COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND VETERINARY MEDICINE
COLLEGE POSTGRADUATE STUDIES COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 28 APRIL 2008
OPEN COMMITTEE BUSINESS
Present Professor S G Hillier Convenor of CPGSC
Dr J P Bradshaw Head of the Graduate School
Professor A A Calder QA Director
Dr B M Dutia R(D)SVS School Representative
Dr A Hall BMS School Representative
Professor C Gregory CSCH School Representative
Prof S E M Howie MCM School Representative
Dr Catherine Roberts Secretary to CPGSC
Dr Dorothy Watson Senior Postgraduate Administrator
Ms Claire Smith Postgraduate Secretary
Ms Ruth Stewart For items 1 and 8 only
Dr Veena O’Halloran For item 1 only
Mr Saladin Rospigliosi For item 1 only
Apologies There were no apologies.
1. EUCLID: AN UPDATE ON PROGRESS
The Convenor welcomed Dr Veena O’Halloran, Director of the EUCLID project, and Mr Saladin
Rospigliosi, a Functional Expert on the EUCLID project, to the meeting and thanked them for
attending to update the Committee on progress with the EUCLID project. They were supported by
Ms Ruth Stewart, as a member of the EUCLID Project Board.
Dr O’Halloran gave a short presentation, which was followed by questions and discussion. The
presentation provided a reconfirmation of the EUCLID vision and key benefits, an update on the
Postgraduate Admissions deliverables, timings and core roles, and an overview of the impact on
academics, other staff and applicants. It was explained that Postgraduate Admissions was the
current priority and that this aspect of the project was due to go live on 6 October 2008. A round of
business process briefings was being undertaken and arrangements for training were being made. It
was stressed that the Committee could help the EUCLID project by advising on how best to engage
with academics, sharing the message with colleagues and being actively supportive, and giving input
to the EUCLID team on what was needed going forward.
The Committee advised that it would be very helpful for a more detailed presentation, including flow
diagrams and examples, to be given at School level. This presentation should emphasise how the
new business processes and supporting software would be an improvement for academics.
Action: School level presentation to be arranged through Schools
During the questioning that arose, it was clarified that there would be online training for academics
and a local expert contact (such as the Postgraduate Administrative Officer in the College
Postgraduate Office) for academic users to approach for support; there was a process within the
system for dealing with interviews; and there was a reporting function that would allow for reports to
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The Committee was informed that a staff newsletter about the EUCLID project would be circulated
shortly and that feedback from members would be welcomed by the EUCLID team.
The Convenor reiterated the Committee’s enthusiasm and support for the EUCLID project and its
gratitude to the EUCLID representatives for taking the time to engage with the College in this way.
2. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING – 11 MARCH 2008 07/PG/83
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as an accurate record.
3. MATTERS ARISING (not covered elsewhere)
3.1 Marketing Meeting (minute 3.4 refers)
At the previous meeting, the Committee had agreed that it would be helpful to convene a
meeting between the College Postgraduate Marketing Officer and all Programme Directors
to review current marketing activity and to determine whether there were additional
immediate actions that might be taken towards maximising student recruitment for 2008-09.
The Convenor informed members that the College Postgraduate Marketing Officer would be
attending the meeting of Programme Directors scheduled for 30 April 2008. She would be
engaging with Programme Directors in an effort to reinvigorate marketing activities and to
encourage them to play a proactive part in these.
4. REPORTS FROM SCHOOLS
4.1 School of Biomedical Sciences
The BMS School Representative reported orally that:
a post-doc society had been set up in the School;
the issue of problems with the WebCT service that he had raised at the previous
meeting had been taken forward; and
a number of errors had been noticed in the original BBSRC application. This
highlighted the difficulty that existed in getting data on grants held in Schools and
In relation to the first bullet point above, it was acknowledged that there was the critical
mass for more than one post-doc society in the College, but that it would be important for
there to be plenty of interaction between the post-doc society in the School and the one in
In relation to the second bullet point above, the Head of the Graduate School elaborated that
he had met with Marshall Dozier (Information Services Academic Liaison Director for
CMVM) and Nora Mogey (Information Services E-Learning Manager) to address the
problems with WebCT delivery that had been highlighted in the paper tabled at the previous
CPGSC meeting. [A note of the WebCT meeting, which was held on 7 April 2008, was
appended to the Graduate School report considered at item 4.5 below.] There remained an
issue with out-of-hours support that would require a change to current working practices and
contracts of employment.
The Committee agreed that a strong message should be sent that this matter needed to be
resolved. The way in which the University educated students was changing, and the services
supporting this would have to change in line with it. The Convenor would draft a letter to
Professor David Dewhurst (Director of Educational Information Services), as the person at
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the front end of the College’s aspirations for online distance learning, flagging up the
Action: Convenor to write to Professor David Dewhurst on behalf of the Committee
In relation to the third bullet point above, it was noted that Paul McGuire (Research
Administrator) had produced a paper about acquiring data for the recent Research
Assessment Exercise (RAE) that highlighted this very difficulty.
4.2 School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
The MCM School Representative informed members that the School Postgraduate Studies
Committee would be meeting next month.
4.3 School of Clinical Sciences and Community Health
The CSCH School Representative tabled a report of the School Postgraduate Studies
Committee meeting that had taken place on 18 March 2008. A new Secretary to the
Committee, who would also co-ordinate all postgraduate administrative activity in the
School, had been appointed. The Committee had also been joined by its new postgraduate
The Committee had welcomed the paper specifying School and College postgraduate
operations (Paper 07/PG/81) but sought clarification about who should be responsible for
signing off progress reports. The Chair and the School Administrator would be meeting
with the Head of School to discuss this.
CPGSC members made the point that it was probably ideal for one person in a School to
have oversight of all reports, but that logistics might mean that this was not possible
Action: The Convenor requested that each School provide a clear statement for
CPGSC on how the signing off process would be handled and the mechanism in place
in the School.
The CSCH School Representative also highlighted that the School would be taking a more
proactive approach to ensuring that staff attended supervisor briefing sessions.
4.4 Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
The R(D)SVS School Representative tabled the note of the School Postgraduate Studies
Committee meeting held on 16 April 2008. It was noted that the Committee had been very
positive about the postgraduate operations paper (Paper 07/PG/81).
The R(D)SVS School Representative sought advice from CPGSC about the maximum
number of students that a supervisor should have. The following key points were made
during the resulting discussion:
The subject area and the research environment were crucial. Different subject areas
and different research environments gave rise to different levels of potential for the
number of students that a supervisor could appropriately supervise.
The number of students that a supervisor could take on was also very dependent on
the support mechanisms in place. It some situations it might be necessary and
appropriate for one “figurehead” Principal Supervisor to have many students, with
Assistant Supervisor(s) providing day-to-day support to those students.
For these reasons, the Convenor expressed reluctance for CPGSC to be prescriptive about
numbers. It was, however, agreed that it would be helpful for Schools to have written
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guidance on this issue. It was suggested that a sensible approach might be to indicate the
number of hours of supervision that a student could expect to receive per week, and to
allocate a percentage of this time to be contributed by each member of the supervisory team,
in order that the team as a whole would meet the number of hours of supervision required.
The total amount of time that any one supervisor would be spending on supervision each
week could also then be calculated.
It was also suggested that it might be a good idea for a School to look at whether a
supervisor’s students were completing on time when trying to determine whether that
supervisor had reached his or her maximum supervisory capacity.
A further suggestion was that the guidelines might be extended to include guidance to Heads
of School on action to be taken when a supervisor repeatedly had students failing.
Action: Guidelines to be developed to help Schools to make decisions about the number
of students that it would be appropriate for supervisors to have
4.5 Graduate School 07/GRAD/V
The Head of the Graduate School tabled a written report for the Committee. This included
information about a Biotechnology Grad School residential event planned for a weekend in
June 2008, but this was not for open circulation as detail was subject to change. The Head
of the Graduate School sought input from members on whether the anticipated uptake of 50
students seemed realistic.
Action: Members to read the draft flier in detail and feed back comments. A prompt
response was required as the event would need to be advertised in the next few days.
The Graduate School report also highlighted that there seemed to be a growing number of
students having difficulties arising, directly or indirectly, from cultural differences. The
Committee supported the proposal that a small working party be set up to look at this and to
make recommendations to CPGSC on the provision of additional support for international
postgraduate students. The Committee strongly encouraged the involvement of international
students and staff in this working party. It was noted that account should be taken of the fact
that the College Equality and Diversity Committee was also taking this issue forward.
5. RECRUITMENT AND ADMISSIONS
5.1 Recruitment for 2008-09 07/PG/84
The Senior Postgraduate Administrator had provided a paper showing recruitment targets,
applications received and offers made at 17 April 2008. The position was similar to what it
had been the previous year.
The Convenor stressed that every opportunity should be taken to advertise the College’s
programmes as appropriate and that this would include advertising the Masters programmes
in the May edition of the New Scientist Graduate Careers Special.
5.2 Growing CMVM postgraduate income 07/PG/91
This paper reported on meetings between the Director of Postgraduate and International
Relations, the Head of the Graduate School, the Senior Postgraduate Administrator, and
Heads of School and/or representatives, which had been arranged to review each School’s
portfolio of postgraduate taught (PGT) and postgraduate research (PGR) programmes and to
scope potential areas for expansion and consolidation. Having identified areas of
opportunity for new programmes, the Schools and College would be working hard to
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6. SENATUS POSTGRADUATE STUDIES COMMITTEE (SPGSC) BUSINESS
6.1 New programmes approved for 2008-09
The Secretary updated members that, at its meeting on 20 March 2008, SPGSC had
approved the following new programmes:
MSc/Dip in Equine Science (by online distance learning)
Cert/Dip/MSc in Emerging and Neglected Infectious Diseases (by online distance
Integrated BVM&S / PhD programme
This meant that, along with the Cert/Dip/MSc in Health Informatics and the Cert/Dip/MSc
in Health Information Governance (approved by SPGSC in November 2007), the College
had five brand new postgraduate programmes running from 2008-09.
SPGSC had also approved:
the addition of a Masters level to the current Forensic Medicine and Science
the addition of Diploma and Masters levels to the current Translational Medicine
Concern was expressed that new programme fees had to be approved by the Fees Strategy
Group, which this year would not be meeting until May 2008. Therefore programmes were
being advertised and applicants expected to accept places on these programmes before the
fees had been confirmed. This problem would be taken up with the relevant people at
College and University level.
Action: Secretary to raise concerns about the delay in approving new programme fees
6.2 Extenuating Circumstances 07/PG/85
SPGSC had considered this paper from the College of Science and Engineering at its
meeting on 20 March 2008. The paper proposed a procedure for handling instances of
extenuating circumstances that could have a wholly disproportionate effect on a student’s
academic career. SPGSC had asked for feedback from the other two Colleges on the
proposal. The College of Humanities and Social Science had indicated that the new
procedure was unnecessary as such circumstances could be handled under the existing
“Special Circumstances” provision.
The Convenor and Secretary, as the CMVM representatives, had fed back that, as the
University already had a means for dealing with special circumstances that could be
stretched to cover extenuating circumstances, we did not support the introduction of the new
procedure. However, considering that clarity should be added to the regulations where
possible, we recommended that the current regulations be modified so that they more clearly
covered the scenarios highlighted by the College of Science and Engineering.
CPGSC supported this approach to avoid further complicating the assessment process with
an additional procedure.
7. MASTERS ADMINISTRATION
7.1 Masters Administration: an overview 07/PG/86
The Committee noted the content of this standing paper, giving an overview of the items it
had approved and those it had not yet seen.
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7.2 External Examiner’s reports
There were no External Examiner’s reports for this meeting to consider.
7.3 Nomination of External Examiners
7.3.1 MSc/Dip/Cert in Medical Education
The Committee approved a one-year extension to Professor William Shannon’s
appointment as External Examiner for this programme. As Professor Shannon’s
original appointment had been from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2007, this
extension would cover the period from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008, which
would see the programme through to its end.
7.3.2 Cert/Dip/MSc in Surgical Sciences 07/PG/93
The Committee approved the appointment of Professor Samuel John Leinster, from
the University of East Anglia, as External Examiner for this programme.
7.4 Boards of Examiners for Session 2007-08
The Committee approved the following Boards of Examiners for Session 2007-08 as
7.4.1 MSc/Dip/Cert in Medical Education 07/PG/87a
7.4.2 MSc/Dip by Research in Reproductive Biology 07/PG/87b
7.4.3 Cert/Dip/MSc in Surgical Sciences 07/PG/87c
7.5 New Programmes for 2009-10
There were no proposed new programmes for this meeting to consider.
7.6 Changes to Current Programmes
There were no proposed changes to current programmes for this meeting to consider.
8. PROPOSAL TO ASSESS RCVS COURSES AT R(D)SVS 07/PG/88
CPGSC had considered an initial proposal to assess Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)
courses at R(D)SVS at its meeting on 26 November 2007. Whilst keen to see the collaboration
between R(D)SVS and RCVS develop, the Committee had expressed a number of concerns
regarding the initial proposal for accreditation.
Ruth Stewart (Assistant Secretary), who had been working with the School to address these concerns
and to develop the proposal, attended the meeting to speak to the current paper and to outline the
background to the revised proposal. She explained that the proposal could not be considered under
the University’s normal postgraduate regulations, but that Vice-Principal Professor Simon van
Heyningen and colleagues in the University’s Academic Affairs section were supportive of the
University being accredited in the way proposed. The arrangement would be one of CPD, under the
Office of Lifelong Learning. The students being assessed would be CPD students, not matriculated
University of Edinburgh students. The regulations and systems of appeal and complaint introduced
would be in agreement with the University’s regulations and systems of appeal and complaint. This
would be in line with the methodology adopted by other institutions that had been accredited to
access RCVS courses. The R(D)SVS School Representative added that the School was fully
supportive of the revised proposal.
Reassured that the concerns and issues it had raised had been addressed, CPGSC was now happy to
add its support to the proposal for CPD accreditation. The next step would be for the School to
submit its proposal for accreditation to RCVS and for this to go to the University’s Senatus
Postgraduate Studies Committee.
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9. NOMINATION OF EXTERNAL EXAMINERS FOR RESEARCH STUDENTS 07/PG/89
This issue was being brought to the attention of CPGSC at the request of the supervisor who had
written the email that formed Paper 07/PG/89. The R(D)SVS School Representative had confirmed
for the supervisor concerned that two external examiners would indeed be required for his student
because this student was a member of staff of the University, albeit on a short-term contract. This
was one of several similar discussions that had taken place recently with supervisors who were
expressing resistance to the strict application of this regulation.
CPGSC reasserted its requirement that this regulation be applied and gave its support to the School
Representatives and College Postgraduate Office to ensure that this happened.
10. QQR IN SCHOOL OF BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES: REVIEW PANEL 07/PG/90
The Committee endorsed the Review Panel for the QQR in the School of Biomedical Sciences as
proposed in Paper 07/PG/90. The Head of the Graduate School would not now be convening the
Review Panel as originally proposed because he was to be an external for the upcoming Internal
Teaching Review of the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and this would
have meant reciprocal panel membership.
11. CMVM RESPONSE TO VLE SERVICES REVIEW 07/PG/92
CPGSC was provided with this paper for information. It was the response that had been submitted
by the College’s E-Learning Business Development Manager, on behalf of the online distance
learning postgraduate programmes in CMVM, to the University-wide review of future needs with
respect to Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) services.
12. ANY OTHER OPEN BUSINESS
12.1 Student Representative
The Convenor flagged up the fact that a new student representative had yet to be found for
the Committee. The Secretary would contact EUSA about this again.
13. NEXT MEETING
The Committee noted that its next meeting would be held on Monday 9 June 2008 at 9.15am in the
Board Room, Chancellor’s Building at Little France.
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