Annual Review 2021: Education success and recognition

Award for postgraduates’ mental health toolkit

A tool to help postgraduates thrive in their studies while prioritising their mental health has been recognised with a national award. The Researcher Toolkit, designed and piloted at the University, won the FindAUniversity Award for the best Postgrad Wellbeing Initiative. The project, funded by the Office for Students, was created to help postgraduate researchers, who are at particular risk of experiencing mental ill health. The toolkit comprises five Researcher Development workshops which cover key research skills and tips – but repackage them within overarching messages about wellbeing, work–life balance, good working practice, and self-care. The workshops can be delivered in person or online and are always delivered by a postgraduate researcher to benefit from peer-to-peer support.

We wanted to create something that could make a genuine difference to people and be used across the UK. Mental health is a really important issue for students, and postgraduate research students are a particularly unique and diverse group, who might experience stigma in accessing support. We wanted to take a preventative approach and create something that would help to build a sense of community and to foster positive research culture.

Dr Sophie Homer, Lecturer in Psychology, who led the toolkit’s creation following her own PhD

Sophie Homer Psychology PhD Student Medium Resolution Image

Recognition for graduate recruitment and mentoring

The long-standing collaboration between the University and Babcock was recognised with a national accolade for helping students and graduates excel in their careers. Babcock won the Excellence in Careers and Employability Service Engagement award, after being nominated by the University, at the TARGET jobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2021. These recognise the best practices among recruiters nationwide, as well as the programmes that help nurture the UK’s brightest talent. Babcock has long-standing links with the University, such as being the long-term sponsor and designer of the University’s FLUX competition, where students compete in teams to find a solution to a business challenge. And it has recently developed a bespoke mentoring programme to connect students from widening participation backgrounds with industry professionals, with the aim of boosting confidence, networks and industry insight.

We are delighted that Babcock has been recognised for its efforts nationally in the world of university–employer partnerships and graduate recruitment. It is thoroughly deserved and shows the depth and breadth of our relationship and how we are working together for mutual benefit.

Steve Gaskin, Head of Student Careers

MSc in Cyber Security recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre

The University’s MSc Cyber Security degree has been formally recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The programme, run by the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, has been awarded NCSC provisional certification. The accolade acknowledges the academic content of the programme, which has been fully refreshed in recent years, and the expertise and facilities which students can access in the course of their studies. The University has been at the forefront of cyber security research for almost four decades, with its current work in the field being spearheaded by the Centre for Cyber Security, Communications and Network Research (CSCAN).

With cyber security playing a critical role in the protection, operation and ultimate growth of UK Plc and the global economy, it is essential that there are suitably well-qualified graduates. It is therefore important that there are educational programmes that can deliver highly skilled and well qualified graduates to meet that demand. The NCSC certification provides a strong basis for both applicants and employers to recognise the quality and focus of the learning provided.

Nathan Clarke, Professor of Cyber Security and Digital Forensics

<p>Earth in space with blue networks connecting the world together.</p>

Education success and recognition

The University has a proud pedigree of external recognition for its teaching culture – particularly in relation to National Teaching Fellowships (NTFs) by Advance HE. This trend was continued in 2021 with the award of an NTF to Dr Pollyanna Magne, a Lecturer in Clinical Education and the Programme Lead for MSc Global Health. Pollyanna received the accolade for a sustained track record of impact on teaching and learning in higher education at a local, national and international level. Following an early career as a secondary school teacher, Pollyanna started at the University in 2001, as a Widening Participation Officer, helping pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their potential in higher education, and leading the national mentoring programme. She then joined the Learning Development Team, enabling students to develop their academic skills, and in 2007, became an Associate Professor in Educational Development and the Programme Director of the University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. Pollyanna’s award follows two other NTFs in late 2020, awarded to Dr Cathy Coehlo, Associate Professor in Clinical Dental Education, and Dr Lucy Spowart, Associate Professor in Postgraduate Education.

Honorary graduates 2021

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty joined graduating students on Plymouth Hoe when he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Medicine in recognition of his support for the University’s medical science research community. Sir Chris, Chief Medical Adviser to the UK government and head of the public health profession, was presented with the doctorate by the University’s Chancellor, The Lord Jonathan Kestenbaum, in the ceremony for the School of Biomedical Sciences and the Peninsula Medical School.

It was an honour to receive a degree with University of Plymouth students graduating in medicine and health sciences, many of whom have been working to combat COVID-19 as well as completing their studies. This generation of students have had a particularly hard last two years and have responded remarkably. It was also an opportunity to celebrate the great medical research the University conducts which will improve health in the future.

Professor Sir Chris Whitty

Among the other leading public figures to be recognised this year were:

  • 8 Vice Admiral Keith Blount, Commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business
  • 8 eminent Scottish zoologist Professor Sir Ian Lamont Boyd FRSB FRSE, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science
  • 8 Charles Courtenay, the 19th Earl of Devon, who received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts for his contribution to culture in the region and his support of the University’s history and heritage research community
  • 8 multiple Emmy-nominated oceanographer Philippe Pierre Cousteau, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science for his work with the University’s Marine Institute
  • 8 Lord Terence Etherton, formerly one of the most senior lawyers in the country, who held the positions of Master of the Rolls, Head of Civil Justice and Chancellor of the High Court, who was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws
  • 8 Rear Admiral Nigel Guild FREng, a former Controller of the Royal Navy, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering
  • 8 Professor Richard Ibbetson, one of the most respected dental education experts in the country, who was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Dentistry for his long standing support of the Peninsula Dental School
  • 8 Julia Elizabeth King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE FRS FRAeS, revered British engineer and crossbench member of the House of Lords and the present Chair of the Carbon Trust, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering
  • 8 the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, the Bishop of London and former Chief Nursing Officer for England, who was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Health.