Good-practice guidelines for institutions running research degree programmes should be established as the minimum standard required by quality watchdogs, the National Postgraduate Committee has recommended.
A draft response to the joint funding councils' consultation on improving standards in research degrees is due to be approved at the NPC's annual conference in Worcester this week.
The draft response says codes of practice for research degrees published by institutions often seem confusing and bureaucratic. They need to be clarified so that students and supervisors understand them. "Without such standards, the code of practice largely stands dormant," it says.
The response paper calls for institutions to have confidential and impartial feedback mechanisms for students experiencing problems with supervisors.
It also calls for greater transparency in the treatment of viva examinations. It says examiners should be required to produce a comprehensive report explaining their recommendations about the award of a doctorate.