Thursday, 26 April 2012


At De Montfort University, Hugh Aston Building, this lunchtime for the launch of a new PhD internship scheme, jointly offered by De Montfort University and the University of Leicester.

For six weeks in the summer of 2011, Leicester Council of Faiths had the services of a graduate intern provided by De Montfort University. Rahat Ahmed gave a lot to our organisation in that short time and on the basis of that experience we'd back this kind of scheme. We hope we can take advantage of this new internship scheme, either through the Council of Faiths or through the Regional Equality and Diversity Partnership (REDP's Researcher, Carolyn Pascoe, is here with me). We're the only ones representing the Voluntary and Community Sector as potential employers. There are nine other organisations represented at this launch, from the private and public sectors. 

PhD students are recruited from the best quality graduates and spend three or more years researching into a specific area, analysing their findings and generating solutions. They are self-motivated and disciplined individuals who are accustomed to working alone to come up with solutions to problems.  Because of this quality, they will require minimal supervision throughout the project. Although some PhD students subsequently carry on into an academic career, over 50% of doctoral graduates leave university to enter business or public service. In recognition of this, all research students receive extensive key-skills training in areas such as communication, project-management, information technology, etc. The PhD Internship scheme is intended to give research students an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the workplace, using their skills to address critical issues of commercial or social importance. PhD interns may bring directly relevant knowledge and skills to the area of work, or they may be able to apply portable skills that are relevant and useful across a variety of disciplines and topics.  

Between them the two universities have over 2,000 PhD students. This new PhD internship scheme will have a relatively low-key start, with six internships in the first year, doubling in number in the following year. Any internships starting this year should be completed by 31 December 2012.

The cost to an organisation taking on a PhD student as an intern is £600, which covers 20 days of the PhD intern’s time.  This money will be used to pay travel expenses for the student and any other incidental costs associated with the project as well as the University’s administration costs. The 20 working days can be spread over a period not exceeding six months as agreed between the organisation and the intern.

Seven PhD students who'll be taking part in the internship scheme attended the launch today. They're all in the photo above. Back row, left to right: 
Valasia Sawvidou, University of Leicester, Department of Politics & International Relations. PhD title: The immigration issue and the effect it has on voting in national and European Parliament elections
Joba Akinjo, University of Leicester, Department of Toxicology. PhD title: Side effects of chemicals on male reproductive system
Gemma Mitchell, University of Leicester, Department of Sociology. PhD title: How experts navigate and translate risk knowledges in the "risk society": a case study of social workers
Shujaul Khan, Leicester University, Department of Biology. PhD title: Plant communities classification and vegetation ecosystem services of the Western Himalayas
Front row, left to right:
Eleanor MacKillop, De Montfort University, Department of Politics & Local Government. PhD title: Change in local government understanding of commissioning
Mohamed Maricar, De Montfort University, Department of Electronic Engineering. PhD title: Design of circuit to enhance the performance of high frequency Planar Gunn diode
Ammar Abdulwahab Noorwali, De Montfort University, Faculty of Technology. PhD title: Reducing variability levels in food processing industry

This is the first of two visits to Hugh Aston today. I'll be back later for Sue Thomas's Professorial Lecture, The Future of Cyberspace.

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