The results of the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) in 2013 showed that support for professional development was the single largest area of dissatisfaction for our postgraduate research students.
In response to this feedback, Warwick developed a Professional Development Framework designed to provide a standard to be used across all departments to support postgraduates with their development.
However, the introduction of the Framework alone did not solve the problem. There were still issues with training courses for postgraduate researchers being offered by a variety of providers, such as individual departments, the Library or Careers & Skills, in a variety of places, and all with their own systems for booking, which provided a confusing offering for students. There was also no formal mechanism for students to record the work that they had done towards their professional development, making it difficult for students to keep track of what they had done and achieved.
Warwick needed a technical solution which would:
- provide a better experience for students when booking courses;
- support students and their supervisors to engage with the Framework;
- allow the University to monitor the engagement with and effectiveness of the Framework.
An extensive review of potential options was undertaken and it was decided that SkillsForge was the best solution. It would:
- provide a single platform for PGR training provision;
- ensure that all doctoral students had equal access to a range of professional development opportunities;
- provide flexibility for students to record their activities;
- ideally allow students to more easily engage with the Professional Development Framework and as a result have a better experience of professional development at Warwick.
SkillsForge was launched for the 17/18 academic year. Nine months since launch:
- 1,327 users have logged into SkillsForge
- 239 courses are available, from 12 providers
- Every department has PGR user engagement
You can find the courses and just book them, and they’re just in one place...”
SkillsForge has provided PGR students with a single place to manage their professional development at all stages. They can analyse which skills they need to work on, find appropriate courses, and record both internal and external professional development. Find out more.
Since its launch in September 2017, PGRs and staff have been asked for their feedback on using SkillsForge. A number of developments have been undertaken to respond to this, such as:
- the automatic logging of signposted events;
- the ability to cancel events in the system, rather than having to search through booking confirmation emails;
- filters on courses to indicate which stage of a PhD they are aimed at;
- splitting the activity log so that students can easily see which activities they have completed or where they are on a waiting list.
These developments are essential to providing a good user experience and encouraging students and staff to continue to use the system.
This really is what I needed...”
The team is continuing to engage with students and staff on what should be developed next. If you'd like to find out more about the planned developments or provide any feedback, please visit their website.