Item for the Teaching Committee of 14. Nov. 2018,
submitted by the MSc Proj. Mgr.
Huge number of MSc students in the 2018/19 diet.
How to handle MSc project allocation? For discussion.
On 10/18/2018 05:22 PM, sstewa14@staffmail.ed.ac.uk wrote:
>
> Yes we definitely have a considerable higher number of MSc students this year.
>
> For 2017/18 we had:
> 273 MSc students who made to the dissertation phase.
> 12 MSc Design Informatics students who made it to dissertation phase.
> 30 CDT students
>
> 2017/18 Total = 315
>
> 2018/19 we currently have:
> We have over 400 (I think roughly 422 MSc students, but this also includes part time students).
> So far there are 389 MSc students enrolled onto the Dissertation
> So far there are 16 MSc Design Informatics students enrolled onto MDI
> 38 CDT students
>
> 2018/19 Total (so far) = 443
The ITO reported the numbers of MSc students for the upcoming season of
MSc thesis proposals/allocation/supervision (see above).
While the numbers might not be totally exact (it omits the <=10 students in 2017/18
who did not progress to thesis), one thing is clear:
There is a massive increase in the number in the number of MSc students (~40%
more) in 2018/19 compared to the (already very high) number of last year 2017/18.
How we are going to find projects/supervisors for so many MSc students?
A brief scan of the staff list at
https://portal.theon.inf.ed.ac.uk/reports/duties/now/TP261_Duties_By_Person.shtml
shows that there are ~65 person equivalents of full-time staff with MSc supervision duties
(taking into account people with half-loads, etc. and unifying them into full-person equivalents).
Assuming the current teaching load of 5 projects per full-time person, this yields
65*5=325 projects, far less than the 443 required.
As in previous years, we might get some more via research-staff volunteers
and staff who voluntarily take on higher loads.
(External supervisors do not count, since their internal co-supervisors
get full credit.)
However, this will not be enough.
In recent years, these extra projects were about 30-45 at most.
Moreover, some projects do not get any student interest,
and we need some flexibility in the allocation to make people (moderately) happy.
So even having exactly 443 projects is not enough either.
What can be done about this? For discussion by the Teaching Committee.
Measures suggested so far:
1.
Increase the standard MSc supervision load from 5 to 6, or even to 7.
6 might not be enough, since (65 supervisors)*(6 projects/supervisor) +
(45 volunteer projects) = 435.
We have 443 MSc students and need some flexibility for the allocation.
Thus we would need approx. 470-480 projects.
Almost all staff (who gave an opinion) already perceive the
supervision load of 5 MSc projects in 2016/17 and 2017/18 as excessively high.
Increasing it to 6 or 7 is problematic.
2.
Do more group projects that are scalable (in the number of students).
Group projects have been done in 2017/18 by
Stuart Anderson, and Hugh Leather+Volker Seeker.
Bjorn Franke suggested doing more scalable group projects in 2018/19,
e.g., replication studies (taking a paper and repeating the experiments),
particularly in machine learning.
How to recruit staff who are willing to supervise such large group projects
(probably with strong TA support) ?
How to administer such group projects? Standards, guidelines, etc.