Birmingham City University is proud to partner with the University of Wolverhampton to deliver That’s Me! Eliminating barriers to post graduate research study in the West Midlands, a highly prestigious project funded by the UKRI and Office of Students as part of a nationwide programme to Widen participation in postgraduate research – UKRI.
Our project approach aims to explore evidence-bases that relate to the Postgraduate Researcher (PGR) experience, from recruitment to award, with a specific focus on the experiences of members of our community who identify as Global Majority. BCU has organised its work into three action research teams that relate to key junctures of the PGR journey, namely Routes In to study, Routes Through study and Routes Out of study. Taking an intersectional approach, we want to investigate these areas across our PGR community using a variety of research methods. From this, we aim to develop impactful interventions that holistically improve our culture and community for everyone, and, in particular, our Global Majority community.
BCU has created three action research teams, comprising academics, professional services staff and PGRs from a range of disciplines and backgrounds to design and deliver impactful outcomes through genuine co-production. All teams have representation from Global Majority members of our community, and we have established a Global Majority Project Steering Committee, made up of Global Majority academics and leaders and chaired by Vice Chancellor, Professor David Mba, to guide project progress.
Applying an intersectional lens, the team will explore pathways into and barriers to accessing postgraduate research study through engaging with a range of stakeholders, including Birmingham City University PGRs, university staff, regional employers, and wider communities. They will make recommendations for improving pathways, reducing barriers, and fostering inclusivity, especially in the context of postgraduate research application and induction processes, and investigate pre-research degree models, which aim to bridge the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes and Postgraduate research study, with a view to making recommendations for a best practice model.
The team will explore and define best practices about key aspects of the PGR experience. These include supervision dynamics, styles and practices; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training and policy; the provision of ‘safe’ and ‘home-from-home’ spaces for PGRs; and the design and use of peer-to-peer networks, which see PGRs interact with each other direct to share knowledge, skills and experience, and reverse mentoring programs that involve PGRs mentoring experienced Highter Education staff to share insights and guidance to promote learning, knowledge exchange and growth.
The team will engage with and broaden the That’s Me! regional employer board to foster connections, including career opportunities, between regional employers and PGRs, across a range of industries and sectors. They will investigate the workforce needs of the region, the extent of existing regional employer involvement with and understanding of postgraduate research(ers), and strategies for engaging employers as coaches, allies, and mentors. This will be done with a view to collaboratively developing an inclusive workforce strategy, including recruitment practices, for the region that values and harnesses its postgraduate research portfolio and widens routes out opportunities for postgraduate researchers.