6.3 Enhanced academic support

6.3.1 Introduction

Where there are concerns that are affecting a research student’s academic progress, enhanced academic support within the school will be provided. Such support should be tailored to the individual and take into account any extenuating circumstances the student is experiencing. It may be appropriate to consider options such as suspension or part-time working. 

If progress is still not satisfactory at the end of the period of enhanced academic support, the unsatisfactory academic progress procedure set out in Annex 3 will be initiated. Schools must ensure that students are made aware of this potential outcome when they enter into a period of enhanced academic support.

Written records must be kept of all informal and formal meetings at which a student’s academic progress is considered and will be copied to all participants and filed securely in the school. Students will be invited to sign off action plans to indicate that they have seen and understood the plans. Where feasible, students should be informed of progress decisions in person, but if this is not possible it should be via their University email address. Failure by the student to agree records, to acknowledge progress decisions or to sign off an action plan will not delay the enhanced academic support process. 

Unless the context indicates otherwise, references within this procedure to an office holder shall refer to that office holder or to a nominee. References to the supervisor shall be taken to mean the student’s main supervisor or supervisory team, as appropriate. Where the student’s main supervisor is the School PGR Director or Faculty PGR Director, a nominee will be appointed.

 6.3.2 The enhanced academic support process

A supervisor, a reviewer, a PGR Programme Director or the School PGR Director (or, exceptionally, another academic) may raise concerns about the academic progress of a research student at any stage in the programme of study. (If there is any disagreement between the supervisor and others about these concerns, the matter should be referred to the School PGR Director or, exceptionally, to the Head of School for a decision.) As soon as the concern is confirmed, the supervisor must immediately make the student aware of the situation and notify the student and the School PGR Director in writing that enhanced academic support has commenced. The student should be invited to say if there are any extenuating circumstances. 

The supervisor and research student will meet as soon as possible to draw up a plan of activities (“Plan 1”) to be completed within the following three months (or six months for a part-time student). Plan 1 will include the activities and expected outputs, the likely frequency and duration of supervisory meetings, any other support that will be made available, and finally how progress will be assessed at the end of the period of enhanced academic support. The supervisor will then provide the student and the School PGR Director with a copy of Plan 1. 

If at the end of the period specified in Plan 1, the supervisor and the School PGR Director agree that progress is now satisfactory, the supervisor will confirm this in writing to the student and the school and this procedure will immediately come to an end. 

If at the end of the period specified in Plan 1, the supervisor and the School PGR Director agree that progress is still not satisfactory, the supervisor will notify the student and the Faculty PGR Director in writing, copied to the School PGR Director. This will initiate the unsatisfactory academic progress procedure set out in Annex 3

If the supervisor and the School PGR Director are unable to agree on whether or not progress is satisfactory, they must refer the case to the Head of School for a decision. 

The enhanced academic support process is summarised in the flowchart in Section 6.3.3. 

6.3.3 Flowchart of the enhanced academic support process.