Postgraduate completion rates increase substantially with PhD Manager

University of Westminster Graduate School streamlines processes and increases transparency

Challenge

Supporting several hundred postgraduate researchers across five campuses in central London, the University of Westminster Graduate School was keen to improve their student’s experience while reducing the program’s administrative overhead.

The Graduate School was challenged by their workflow environment which consisted of a confusing patchwork of spreadsheets, paper forms, Word documents, and PDFs that regularly resulted in inefficiencies and unreliable, outdated information. Paper and email trails only exacerbated the situation, making processes difficult to track and share, and the constant stream of examinations, thesis submissions and performance monitoring reviews was overwhelming. There was little transparency and much time was wasted responding to emails and calls enquiring about procedure and progress.  

Westminster was looking for a one-stop, comprehensive information management platform that would allow them to streamline their overall workflow process by implementing online forms and centralizing communication. Ultimately, they wanted to improve their researcher, faculty, and staff experience.

“What’s most important to me,” said Professor Simon Joss, Graduate School Director at the University of Westminster, “is ensuring that each postgraduate researcher is receiving effective support [and that they have] the best chance of a timely and successful completion.”

University of Westminster

“What’s most important to me, is ensuring that each postgraduate researcher is receiving effective support [and that they have] the best chance of a timely and successful completion.”

Professor Simon Joss
Graduate School Director at the University of Westminster

Solution

Westminster turned to Cayuse PhD Manager, to enable their vision of a central hub designed to streamline the entire post-graduate program process. With PhD Manager, everyone engaged in postgraduate programs, from students to faculty and administrators, gains real-time access to forms, data, schedules, and reports—whenever and wherever they need it. 

Increased visibility to key information

Supervisors can see the current progress of their postgraduate researchers, including important details such as start dates and submission deadlines. They can review the number of supervision meetings held, read notes of what was discussed and see agreed upon action points.

Better management of forms and files

PhD Manager uses online forms to streamline completion and submission across all processes. Existing forms can be customized and templates are easily created for users from different departments. PhD Manager guides users to enter exactly the information required, leading to improved quality of applications overall. Also, documents of any format and size – including whole theses – can be attached to PhD Manager’s online forms. 

Improved quality in training and development

PhD Manager’s training-needs analysis tool prompts postgraduate researchers to reflect on their current and desired level of expertise against a series of key skills. Students can update and share training plans with supervisors and then indicate when training objectives have been completed.

Expansive reporting

PhD Manager produces reports at postgraduate researcher, supervisor, department and university levels across a wide range of information including: status reports, training and development event attendance, researcher funding reports, Visa and right to work status.

As soon as Westminster made the decision to implement PhD Manager, Haplo, a division of Cayuse, began working to understand the Graduate School’s unique processes, terminology, workflows, and forms to ensure that the end result was tailored to meet Westminster’s specific needs.

Results

Within a year of implementation, the Graduate School experienced a positive impact. Thanks to PhD Manager’s comprehensive functionality, configurable architecture, and intuitive user experience, Westminster quickly realized a number of specific results:

Increased student success

Postgraduate researchers using the system immediately experienced the benefits of the single-source, information hub. “Our completion rates have risen significantly over the past year,” said Professor Joss, “and PhD Manager has played a key part in enabling that success.” 

Streamlined processes

PhD Manager’s online forms and workflows mean that  postgraduate researchers and supervisors no longer have to navigate the complex network of email communications, offline forms, and unclear convoluted processes.

Increased transparency and improved communication flow

Graduate School administrators are no longer the sole keepers of critical information, eliminating the need for them to spend time responding to requests for clarifications and updates.

Everyone from administrators and office staff, to faculty and postgraduate researchers has instant access to key documents, examination dates, meeting notes, and progress indicators. The Graduate School is now better positioned to effectively administer their extensive training and development program.

Westminster Graduate School is excited about the many ways that PhD Manager provides a more professional service to their researchers, faculty, and staff. By significantly reducing their administrative burden, PhD Manager has enabled postgraduate students and their supervisors to spend more time on what matters most—progressing their research.

“Our completion rates have risen significantly over the past year, and PhD Manager has played a key part in enabling that success.”

Professor Simon Joss
Graduate School Director at the University of Westminster

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