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Initiatives and resources supporting the objectives of UCL's Education Strategy 2016-21

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Revitalising our postgraduate taught provision: objective five of the Education Strategy

To review and strengthen our postgraduate taught (PGT) provision in response to our changing demographics.

In recent years UCL has become a predominantly postgraduate institution, and this has prompted us to conduct an in-depth review of our PGT provision.

We need to ensure that we are operating sustainably and efficientlyand developing a culture that can accommodate the differing needs of the undergraduate (UG) and PGT communities. 

Our postgraduate Master’s students are the least satisfied of our students. They are only on campus for a short period of time, so building cohort identity and engaging students in the life of the university are particular challenges.

In 2016-17, we reviewed the sustainability of our postgraduate portfolio, and considered issues of quality, including our students’ perceptions of their programmes and our support for them. We also looked in some detail at our approach to marketing PGT programmes.

This review highlighted four key areas:

  1. The diversity of provision at UCL, and the need to accommodate our substantial professional practice programmes within the developing Connected Curriculum narrative.
  2. The need to review principles relating to the viability of programmes and modules in the more specialist areas of PGT provision.
  3. We need to build marketing and business planning capacity to ensure we continue to attract the very highest calibre students in existing and emerging disciplines.
  4. We identified a clear and consistent demand from the student body for more substantial investment in PGT-specific support services, and, in particular, to facilitate a greater sense of identify amongst this group. 

Our strategic objectives for PGT provision are therefore determined by the outcomes of that review.

Our priorities for objective five

To support meeting these objectives, Nora Colton was appointed Pro-Vice-Provost for Postgraduate Education (September 2019)

Over 6,300 UCL postgraduates took part in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) in 2019, giving UCL an overall response rate of 42%, up from 40% last year. This is also significantly higher than the sector average of 31.5%, giving UCL a strong sample size.

Launch of UCL MBA marks acceleration of online learning (June 2019)

1. Use data from the PGT review effectively

To establish a framework for responding to the findings of our recent PGT review.

  • Update to follow.

2. Develop a new planning and costing framework for PGT

To develop and implement a new planning and costing framework for PGT provision with modules as the unit of viability.

We will have put in place the planning structures that facilitate targeted investment in those PGT programmes which have the capacity to attract and retain the very best students by 2021.

We will have taken steps to ensure that our regulations and institutional structures can accommodate the kinds of interdisciplinary study that make our PGT provision particularly attractive to high-quality students and teaching staff.

We will have embedded an institutional culture that reflects and responds to the distinctive needs of PGT students. We will be working consistently with students and their UCLU representatives to provide an outstanding PGT experience, comparable with, but distinctive from, that of our undergraduates.

  • PGT Programme Business Cases: A discussion paper is currently in development looking at predicted student numbers and actual numbers. It is also looking at the wide range of costing tools and methodologies in use across UCL. PGT Module Framework: A second discussion paper is also in development, looking at UCL’s number of PGT programmes, modules, and students compared with the wider sector. Improved module data (as a result of the Academic Model Project) is also being used to understand UCL’s PGT module portfolio. (March 2018)

3. Review the market research that supports PGT provision

To review UCL’s approach to market research in support of PGT provision.

  • Update to follow.

4. Provide tailored academic support for PGT students

To pilot a new personal tutoring model which supports the specific needs of PGT students.

We will have reviewed and improved the support we provide for master’s students, including our approach to induction, personal tutoring, careers support and academic literacies by 2021.

  • The UCL Tutoring pilot will aim to support postgraduate taught students, as well as undergraduate students, despite their different needs and concerns. (October 2019)

5. Have a more inclusive framework

To develop a framework for identifying and supporting PGT students from widening participation backgrounds.

  • Update to follow.

6. Review our marketing of PGT

To review our top-level messaging about PGT study at UCL to ensure that we emphasise our strengths in professional and applied disciplines. 

  • Update to follow.