Archive for graduate program

MASDOC

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by xi'an

On Wednesday, I went to the University of Warwick to take part in a meeting about their new MASDOC programme. This programme was launched last year with the support of the EPSRC in three U.K. universities, Warwick, Lancaster and Cambridge (for math). It prepares graduate (fifth year) students for conducting a PhD in Mathematics or Statistics by providing them with extra tutoring and by creating a “cohort” of students working together on research topics. For the first year, the cohort was made of eleven students selected among applicants from both the UK and abroad. Besides a solid volume of courses in Mathematics, Probability and Statistics, MASDOC has the students working in small teams on an applied math problem (e.g., data assimilation, biomembranes, brain imaging) in order to (a) determine a reserarch programme and (b) propose a solution. The teams switch between (a) and (b) which is a neat good idea. The students are also given a common working room in order to increase their team abilities. When discussing with them, I was quite impressed by their maturity and involvement, as they already had a vision of their research interests. In fact, they have somehow gained one year ahead of the average student in terms of decision-making and planning, if not in terms of contents. Of course, this approach to graduate training is rather elitist in that it cannot be extended to all first-year graduates, however it is a worthy investment by EPSRC and the selected universities for building a core of PhD students and future academics with a broader spectrum, a more mature approach to research and teamwork, and hence a higher efficiency now and later. As a side issue, the MASDOC programme is also pushing for exchanges between institutions at the graduate and PhD levels, which is always a plus. Especially when considering the possibilities offered by the Paris graduate school of mathematical sciences.