Graduate Supervision Reporting (GSR)

In 2018 the Graduate Supervision System (GSS) will be replaced. This replacement is required because the vendor is withdrawing support for the underlying platform. This provides an opportunity to improve our systems in this area, and incorporate the improvements to graduate student reporting endorsed by the Education Committee in Trinity term 2016 (listed below). The new system will be built in eVision.

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The project is advancing to the development and implementation phase, and the IT Committee has been asked to approve the project scope and funding request. Assuming the project is approved by the IT Committee, development will start in September 2017. 

Key aims for this project are:

  • Replacement of GSS with a new Graduate Supervision Reporting module in eVision (GSR).
  • Implementation of process changes intended to improve reporting participation and quality. 
  • Technical improvements to eliminate downtime and data problems associated with GSS.

The Training Needs Analysis forms will be made available within GSR. The Project Board also agreed that integration with the smart phone application Inkpath, which was originally in the scope, should not be included at this stage as it is due to be piloted by various departments during the 2017/18 academic year.

The project will continue to draw on the expertise and input from a Project Board and User Group, to identify the detailed requirements for the new system. The User Group is made up of representatives from across the University, from divisions and colleges with a range of GSS user roles. 

GSR will incorporate the following improvements to graduate student reporting endorsed by the Education Committee in Trinity term 2016, which affect the way the system operates:

  • More nuanced flagging of concerns about academic progress (minor/major/severe) should be introduced.
  • College Advisors will be able to confirm they have met with their students, and improved email notification functionality should be provided for colleges. (Students will be able to confirm they have met with their College Advisor.)
  • Other academic colleagues with oversight of PGT students (e.g. Course Director) should be permitted to submit a report instead of the supervisor (also Thesis supervisor or Tutor where appropriate).
  • The student, supervisor and DGS should be able to add later comments to a report, where concerns have been raised.
  • A fourth reporting window in September should be introduced which will be optional at the PGT course level (configurable by departments), but mandatory for PGR courses.
  • The student reporting window will be delayed by one week to 7th week but extended to three weeks. The supervisor reporting window will open one week later in 10th week and be shortened to four weeks. 
  • Allow departments (optionally) to configure reporting windows at course level, as long as termly reporting as set out in policy is maintained.

Recommendations by Education IT Committee that relate to guidance and off-system activity:

  • Departments should provide more information to students about the purpose of, and mechanism for, progression reporting in handbooks and induction sessions.
  • The appropriate channels outside of GSS for complaints about the supervisor relationship and other matters not related to academic progress should be clarified to students.
  • Students should be reminded about the expectations for student progress and termly reporting during the transfer and confirmation of status processes.
  • PGT reports should include information on the formative and summative assessment where appropriate (Additional guidance should be given to supervisors about what they can and should include in their reports, additional questions are not required).
  • The Director of Graduate Studies should be required to hold a meeting (either face-to-face or by Skype or similar means) with the student and supervisor as a matter of urgency when a severe concern is flagged.

The project will provide the following high level benefits:

  • Increase coverage of reporting on skills training by student and supervisors.
  • Improvements to quality and ease with which reports are prepared for external funding bodies.
  • Reduce risk of critical failure, downtime and time spent resolving issues and problems.
  • Improvements to the way the system is managed and administrated.
  • Improvements to management reporting.
  • Access for students to GSR through the Student Self Service.
  • Improvements for users with disabilities including compliance with accessibility guidelines.
  • Reduction in cost/time necessary to integrate with current/future systems.

The Project Board meets on a regular basis to review progress of the Graduate Supervision Reporting project and has ultimate responsibility for overseeing direction and governance of the project. 

We have established a User Group to provide advice, support and assurance to the project, and to represent end-users to ensure Oxford’s needs are met satisfactorily. The group, comprising of a range of GSS user roles, will actively contribute to the design of the new system, and is chaired by Andy Garlick (Assistant Registrar - Education, Social Sciences Divisional Office).

For membership of the Project Board and User Group, please refer to the Graduate Supervision Reporting governance web page.

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