University of Northampton Gateway
Gateway is our online postgraduate research (PGR) management system. The objectives of the system are to:
- Provide a shared, web-based record system for PGR students, their supervisors, school research leaders and the Graduate School;
- Provide electronic records of supervision meetings;
- Replace paper forms and signatures with electronic workflows and sign-off for all registration, progression and examination processes;
- Provide online booking and records of training and development, accessible to students and supervisors;
- Maintain support and contact with students and supervisors in any location;
- Give access using existing usernames and passwords.
There are two blog posts to help postgraduate researchers and supervisors to get started with Gateway. The system really is very user-friendly and very little training has been required. There will be workshops for those who do want a demonstration – they will be advertised here on the Hub.
We are working very closely with HAPLO to ensure that Gateway supports our particular needs. Phase one, launched in March 2016, allowed PGRs and supervisors to check the information held about them and to log supervisory meetings online. Phase two, went live in April 2016 supporting registration and transfer applications, ethics approval and requests for suspensions, extensions and writing up. Phase three will go live this term to include researcher development (workshop bookings, online training records and a training needs analysis tool) and thesis and examination.
Gateway can be accessed from PCs, Macs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones via the internet using your University username and password. Bookmark the page or add it as a ‘favourite’ (hopefully it really will be a favourite!)
82% of PGRs have engaged with Gateway and 574 supervision meetings have been logged in the first 5 months. We have run two cycles of Research Degrees Boards, Research Ethics Committee and Research Degrees Committee through Gateway. The old forms for registration, transfer, etc, have been removed from the student and supervisor toolkits and won’t be accepted by RDBs anymore. The Intention to Submit and Nomination of Examiners forms will be removed soon too, as Gateway phase 3 launches.
There have been some challenges: accessing Gateway – particularly for members of staff registered for research degrees – was an issue at first, and the email notifications function has also been a problem. Both of these are now resolved. Small changes to online forms and workflows are being requested and made all the time to meet all of our needs as best as possible. Informal feedback received to date has been very positive. I will be collecting feedback in more structured way during the coming year – most likely to coincide with Gateway’s first anniversary in March 2017.
Although we did have fun thinking of clever acronyms (one of which is possibly too risqué for this blog), we decided to call the system Gateway to reflect a student’s positive passing through the research degrees process. In the Graduate School we have been referring to the registration and transfer stages as gateways (to pass through) rather than hurdles (to jump over) for some time. Gateway should allow postgraduate researchers and supervisors to concentrate more on making progress with their research and less on the administration of it.