The University Graduate College was launched on 1st January 2011, incorporating the four Research and Graduate Schools and the postgraduate research activity of the Graduate Centre.
The four Graduate Schools led the development of discipline-based researcher development activity since their inception. One, the Research and Graduate School in Social Sciences (the ‘RGS’), was formed in 1998 with the aim of bringing together the research preparation and training for, in particular, ESRC-funded doctoral researchers including the MSc/Diploma in Social Science Research Methods. In January 2005, three new Graduate Schools in each of Humanities, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and Biomedical and Life Sciences were inaugurated. Their activities included student led conferences and annual lectures as well as a broad programme of skills training workshops.
The Graduate Centre opened in October 1999 to serve the needs of postgraduate taught students as well as research students. The Graduate Centre offers student and social facilities for postgraduates and serves as a focal point for the postgraduate community at Cardiff. Initially, a small number of workshops were available for students, and the Centre assisted with the co-ordination of the “Skills Conference”, a student-run event which covered topics such as time management, academic writing, and career development. In 2002, the remit of the Graduate Centre expanded to include co-ordination of university-wide transferable skills training for researchers.
Together, the Graduate Schools and the Graduate Centre delivered the joint “Research Students’ Skills Development Programme” (the RSSDP), a comprehensive suite of workshops and training opportunities – comprising over 195 topics – which has been well-evaluated and enjoys strong support and participation from the postgraduate research community.
During 2009-10 session, the Academic Strategy Committee commissioned a review of the Graduate Schools as part of strengthening Cardiff University’s profile in postgraduate research education. The Review concluded that, whilst maintaining the RSSDP, there was a need to undertake additional functions related to quality assurance and building research capacity, and that a single University Graduate College would be best placed to take on this work. The postgraduate research activity of the Graduate Centre and the work of the four Research and Graduate Schools were therefore incorporated into the new University Graduate College.