The Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium recently developed a new SERU Graduate Student Survey (gradSERU) reflecting the importance of understanding and seeking improvements in graduate education in an era of increased global competition for talent. In 2018, nine universities participated in gradSERU, including the University of Toronto, University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Delaware, Bremen University, Lund University, and Utrecht University. Other universities that plan to administering gradSERU include the University of Iowa, the University of Oregon, the University of Connecticut, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maryland, Göttingen University, Osaka University, Victoria University at Wellington, Lancaster University, and other major research universities.
With funding support from the Volkswagen Foundation, the first gradSERU Research Symposium was held on October 4-5, 2018 in Hannover, Germany. The Symposium provided a forum to analyze responses from the gradSERU Survey thus far collected, to discuss further development of the survey instrument, the challenges faced by top research universities to improve the graduate experience and to be competitive for talent globally, and recruitment and expansion of the network of gradSERU campuses.
Representatives from top-tier universities in North America, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, China, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Russia participated, most of which are current and prospective SERU Consortium member campuses.
Chaired by SERU Founding PI and CSHE researcher John Aubrey Douglass, the first day focused on the following topics: Perspectives of Doctoral Education in Industry, Global Markets and the Competition for Talent, Tensions between Doctoral Education and Research Training, Reforms and Challenges for Graduate Education. Keynote speeches by Wilhelm Krull, Secretary General VW Stiftung and Jürgen Leohold (Director of the AutoUni) were accompanied by panel sessions that included Marijk van der Wende (Professor of Higher Education Systems, Utrecht University), David Bogle (University College London, LERU Doctoral Education Group), Hongjie Chen (Peking University), Erika Kothe (Uniwind and Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena) on global markets for graduate talent.
A session focused on North American universities and their challenges and reform efforts that included, Scott Lanyon (Vice Provost and Dean Graduate Education, University of Minnesota), and presentation on gradSERU data by gradSERU Research & Development Director Daniel Jones-White (University of Minnesota) and representatives from the University of Toronto, Michigan State University, the University of Iowa, University of California – San Diego, Rutgers University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Igor Chirikov (Vice-Rector, HSE University Moscow and SERU-I Managing Director, CSHE UC Berkeley) presented gradSERU data from international partner campuses and led a student panel; Katrien Maes (Deputy Secretary-General League of European Research Universities) led a panel on post-graduate outcomes that includes Maresi Nerad (University of Washington and SERU/CSHE Faculty Associate) and Choni Flöther (International Centre for Higher Education Research, Kassel Universitat).
A panel that included gradSERU data results in Europe included Andreas Breiter – (Vice President for Research Universität Bremen), and representatives from Utrecht University and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. A similar panel focused on graduate education in Asia and Oceania and included representatives from Osaka University, Victoria University Wellington, and Peking University.