree is concerned, a general, enabling, framework) for courses of study and examinations, according to the subject. Whilst the central bodies will await the outcome of this consultation exercise before giving further, more detailed, consideration to the proposal, they presently take the view that were a part-time doctoral degree to be introduced, it should be a generic degree, the benchmark for which (in terms at least of admissions and examination criteria) should be the full-time, residential Ph.D., and which might be administered within a general regulatory framework akin to that in place for the full-time version.
The following fundamental questions arise:
|(a)||Is the nature of a Cambridge research degree such that it is possible to conceive of it being available in a satisfactory part-time mode?|
|(b)||If the answer to (a) is positive, whether or not with qualifications, then what framework would be necessary so as to preserve the character and standard of research degrees and the benefits arising from offering those degrees in a collegiate environment, whilst also providing sufficient flexibility to meet the needs and circumstances of likely clienteles and of the various disciplines (including those involving experimental and laboratory-based work)?|
|(c)||If a satisfactory framework could be established, is this self-evidently major innovation something which Cambridge would wish to effect, bearing in mind the current financial climate, provision elsewhere in the HE sector, and the existing demands on University and College resources?|
4. If there is general support for establishing a framework within which a part-time doctoral degree could be introduced, then the following appear to be the more important of the particular issues to be addressed:
The consultations which took place concerning the introduction of the M.St. Degree indicated a strong preference for treating part-time postgraduates in the same ways as other students working for Cambridge degrees, including requirements that they be matriculated and become members of a College as conditions of admission. Are there any grounds for treating part-time research students any differently? If there are not, then what particular considerations need to be addressed if such students are to have the opportunity to enjoy the academic and social advantages of a collegiate system? For example, what demands on College facilities might such students make? An obvious way in which part-time research students would differ from those registered for the M.Ed. or the M.St. would be the length of time between admission and completion. Further, the arrangements for the M.St. Degree allow for some regulation of the residential needs of groups of students at prescribed times, in accordance with course arrangements, whereas the times during which part-time research students might need to be based in Cambridge could vary considerably. Would there be organizational (and other) advantages in concentrating such students in particular Colleges which might be better able to provide for them?
Definition of part-time
Should there be formal minimum residential requirements? Or should (as in the cases of the M.Ed. and the M.St. Degrees) the degree be non-residential, but with minimum requirements in terms of attendance and University-based work? Might such requirements vary from subject to subject? (It is possible, for example, to conceive of research subjects which would be predominantly reliant on University and Faculty/Departmental facilities, and of others which, given an appropriate research infrastructure at an individual's place of work, would be less so.) Is there a case for any restriction based on distance from Cambridge?
To what extent should minimum and maximum periods of study be regulated? A full-time Ph.D. candidate is required to pursue his or her research for a minimum of nine terms. Would a doubling of that minimum be appropriate for part-timers? The full-timer is required to submit after ten terms or seek a deferment of that submission: what timetable might be appropriate for a part-timer?
If the benchmark for a part-time doctoral degree is to be the Ph.D., then are there any grounds for any differentiation in title?
Other research degrees
If a part-time doctorate were to be introduced, are there any reasons why part-time versions of the M.Sc. and M.Litt. Degrees should not be introduced to serve the same purposes as the full-time versions (i.e. degrees which may be explicitly sought by candidates and which are also offered, to doctoral candidates whose dissertations do not meet the required standard but do meet the standard for the lower degree)?
Level and type of demand
Experience at other universities suggests that the level of demand for a Cambridge doctorate obtainable through part-time study could be extremely high. Ought there to be mechanisms for controlling numbers and, if so, what form might they take? Would it be appropriate to apply admissions criteria additional to those applied to applications for full-time graduate study? There are, at present, for example, significant numbers of Graduate Student applicants who are offered admission but who are unable to take up their places for want of the funding required for three years of full-time study: ought it to be possible for such applicants to seek a Cambridge doctoral degree on a part-time basis whilst in employment which may or may not be related to their research interests? Or should provision be primarily or exclusively geared to other groups?
It would be particularly helpful if Heads of Department and others could provide evidence of the number of employees and researchers connected with their institutions who have sought a doctorate but who have been unable to register as full-time Graduate Students and who have accordingly registered elsewhere.
Relationship with full-time provision
Might the introduction of a part-time doctorate have implications for the requirements currently in place for full-time graduate work, for example with regard to fees and residential requirements?
Might the option of a part-time route to a doctoral degree have a negative impact on the level of demand for admission to full-time courses of research?
Ought it to be permissible to transfer from full-time to part-time registration (or vice versa)?
If the degree is to be generic, then, presumably, a standard University Composition Fee rate should be set annually. Should that rate be 50 per cent of the rate applicable to full-time doctoral students and should part-timers' liability for fees extend over double the period for which full-timers are generally liable (which would be consistent with the assumption made by HEFCE in their funding method)? Or might alternative arrangements be more appropriate? So far as College fees are concerned, are the criteria applied in setting fee levels for M.St. students equally applicable to part-time research students?
Arrangements for supervision, training, and monitoring progress
At a time when increasing attention is being paid to the quality of research degree education, can the following needs be successfully tackled and, if so, how:
Are there particular considerations to be borne in mind were individuals to pursue subjects of research related to their employment (and, possibly, sponsored by their employers), in terms, for example, of the relationship between an individual's work activities and his or her research, of confidentiality of data and intellectual property rights, etc.? Or are the issues not significantly different from those presently applicable to the work of full-time research students supported by industrial funding?
Responsibility for the University's doctoral and other research degrees rests with the Board of Graduate Studies, working with the Degree Committees. The M.St. Degree, on the other hand, is primarily administered through the Board of Continuing Education (though the Board of Graduate Studies are involved in the areas of course approval and admission and have responsibility for approving candidates for the degree). What would the most appropriate arrangements be (in terms of admission procedures, day to day administration, examination arrangements, approval for degrees, and general oversight) for a part-time doctoral degree? In their preliminary consideration of this question, the central bodies have taken the view that the Board of Graduate Studies should have a central role, particularly with regard to the maintenance of admission and examination standards.
There are doubtless other issues which need to be addressed and the central bodies hope that, through this consultation, they will be identified.
5. The central bodies hope that the general principle of offering a part-time doctoral degree and the many issues associated with it will be widely discussed within the University and the Colleges. Comments on any aspect of this circular will be very welcome and should be sent to the Secretary General of the Faculties by, if at all possible, the division of the Easter Term 1997.
7 February 1997
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Cambridge University Reporter, 2 February 2000
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