EPSRC monitoring and evaluation framework for the portfolio of Centres for Doctoral Training (2016/17)

In 2013/14, EPSRC funded 115 Centres for Doctoral Training as part of a process to refresh its CDT portfolio. The EPSRC monitoring and evaluation framework provides a basic framework for the monitoring and evaluation of all Centres for Doctoral Training throughout their lifetime, from the start of the training grants to their end point with EPSRC funding.

Building on previous evaluation frameworks and discussions at the CDT Directors meeting in June 2014, EPSRC has developed both a Monitoring and an Evaluation Framework, which were sent to CDT Directors in Summer 2015 to allow them to plan their workloads appropriately and to collect the requested data. These frameworks are the same across all current CDTs.

The purpose of monitoring and evaluating the Centres for Doctoral Training includes:

  • Health check of individual Centre progress – to understand where CDTs are doing well but also to flag where CDTs are struggling or even failing; it is worth noting that our last CDT mid-term review removed cohorts from CDTs.
  • Health check of the landscape, raising our understanding of the portfolio and shaping our priorities.
  • Better understanding of outputs from CDTs, with highlights and case studies.
  • Focus on models that work and best practice across key criteria.
  • Understanding the demand (from all angles, including students and users).
  • Assurance that the leverage promised for individual CDTs has been realised.
  • Evidence to make the case for continued support.

Evaluation 2016/17

Individual CDTs that were funded through the 2013 Exercise will be sent an Evaluation template during the period 28 September to 4 October 2016 inclusive. All Evaluation documents must be completed and returned by CDTs by 9 January 2017.

Background

It is EPSRC practice to monitor and evaluate its key investments as discussed in the Terms and Conditions for all CDT grants. Additionally, the sheer scale of our CDT investments (£506M in the 2013 Call plus over £450M leveraged from users) raises the awareness and the expectations from others, particularly Government, and therefore this is of heightened importance currently.

Notes

There are a number of points that all CDTs must be aware of when considering EPSRC's monitoring and evaluation requirements;

  • This is an opportunity to clarify that whilst all the costs to EPSRC underwent negotiation with their lead institution, these were not a renegotiation of the original vision and scope of the CDT.
  • This is also an opportunity to reiterate a point made at the CDT Directors meeting that CDTs are expected to evolve and improve beyond their original bid rather than to be bound to it.
  • These frameworks are the same across all current CDTs. New CDTs will not be able to answer all the questions yet but will have the indicators of what will be required for a later review, whilst continuing CDTs have ability to feed in outputs at an early stage.
  • Many questions require a narrative and will not have a single right answer.
  • Not all CDTs will have comprehensive answers for all questions:
    • Some questions will be more important to certain CDTs, depending on the context, area and sector they work in.
    • Which questions are most important will vary from CDT to CDT, depending on the context, area and sector they work in.
  • When completing your submission for the Evaluation Framework, where you have a single piece or set of information/data that is your response to multiple questions then you can combine questions within the same section to give a single narrative answer.
  • However, all CDTs are expected to be able to show significant progress across the range of questions.