Many of the faculty initiatives have eventually become part of the infrastructure and the ‘normal’ way of doing things. Rather than waiting for changes to be required (either externally driven or internally driven), needs have been identified and initiatives started. Then when changes came along, we’ve been able to appropriate them and use the change to legitimise what we’ve been doing and to move it to the next step. These strategies have to be seen as long-term cultural changes and the processes are not meant to be stifling.
All the changes are hard won; none of them occur easily, none of them occur through just doing one thing, none of them occur through a policy, and none of them occur through setting up an activity. They’ve got to be continually reinforced. From the leadership perspective, whoever is in the position of authority can’t do it all; no one person can do it all. The great success of the initiatives in Education has been the diversity of people that have been involved. Different people have done different things, so the weight of all the responsibility and change hasn’t sat on one set of shoulders. Also by embedding the new practices in the ‘normal’ process, the advantage is that when people change or move on, or when they change role, there are other people in the system that understand what the issues are and what needs to be done so we’re not continually reinventing the wheel.
The process of building a quality research education environment is like a collective renewal process where you have to keep on tackling it and working away at it in order to meet change. Sometimes this is driven by external performance, for example, issues like completions have been very influential. Bringing in new people and re-energising is also important, for example, we have young post-docs with relevant skills running some short courses or workshops for students and contributing now to this overall doctoral framework. It’s always going to be fragile, always going to be dependent on individuals, but if the overall climate in the faculty is supportive and appreciative of initiatives in this area, then worthwhile change is possible.
In the next section you can read some commentary from the project team on the case study.