Review of the Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award Scheme - Karen Booth April 2010 - Final: 26 April 2010

 
RCDG 10 14 Annex 2

 Review of the
      Dorothy
      Hodgkin
 Postgraduate
Award Scheme

     Karen Booth

        April 2010

    Final: 26 April 2010

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RCDG 10 14 Annex 2

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RCDG 10 14 Annex 2

                             CONTENTS

1.   Introduction                                                   5

2.   Evaluation of DHPA’s performance against original objectives   8

3.   How well is the DHPA meeting the requirements of students,     12
     alumni, PhD supervisors and corporate sponsors?

     3.1   Students and alumni                                      12

     3.2   PhD supervisors                                          19

     3.3   Corporate Sponsors                                       21

     3.4   Impact of the DHPA on Research Councils                  23

4.   Improving the DHPA Scheme – respondents’ views                 24

5.   Conclusions and recommendations                                26

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RCDG 10 14 Annex 2

1. Introduction

The first decade of the twenty-first century has been marked by the rise of emerging
economies such as China and India and by the increasing pace of globalisation. The
global economy is being transformed by the remarkable economic growth rates in
China and India, which have largely been sustained despite the economic downturn
at the end of the decade, whilst at the same time ease of international travel and the
internet have greatly facilitated the global flow of people, ideas and technologies.

These changes are having an impact on science. Not only is it much easier for
scientists based in different countries to share information, but rapidly growing
emerging economies are investing heavily in science. Since 1999, China’s spending
on R&D has increased by almost 20 per cent each year, whilst in 2008, India
announced plans to open five new Indian Institutes of Science, Education and
Research, eight Institutes of Technology and 30 new universities. In 2007, Brazil
announced US$20 billion of new science investment whilst in the Middle East,
science and innovation are increasingly being seen as essential to long-term
prosperity in the face of future oil shortages and climate change 1 .

The UK has one of the most productive and efficient science systems in the world,
and remains near the top of the world’s scientific league tables. Over 90 per cent of
the world’s science happens outside the UK and the rate of international
collaboration is intensifying and diversifying - UK papers with a non-UK author have
grown from thirty three per cent in 1999 to forty seven per cent in 2007. It is in the
UK’s interest to support international scientific collaboration in order that we maintain
our global scientific edge, and one of the ways of doing so is by bringing outstanding
students from the developing world to study for PhDs in top rated UK research
establishments.

The Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award

In order to achieve this, the Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award (DHPA) was
launched by the Prime Minister in 2003. The scheme had three overarching
objectives:

1. Provide the UK’s best universities, and consequently the UK science base, with
   access to a pool of first-rate students with a variety of outlooks
2. Improve the profile of the UK as an outward-looking, technologically-advanced
   country
3. Help to equip developing countries with a pool of highly skilled people who can
   make a significant difference to the pace of development of those countries.

The scheme ensured that funding would no longer be a barrier to undertaking a PhD
in the UK for outstanding students from the developing world, as both the fees and
the stipend would be paid, with 50 per cent of the total cost met by the Research
Councils and 50 per cent met by a corporate sponsor. Since its inception, the
scheme has enabled more than 500 students to undertake PhDs in the UK.

1
 Royal Society: The Scientific Century: Securing Our Future Prosperity, 2010 pp 28029
http://royalsociety.org/the-scientific-century/

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Objectives of this review

The objectives of this review are to:
 evaluate the DHPA’s performance against its original objectives; and
 Evaluate how well the DHPA is meeting the requirements of students, alumni,
  PhD supervisors and corporate sponsors.

Methodology

In autumn 2009, an online survey was carried out in order to establish how well the
DHPA was performing against its original objectives, and also how well it currently
meets the needs of students, corporate sponsors and research organisations, and
where it can be improved. The original sets of questions that were sent to each
group are attached in the Annexes; the number of people contacted and responses
received are detailed in the table below:

                                Contacted                       Responded
Current students                450                             212
Alumni                          51                              24
Research organisations          60                              100
Corporate sponsors              11                              2

The research organisations provided a greater number of responses than there were
initial contacts. This is because the initial contacts were largely DHPA coordinators
who were asked to distribute the survey to individual supervisors.

We were not able to carry out as comprehensive a survey of corporate sponsors as
we would have liked. This is due to only a very limited number of suitable corporate
sponsor contacts being available, which in turn reflects changes in the way corporate
sponsors have been engaged in the scheme. Given the limited number of suitable
contacts, these responses should be treated as less robust than those received from
students, alumni and research organisations. The nature of these changes, and their
impact are discussed in greater detail later in the report.

In order to get a broader overview of the DHPA, we also looked at data from the
DHPA Scholar database 2 , which provides basic factual information such as country
of origin, research organisation where the student is studying, year that they began
studying and so on.

Limitations of the review

In addition to the issues relating to corporate sponsors detailed above, there is a
further limitation to the study. The plan had initially been to benchmark the DHPA
against the Industrial Case Awards scheme, a similar programme aimed at UK-based
students. However, the information gained from this activity did not add much to the
survey although this did bring to light some issues relating to the administrative

2
  research organisations have the statuary responsibility after recruitment of DHPA scholars to submit
their details to research councils via the RCUK Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system which
provides the source of DHPA scholar management information used in this report

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burden of the DHPA scheme, which are discussed in detail in the section on
improving the scheme.

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2. Evaluation of the DHPA’s performance against original objectives

When the DHPA was first established in late 2003, it had three original objectives:

1. Provide the UK’s best universities, and consequently the UK science base, with
   access to a pool of first-rate students with a variety of outlooks
2. Improve the profile of the UK as an outward-looking, technologically-advanced
   country
3. Help to equip developing countries with a pool of highly skilled people who can
   make a significant difference to the pace of development of those countries

Objective 1: Provide the UK’s best universities, and consequently the UK
science base, with access to a pool of first-rate students with a variety of
outlooks

The table below details the research institutions that received the largest number of
DHPA students to date. The column at the far left provides the institution’s Power
Rank, based on Research Fortnight’s RAE 2008 Power Table, provides an indicative
overall quality ranking and is in turn based on the Research Assessment Exercise
2008’s measure of quality and quantity of research activity. The table shows that
there is a good match between those institutions that have received the highest
number of DHPA students and those that been highly ranked on the Power Table,
demonstrating that DHPA students do indeed undertake their PhDs at the UK’s best
universities.

         Research Organisation                  No. of          RAE 2008
                                                students        Power rank
 1       UCL                                    56              3
 2       Cambridge                              50              2
 3       Oxford                                 37              1
 4       Manchester                             34              4
 5       Imperial                               33              6
 6       Sheffield                              28              9
 =7      Southampton                            24              13
 =7      Bristol                                24              10
 9       Edinburgh                              23              5
 10      Kings’s College                        20              11

                                         Source: DHPA Scholar List. February 2010

PhD supervisors were asked for their views on the quality of DHPA students. The
pie chart below shows that over 90 per cent responded with either ‘good’ or
‘excellent’ with the overwhelming majority (71 per cent) rate their DHPA students as
excellent. Additional comments made by supervisors frequently described their

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students as ‘first rate’, ‘committed’ and ‘hard working’, indicating a highly positive
view of DHPA students.

   Chart 1: How would you rate the quality of the student(s) taking part in the
                               DHPA scheme?

                                 Total responses: 100
                                                Good
                                                20%

                                                                  Average
                                                                    7%
                                                                    Below average
                                                                         2%
                                                                     Poor
                                                                      0%

                               Excellent
                                 71%

In conclusion, we can say with certainty that the DHPA meets its first objective.

Objective 2: Improve the profile of the UK as an outward-looking,
technologically-advanced country

Current students and alumni were both asked how taking part in the DHPA had
changed their opinion of the UK as an outward-looking, technologically advanced
country. The table below shows that over 75 per cent of both groups had a more
favourable impression of the UK after studying here.

Table 1

                            Students                     Alumni
More favourable             76.4%                        87.5%
Unchanged                   22.2%                        12.5%
Less favourable             1.4%                         0%

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Objective 3: Help to equip developing countries with a pool of highly skilled
people who can make a significant difference to the pace of development of
those countries

The table below lists the top ten countries of origin for DHPA students. Corporate
sponsors are allowed to request students from particular countries, and the
particularly strong showing for China can be partially explained by this.

              Country                                    No. of students
    1         China                                      232
    2         India                                      92
    3         Iran                                       20
    4         Russia                                     18
    5         Hong Kong                                  13
    6         Malaysia                                   12
    =7        Vietnam                                    8
    =7        Mexico                                     8
    =7        Sri Lanka                                  8
    =9        Chile                                      6
    =9        Colombia                                   6

                                        Source: DHPA Scholar List. February 2010

It is clear that the DHPA has benefited students from a range of countries, but the
impact it has had on the pace of development is debatable. In addition, the focus of
the DHPA has shifted from the development aspects highlighted in the third objective
towards greater emphasis on business links and benefit to the UK.

We asked students and alumni to choose from a number of statements about their
motivations for participating in the DHPA scheme, and the results are shown
opposite. Respondents were allowed to choose as many (or as few) responses as
they liked. This shows that benefiting their home countries is rated as a factor by
respondents, but is only one of many factors that they regard as important.
Respondents were also given the opportunity to add comments on this section and
although the opportunity to support development in home countries was raised a
number of times, it was only one of a number of factors and those relating to
personal career development appeared more frequently.

In conclusion, it is too soon to say whether DHPA students have made a significant
difference to the pace of development of those countries. Carrying out a further
survey in ten years’ time looking at where alumni are now working may provide us
with an indication of whether the DHPA has successfully achieved this.

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Chart 2: Please select which of the following statements that you agree with

                                Current students (total responses: 759)
                                                                 DHPA has enabled me to
                                                                 build valuable knowledge
                   DHPA has enabled me to                        that will benefit my home
                    build links with the UK                                 country
                              18%                                            19%

                                                                           DHPA has not been of
                                                                              benefit to me
                                                                                  0%
                                                                            Other
    DHPA has enabled me to                                                   0%
     build on my network of
     professional contacts
              14%

                                                                    DHPA will enable me to gain
                                                                        a PhD from a highly
                                                                      regarded UK institution
                                                                               27%
                  DHPA has enhanced my
                    career prospects
                          22%

                                        Alumni (total responses: (90)

                               DHPA has enabled me to
                                build links with the UK
                                          19%                          DHPA has enabled me to
                                                                     build valuable knowledge that
                                                                     will benefit my home country
                                                                                  16%
                                                                            DHPA has not been of benefit
                                                                                      to me
                                                                                       0%
     DHPA has enabled me to
                                                                            Other
      build on my network of
                                                                             0%
      professional contacts
               17%

                                                                     DHPA has enabled me to
                                                                     gain a PhD from a highly
                                                                      regarded UK institution
                                                                               26%
                   DHPA has enhanced my
                      career prospects
                            22%

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3. How well is DHPA meeting the requirements of students, alumni, PhD
supervisors and corporate sponsors?

We also wanted to establish the degree to which the scheme was currently meeting
the needs of current students, alumni, PhD supervisors and corporate sponsors.

3.1 Students and alumni

Current students and alumni were asked a number of questions about the impact of
taking part in the DHPA scheme on their career prospects. These questions also
provide some pointers on the potential impact on the scheme on the UK’s research
base.

Respondents were asked about what they would have done if they had not taken part
in the DHPA scheme (Chart 3). The responses show that around half of both
students and alumni would have undertaken a PhD elsewhere in the developed
world, whilst a significant proportion of the rest would have either gone into
employment or undertaken a PhD in their home country. This section shows the
greatest variation in responses between current students and alumni; with 84 per
cent of alumni indicating that they would have made alternative arrangements to
undertake a PhD against 56 per cent of current students (for whom employment was
also a popular option).

These results show that the DHPA has successfully attracted excellent international
students to the UK who would have otherwise undertaken their PhDs in ‘competitor’
countries in the developed world such as the US or Australia. When we combine this
with the results of Table 1, which showed that the overwhelming majority of students
had a more favourable impression of the UK’s science capabilities as a result of
participation, then it is clear that the DHPA has had a very positive impact on raising
the profile of the UK as a research destination amongst PhD level students from
emerging economies. In addition, the DHPA has also made a UK PhD qualification
possible for a significant number of students who would otherwise either have
studied for the PhD in their home countries or gone into employment.

Chart 4 shows student and alumni responses to the question of what are the three
main benefits of undertaking a PhD in the UK (respondents were allowed to choose
more than one option). Although there is a small preference towards opportunity to
continue scientific research and quality of training, these responses are largely
evenly matched for both groups.

In addition, respondents were asked about their future plans (Chart 5). A total of 62
per cent of current students intend to maintain links with the UK, either through
further research (the most popular option), or employment with a UK company, either
in a UK location or overseas. Amongst alumni, 46 per cent are either conducting
further research in the UK or employed by a company in the UK. This demonstrates
that DHPA students and alumni value their links with the UK and are reasonably
successful at maintaining them. In addition, it is probable that those planning to work
or undertake further research overseas or who are currently doing so will maintain
their links to the UK.

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Chart 3: If you had not undertaken your PhD in the UK under the DHPA
        scheme, what would you have probably done instead?

                         Current students (total responses: 178)

                                                         Undertaken a PhD in
                                                            home country
                                            Other               11%      Undertaken a PhD
                                             4%                       elsewhere in developing
                                                                               world
                                                                                2%

      Gone into employment
              35%

                                                                       Undertaken a PhD
                                                                    elsewhere in developed
              Undertaken another form                                        world
                      of study                                               47%
                        1%

                                 Alumni (total responses: 24)

                                        Other
                                         8%
          Gone into employment                                       Undertaken a PhD in
                   8%
                                                                        home country
     Undertaken another form                                                29%
             of study
               0%

                                                                            Undertaken a PhD
                                                                         elsewhere in developing
                                                                                  world
                                                                                   0%

                      Undertaken a PhD
                   elsewhere in developed
                            world
                            55%

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Chart 4: What do you think are the three main benefits of undertaking a PhD in
                                   the UK?

                       Current students (total responses: 672)

                                                  Other      Opportunity to
                       Experience of               2%      continue scientific
                       studying in UK                          research
                            21%                                   24%

          Contacts made whilst
           undertaking PhD
                  12%
                                                               Quality of training
                                                                  received
                                                                      24%
                                   Enhanced
                                  employability
                                     17%

                                Alumni (total responses: 79)

                                                  Other     Opportunity to
                      Experience of                0%     continue scientific
                      studying in UK                           research
                           23%                                   23%

         Contacts made whilst
          undertaking PhD
                 14%

                                                            Quality of training
                                                               received
                                                                   26%
                                 Enhanced
                                employability
                                   14%

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Chart 5: After you have completed your PhD, what do you plan to do next?

                            Current students (total responses: 212)

                                 Other
                                 17%

     Seek employment with                                            Undertake further
      a foreign company                                             research in the UK
        outside the UK                                                    37%
              6%
    Seek employment with
     a UK company but
      based overseas
            7%

              Seek employment with
               a company based in
                    the UK                             Undertake further
                     18%                             research outside the
                                                              UK
                                                             15%

                            Alumni: (total responses: 24)

                                     Other
           Employed by a             13%
          foreign company                                        Undertaking further
           outside the UK                                        research in the UK
                 8%                                                    29%

     Employed by a UK
     company but based
         overseas
            0%

          Employed by a
         company based in
             the UK
               17%

                                                   Undertaking further
                                                  research outside the
                                                          UK
                                                         33%

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Respondents were also asked about their experience of day to day interactions with
PhD supervisors and corporate sponsors.

Chart 6 shows that overall, both current students and alumni have had a highly
positive experience of support from their research institutions, with 96 per cent of
alumni and 92 per cent of current students rating this as either ‘excellent‘ or ‘good’. A
far higher proportion of alumni rated this support as ‘excellent’, but there is not
enough information to say with any certainty why this is. One explanation may be
that the experience of (mostly ephemeral) day-to-day frustrations and annoyances of
research may have influenced the responses of current students, whilst alumni have
largely forgotten these issues.

However, relations with corporate sponsors far less positive (Chart 7), although this
reflects the changing role of the corporate sponsor rather than widespread problems
with communication at the individual level. The first cohort of students in 2004 were
supported by a small number of leading UK companies who each provided funding
for large numbers of students, but no connection between sponsor and student was
required. When the scheme was launched, the then Government Chief Scientific
Adviser, Sir David King, had been a prominent high-profile supporter of the DHPA
and was able to secure large amounts of funding.

Between 2005 and 2008, DHPA awards were increasingly supported by overseas
corporate sponsors or through an ‘unpaired core’ route in which research councils
provided their contributions and research organisations had themselves to find the
matching corporate sponsors and the funding. Whilst some sponsors were in contact
with their students, others were not. This is reflected by the large number of
comments from respondents noting that they either did not know who had sponsored
them, or had had very limited contact with their sponsor.

In 2008, the eligibility rules for corporate sponsors were changed, with only UK-
based companies eligible to support DHPA PhDs. In addition, there was a greater
focus on the benefits to business of taking part - businesses can choose a project
that fits their strategic research objectives, and half the cost of funding that PhD is
met by one of the Research Councils. Whilst this has led to a fall in the numbers of
DHPAs supported in recent years (although numbers have grown slightly in 2010),
those corporate sponsors currently taking part are much more engaged with the
process. This is reflected by the improved figures for current students.

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Chart 6: How would you rate the support you received from your research
                              institution?

               Current students (total responses: 212)

                     Good                                Average
                     48%                                   5%
                                                           Below average
                                                                2%
                                                            Poor
                                                             1%

                                             Excellent
                                               44%

                         Alumni (total responses: 24)

                                              Good
                                              17%
                                                          Average
                                                            4%
                                                           Below average
                                                                0%
                                                           Poor
                                                            0%

                   Excellent
                     79%

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Chart 7: Would you say that your contact with the corporate sponsor was…

                   Current students (total responses: 212)

                           Poor
                                                     Excellent
                           20%
                                                       24%

          Below average
               7%

                      Average
                       19%                           Good
                                                     30%

                          Alumni (total responses: 24)

                                                    Excellent
                                                      21%

               Poor
               50%

                                                                Good
                                                                17%

                                                   Average
                                                     8%
                                           Below average
                                                4%

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3.2 PhD supervisors

In addition for their views on the quality of students, PhD supervisors were also
asked for their views on the bureaucracy associated with the scheme, contact with
corporate sponsor and whether they thought the scheme was successful overall.

Management of the DHPA at the centre is straightforward, with corporate sponsors
required to contact BIS with an outline of their project or projects, including title of the
project and contact details of the supervisor at the research institution. Projects are
then sent to RCUK and are reviewed by individual research councils who make the
decision as to which to support. Successful projects are then processed through the
RCUK JES system, which notifies research organisations of successful projects and
also ensures that the Research Council funding is transferred. BIS notifies the
corporate sponsors who then make their own arrangements with the research
organisations on engagement in the project and transferral of corporate sponsor
funds.

 Chart 8: How would you rate the administration and paperwork related to the
                              DHPA scheme?

                                  Total responses: 99

                                     Average
                                      26%

                                                                Below average
                                                                     5%
                                                                     Time consuming and
                                                                         bureaucratic
                                                                             6%

                         Good                                   Excellent
                         36%                                      27%

Chart 8 shows the results for the bureaucracy associated with the scheme, with 63
per cent rating it as either good or excellent. This suggests a reasonably positive
result, although the chart should be treated with some caution. Firstly, some
individual supervisors had no contact with any of the paperwork as this was handled
by a central department; and secondly it is clear from the additional comments

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section that some respondents were rating their research organisation’s own
bureaucratic processes rather than the central DHPA procedure.

Chart 9 illustrates supervisors’ responses to the question of contact with the project
corporate sponsor, with 46 per cent ranking this as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, a pattern that
is very similar to the responses of current students to this question.

   Chart 9: How would you rate the contact you have had with the corporate
                                  sponsor?

                                    Total responses: 100

                                                       Excellent
                             Poor                        20%
                             24%

             Below average
                 11%
                                                             Good
                                                             26%

                                Average
                                 19%

Again, lack of contact was the most widespread issue highlighted by respondents.
However, several respondents indicated that this is not necessarily a bad thing, as
this allowed them to get on with the project without outside interference. Others felt
there was no need for there to be any contact with the corporate sponsor.

Our final question for PhD supervisors asked them whether they thought the DHPA
was a successful scheme (Chart 10) indicates that this is indeed the case, with 91
per cent rating the scheme as either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

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         Chart 10: In your opinion, is the DHPA a successful scheme?

                               Total responses: 100
                                              Good
                                              20%

                                                             Average
                                                               7%
                                                                Below average
                                                                     2%
                                                                Poor
                                                                 0%

                             Excellent
                               71%

3.3 Corporate Sponsors

Whilst we included corporate sponsors in our survey, we received only a very limited
response. Three factors impacted on this: firstly, the corporate contact in the
companies that supported the first two cohorts of students has since left the company
or moved on, secondly, no records were kept of the overseas companies that
sponsored the 2006-2008 cohorts of students, and thirdly many companies that had
supported only one or two students felt that they could not take part in the survey as
they felt they had not had a sufficiently wide experience of the scheme.

This section is therefore largely based on anecdotal evidence, supplemented by
feedback provided by companies who have been long-term supporters of the
scheme. The data presented in this section is therefore not as robust as the data
provided elsewhere, due to the small number of respondents.

The evidence suggests that the DHPA scheme is attractive to corporate sponsors,
but the scheme remains largely unknown amongst UK-based companies. Raising
awareness of the scheme amongst eligible companies is likely to result in increased
corporate sponsor participation. In October 2009, we tested the water with a
presentation to the CBI’s Inter-Company Academic Relations Group (ICARG), which
generated a great deal of interest and resulted in at least two additional companies
becoming corporate sponsors for the 2010 intake.

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Microsoft Research and Rolls-Royce have both sponsored a large number of
students through the DHPA scheme for several years. Both have found the scheme
enormously helpful in building links with students in the developing world and with
academic partners, and both have been impressed with the quality of the students
they have sponsored:

Microsoft Research

Since 2004, Microsoft Research has been recognising and supporting exceptional
research students in Europe through its PhD Scholarship Programme. The Dorothy
Hodgkin Postgraduate Award scheme, which is extremely easy to use and apply for,
has enabled us to increase the number of students we support in the United
Kingdom, whilst also helping us reach some of the brightest students in the
developing world.

                                                Fabien Petitcolas, Microsoft Research

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has been a consistent supporter of the scheme since 2006, and is very
pleased with the quality of the students it has attracted. The scheme provides an
efficient mechanism for promoting collaboration between Rolls-Royce and a number
of leading universities in the UK

                                                         Mark J Jefferies, Rolls-Royce

The DHPA does not place huge restrictions on the types of projects that can be
supported, provided that participating companies are based in the UK and that the
project enables the student to obtain a good quality PhD. This allows corporate
sponsors a fair degree of freedom to develop projects to fit their strategic objectives
(or alternatively, sponsor ‘blue skies’ research where the corporate benefit, if any, is
not immediately apparent). The below example illustrates how AkzoNobel have used
the DHPA scheme to push forward their China strategy.

AkzoNobel

Our company has a strategy for growth of our R&D capability in China which included
the establishment of a new R&D Centre, and the DHPA was catalytic in enabling us
to implement the strategy. We devised an approach by which we sought to attract
first class Chinese graduates to do their PhDs in the UK where we have strategic
partnerships with leading researchers. The candidates would work on projects that
we devised and which were of real relevance to us and they would have the
opportunity of working in our labs. Having students working on a project that was
relevant to our strategy enabled the students to see how their research could be

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RCDG 10 14 Annex 2

applied in a business context, and would also give both the students and ourselves
the opportunity to look at each other with the possibility of recruitment upon
completion of their PhDs. As a secondary goal, the DHPA studentships helped us to
extend our relationships with our academic partners.

                                                             Dale Laidler, AkzoNobel

In addition, the DHPA has in recent years attracted a number of smaller companies
who sponsor single students. Whilst this had not been the original intention of the
scheme, it is clear that the DHPA is enabling some companies who otherwise would
not be considering their own research to do so, as this quote from Tracsis Plc makes
clear:

Tracsis Plc

DHPA plays an important role in enabling small technology companies like Tracsis
Plc to engage in research for the longer term.

                                                        Raymond Kwan, Tracsis PLC

It is therefore clear that the DHPA can offer corporate sponsors a number of benefits,
including access to some of the best students from the developing world, improved
links with academic partners and the opportunity to carry out research which is half-
funded by the Research Councils. However, the lack of awareness of the scheme
amongst potential corporate sponsors has meant that only a very small proportion of
eligible companies have been able to benefit from the scheme.

3.4 Impact of the DHPA on Research Councils

Since the high point of 2005, the number of DHPA scholarships has greatly declined.
Between 2005 and 2008, DHPA awards were increasingly supported by overseas
corporate sponsors found directly by the research organisations themselves with the
result that in 2008, 61 of a total of 87 awards were in this category. When these
types of award were abolished, the number of awards available was greatly reduced
resulting in 26 awards in 2009 and 30 in 2010. This has led to a perception amongst
Research Councils that the DHPA has had its day and as a consequence the number
of awards offered has declined year-on-year, and some Research Councils have
dropped out completely.

In addition, the DHPA as it currently stands, with a large number of companies
sponsoring one or two students, places an administrative burden on the Research
Councils. It does not take that much more time to set up a company sponsoring 10
students than it does for a company sponsoring 1 on the Research Council’s grants
system; therefore it is to the Research Councils’ advantage to have a higher
proportion of companies sponsoring multiple students.

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4.1 Improving the DHPA scheme – respondents’ views

All respondents were also asked for their comments on how the DHPA could be
improved. A summary of these comments is provided below.

Improving communications between students

By far the most common request was for some kind of network to facilitate
communication between DHPA students. In the majority of cases the type of network
to achieve this was not specified, although some respondents indicated a yearly or
twice-yearly conference to bring students together. In addition, a number of
respondents (probably earlier participants but this cannot be confirmed) would like to
see improved communication with corporate sponsors. One or two respondents
made specific suggestions such as introducing a mentoring scheme for DHPA
students or careers advice. There was also a feeling that the prestige that should be
attached to the scheme was not being fully utilised.

In response to a survey of DHPA students carried out in 2007 3 , plans are already
underway to create a DHPA Community Network website designed to facilitate
improved communication between current students, alumni, supervisors and
corporate sponsors. Respondents were asked for their views on what kind of
website would be of greatest benefit at the same time as participating in this review.
Conferences and dinners were also explored although funding constraints mean that
is unlikely that these will go ahead as centrally organised activities.

Funding issues

Not surprisingly, several respondents suggested that funding should be increased. In
addition, two specific issues also emerged: the need for students to be supported
beyond three years and for funding for relevant travel and participation in scientific
conferences to be included in the grant. Some respondents from research
organisations also indicated a preference to return to the unpaired and additional
awards system. In addition, both student and research organisation respondents
suggested an increase in the percentage paid by the research council and a
corresponding reduction in the corporate sponsor amount (no corporate sponsors
suggested this, but this can be seen as a consequence of the small number of
corporate sponsor respondents, rather than a reluctance to contribute less than the
current 50 per cent to the scheme).

The remarks relating to supporting students for more than a three year period
suggest variations in the way individual research organisations use the DHPA grant
money. The DHPA grant currently stands at £90,000 to be paid over a maximum of
four years to allow for PhD periods of over 3 years. This money should be regarded
as a significant contribution to the total cost of the period of study, not the whole
amount. Both the research organisation and the corporate sponsor can provide

3
 Prabhat Sakya, Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Awards, Report 2007 – downloadable from
http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/cmsweb/downloads/rcuk/researchcareers/dhpa/dhpareport07.pdf

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RCDG 10 14 Annex 2

additional funding at any point during the period of study. The research organisation
is required to fund the student for the duration of the PhD, excluding the writing up
period. Therefore, students should be already supported for PhDs for more than
three years.

Whilst there is no doubt that additional funding for the scheme would be beneficial, it
is not likely to materialise in the current spending period.

Increased publicity

A number of respondents also noted that the scheme could benefit from increased
publicity. In comparison with Chevening Scholars or Commonwealth Scholarships,
the DHPA ‘brand’ is not well known. Some current student and alumni respondents
also noted that increased marketing of the DHPA to prospective students would open
up the scheme to a broader range of students.

The DHPA had not had a dedicated marketing/publicity budget since its inception in
2003, and with the exception of a period where it was supported by Sir David King,
then Chief Scientific Adviser, has also suffered from the lack of a high-profile
advocate. Both these factors have meant that awareness of the DHPA is low
amongst potential corporate sponsors and students. However, the development of a
marketing programme for the DHPA is contingent on the degree of research council
funding that can be expected in future years. A marketing programme that
successfully raises awareness amongst corporate sponsors and students is likely to
be counterproductive if that demand is not met by Research Council support.

Increasing the numbers of DHPA scholarships available

The number of DHPA scholarships has dwindled in recent years, from a high of 130
in 2005 to a low of 26 in 2008 and 9 (although the number has since increased
slightly). Some respondents have suggested that the number of DHPA scholarships
available should be increased.

However, in order to do this, firstly the Research Councils will need to be both willing
and able to provide the funding, and secondly sufficient numbers of corporate
sponsors would also need to be recruited.

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5. Conclusions and Recommendations

In conclusion, the DHPA is a successful scheme when measured against its original
objectives. It has provided the UK’s universities with a pool of first rate students
(Objective 1) and has improved the profile of the UK as an outward looking
technologically advanced country (Objective 2). However, it is too soon to say
whether the DHPA has made a significant difference to the pace of development of
developing countries (Objective 3) and in any case the focus of the scheme has
increasingly drifted towards benefit to the UK and links to business in recent years.

The DHPA has provided a number of benefits to the UK. It has successfully attracted
top students to the UK that would have otherwise gone to competitor countries such
as Australia or the US, and furthermore around half of all students have indicated
that they will actively maintain their links to the UK. This is in addition to improving
the UK’s profile amongst top PhD-level students from the developing world.

In addition, the feedback from current students, alumni, PhD supervisors and
corporate sponsors has been overwhelmingly positive. Students and alumni were
generally very positive about the support they received from their research
organisations, whilst PhD supervisors were also very positive about the students and
the (lack of) administration and paperwork associated with the scheme. Students,
alumni and PhD supervisors were less positive about relations with corporate
sponsors, with lack of contact being the major point of concern here. However, this
reflects the changing role of the corporate sponsor rather than widespread problems
with communication at the individual level – in the first years of the scheme, no
connection between student and sponsor was required. Corporate sponsors
welcomed the opportunity that the DHPA provides to build links with students and
academia and also welcomed the freedom to develop projects that fit their strategic
objectives.

However, there is evidence that the DHPA in its current format has become tired and
Research Councils are either dropping out altogether or reducing the number of
awards offered. Anecdotally, colleagues working in government science and
education as well as academics are often surprised to hear that the DHPA is still
running. It is therefore clear that whilst the scheme continues to be of benefit to all
participants, the current format means that it is not performing as well as it could be
and a slow decline is taking place.

Recommendations

Whilst a comprehensive survey of all the schemes available to postgraduate PhD
supervisors in science is beyond the scope of this study, it is clear that one of the
problems that the DHPA faces is that it is one of a number of such schemes, each of
which cater for a relatively small group of students. This results in a relatively high
administrative burden for the Research Council and that any marketing activity had to
work hard to make any appreciable impact.

1. We therefore recommend that the option of combining the DHPA with one or
   more suitable similar schemes is explored in greater depth, in order to take
   advantage of a reduced administrative burden and a joint marketing effort. It is

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RCDG 10 14 Annex 2

   also possible that additional benefits, such as an opportunity to make more of the
   ‘prestige’ elements of the scheme or joint networking events for participants, could
   accrue from combination with another scheme.

2. However, we also recommend that any combination with another scheme
   does not result in any change in the core DHPA remit in that it remains a
   scheme designed to enable the top students from developing countries to
   undertake their PhDs in the UK’s best research institutions, and that the fees and
   stipend of those students continue to be paid.

3. If it does not prove possible to combine the DHPA with one or more similar
   schemes, then we recommend that a re-launch of the DHPA in its current
   form is attempted. This option entails a certain amount of risk – in the current
   economic climate, it may not be possible for the Research Councils to put up
   more funding or for an increase in numbers of corporate sponsors to be found.
   Such a re-launch would also need to be backed up by a reasonably
   comprehensive marketing programme although some awareness-raising
   activities, such as presentations to business groups, do not need to be hugely
   costly.

4. We also recommend that a genuinely supportive and enthusiastic high-
   profile advocate of the DHPA (or postgraduate science schemes more generally,
   if a combination takes place) is identified and engaged in marketing and
   awareness-raising activity.

The previous survey conducted in 2007 identified the need for increased networking
opportunities for DHPA students and alumni, and respondents’ views on a DHPA
Community Network were sought as a result of the 2007 findings. The results of the
DHPA Community Network survey will be published in a separate document. In
addition, the need for networking opportunities has also been reinforced by the
findings of this survey.

5. We therefore recommend that plans to develop a DHPA Community Network
   should continue, although any changes brought about by a possible combination
   would need to be taken into account. However, it is probably that any decision to
   combine would be taken before any substantive work on the Community Network
   (such as building of a DHPA website) is underway.

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