Humanities training should be tailormade

January 21, 2000

The Arts and Humanities Research Board should refrain from setting up a fixed research training programme for postgraduate students similar to those run by the research councils.

That is the recommendation of the United Kingdom Council for Graduate Education's report on research training for humanities postgraduate students, written by a working group led by Geoffrey Crossick, pro vice-chancellor of the University of Essex.

"The AHRB should not specify precise requirements that must be met before an award can be made to a student... as to the subject matter and the nature of the training that must be provided. Such requirements would be inimical to our whole approach," said the report.

In particular, the research board should not ask students to complete specific masters degrees before becoming eligible for PhD funding, it recommended.

Instead, training should be tailored to each student and embedded in the character of humanities research. Training needs should be assessed on an individual basis and linked to the student's research interests.

The AHRB should set up research training support grants, the report recommended. These could be used to hold institutions to better account for the ways in which they train students.

A pilot scheme to provide short residential courses that seek to develop students' transferable employment skills and provide careers advice should be funded.

The research board should also consider earmarking funding for regional workshops and conferences where students could present and discuss their work.

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