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Research Student Administration Team Leader

Academic Services, Finance Office

Birmingham, United Kingdom


  • Posted on: 12th Nov 2021
  • Salary: £27,924 to £30,497, with potential progression once in post to £34,304
  • REF: 48932
  • Closes: 21st November 2021
  • Contract Type: Permanent
  • Hours: Full Time

Job Summary

The University of Birmingham makes a global impact through our world-leading research, our partnerships with a wide range of international institutions and through our international community of researchers and students.

The Research Student Administration section within Registry is primarily responsible for the progression of postgraduate research students (PGRs) from Registration to Graduation, the maintenance of their associated student records and thesis examination processing. This includes managing all the processes involved in making this journey (e.g. Leave of Absence, Programme Transfers, End of Session, etc.) and all University compliance obligations (e.g. The University’s Tier 4 Sponsor Licence obligations).

This is a key role in the Student Administration Division within Registry. The post holder is expected to have knowledge and experience of all areas within the remit of the Research Student Administration Team so that support and advice can be provided to students and staff across the university.

The Research Student Administration (RSA) team also undertakes projects and developments to enhance and improve procedures and service delivery.

Main Duties

Student Data

Working with the Research Student Administration Team to ensure the completeness and accuracy of research student data in Banner, BIRMS and TPS. This will include:

• Being an expert used of Banner, BIRMS and TPS.
• Undertaking regular monthly audits to ensure completeness and accuracy of data, ensuring all gaps and errors are rectified.
• Ensuring that agreed actions are completed and embedded into existing processes and updating procedureal documents where applicable.
• Liaising with colleagues in Colleges to identify and resolve problems with inaccurate or missing data in BIRMS.
• Ensure the University’s data exported to external agencies e.g. HESA, is accurate and up-to-date.
• Being an expert user of the reporting tool BOXI, identifying gaps in reporting provision and liaising with the Systems Team for enhancement of existing and development of new reports.
• Planning ahead to develop strategies in order to incorporate changes to procedures resulting from internal and external initiatives, e.g changes to regulations or government requirements.
• Oversight of the End of Minimum Registration Period process.
• Management of the degree congregations process for all PGRs, including running reports to identify eligible PGRs, liaising with Funding, Graduation and Awards (FGA) and Document Production to ensure that the correct PGRs are invited to graduate, coordination of the degree document checking process.
• Preparing written reports on research degree registrations and any aspects of work undertaken by the RSA team.
• Providing advice to students and staff on research degree registration, advising on relevant procedures.
• Providing advice to students and staff on University legislation, policy and procedures.
• Undertaking thesis examination processing.
• Have responsibility for the above for a specified School(s).

E-Systems Maintenance and Development:

• Ensure the Banner student records system is used effectively and efficiently by the RSA team for its own and other teams’ benefit.
• Ensuring that the Thesis Processing System (TPS) used for the tracking of all thesis examinations is used effectively and efficiently; taking a lead in liaising with Systems team and Business Systems for enhancements and improvements and participate in user acceptance testing of enhancements to the system.
• Managing the section’s internal data stores and external publications in a useful, efficient and effective manner, avoiding duplication, with knowledge of relevant legislation and considering possible risks to the University e.g. data on shared drives, Document Manager, Access databases, hard-copy file storage, web-pages.
• Maintaining up-to-date training manuals for internal use, e.g. Banner & TPS, RSA procedural documentation, and develop new training/instruction manuals as required.
• Liaising with the BIRMS project team to ensure a high-level service for users, participating in user acceptance testing for new developments.
• Supporting school users in the use of BIRMS, using BOXI to monitor data quality.
• Recording referrals to the Research Progress & Awards Sub Panel and considering effective use of the Sub Panel database.
• Identifying and recommending to the Head/Deputy Head of Research Student Administration changes in the use of e-systems which will be of benefit to the section and its customers, whilst meeting internal and external quality assurance expectations (e.g. HESA, QAA).
• Monitoring and developing RSA team’s use of Student Help enquiry management system, producing monthly management reports and statistics.
• Being an expert user of the Submission & Completion rate BOXI reports and understand the data that under underpins the reports in order to respond to queries.

Training and presentations

• Providing training on BIRMS and all research degree administrative processes to RSA team and school administrative staff. This will include giving group and one to one training sessions and developing and maintaining supporting documentation.
• Creating and undertaking presentations to staff and postgraduate researchers on any aspect of the work of the Research Student Administration Team, e.g. Preparing your thesis, Induction sessions for new PGRs, etc.
• Participating in the twice yearly Thesis Submission Event.

Collaborative and dual/jointly awarded research degrees

Have responsibility for collaborative research degree provision and dual/ jointly awarded research degree registrations and awards. This will include:
• Reviewing agreements for collaborative and dual/jointly awarded research degree registration highlighting areas of conflict with University regulations & Codes of Practice which may require approval for action outside Regulations by the Chair of the Research Progress & Awards Sub Panel.
• Representing RSA at any meetings and discussions about the development of new arrangements for dual/jointly awarded research degrees.
• Liaising with the Collaborative Provision Team to ensure RSA have access to final agreements and establishing links with partner institutions and the relevant University school for advising on University legislation and procedures.
• Establishing and reviewing supporting documentation for all administrative processes and procedures for collaborative provision and dual/jointly awarded research degrees and ensuring effective and efficient completion of all tasks.
• Undertaking all administrative processes; monitoring progress of students, investigating queries to a satisfactory conclusion and handling thesis examinations for those on dual/jointly awarded research degrees liaising with the supervisor(s) and staff at the University and at the other awarding institution.

Split Location and Distance Learning Study

To act as the main RSA Team contact for split location and distance learning research degree study. This involves:

• Establishing and reviewing administrative procedures for split location and distance learning research degree registration.
• Handling requests for transfer to and from split location and distance learning. These can be complex requiring re-calculation of tuition fee liability and periods of registration.
• Working with the Curriculum Management Team to ensure that tuition fees are set up correctly and develop robust processes to mitigate the risk of charging incorrect fees and reduce the numbers of student queries and complaints.
• Liaising with the International Students Advisory Service regarding reporting requirements to the Home Office for any Tier 4 visa holders change in study patterns.
• Reviewing administrative procedures, regulations and Codes of Practice relating to split location and distance learning study and proposing amendments as required.
• Preparation supporting documentation and advising the RSA team on production of statements in support of Short Term Study Visa applications.

Management of Student Fees Data, involving:

• Undertaking resolution of student fee queries liaising with Student Fees, the Curriculum Management team and Admissions and advising the Research Student Administration team in handling routine queries relating to tuition fee and continuation fee charges.
• Having particular responsibility for procedures and processes for the staff fee concession, liaising with HR as required to establish eligibility for receipt of the staff fee.
• Working closely with the Finance Office and the Curriculum Management Team to ensure that the fee information recorded in Banner is accurate and up to date.
• Identifying areas of concern and work closely with the key stakeholders to develop robust processes to mitigate the risk of charging incorrect fees and reduce the numbers of student queries and complaints.
• Keeping useful and up-to-date resources and training guides regarding student fees data processing/management.

Postgraduate Research Degrees with Taught Elements

• To have responsibility for administrative processes relating to taught elements of research degrees
• Establishing procedures and supporting documentation and processing of Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) decisions for taught elements and actioning APL approvals in Banner.
• Troubleshooting errors and missing marks on transcripts.

Research Council funded PGRs

Have responsibility for processing of leave of absence, extension and transfer requests for PGRs having particular responsibility for Research Council funded students (liaising with the University Graduate School) This will include:
• Checking applications for completeness and compliance with University legislation and Research Council requirements.
• Referring cases to the Research Progress & Awards Sub Panel for consideration and responding to queries raised by the Sub Panel.
• Calculating and amended end of minimum and maximum periods of study and amendments to tuition fee charges and updating student record on Banner.
• Being aware of research council requirements and working with the University Graduate School to ensure that documentation and information is accurate and up to date.
• Reviewing processes to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
• Initiating checks and follow up action on students who fail to confirm return from leave of absence.

Supervisor Records

Responsibility for supervisor records and approvals, involving:

• Providing advice to Schools on requirements of the Code of Practice of Supervision & Monitoring Progress of PGRs regarding supervision arrangements and criteria for appointments of supervisors.
• Processing requests for approval of supervisors including referring requests to the Research Progress & Awards Sub Panel.
• Undertaking timely checks of supervision records and investigating queries.

Online GRS2 Monthly Supervision Form

Responsibility for advising staff and students on the use of the online GRS2 monthly supervision form. This will include:

• Providing advice to Schools on requirements of the Code of Practice of Supervision & Monitoring Progress of PGRs regarding supervision arrangements and frequency of supervision.
• Responding to queries submitted to the online GRS2 in box.
• Running of BOXI reports to identify usage of the system and any areas of concern
• Servicing the Online GRS2 Project Board.
• Participating in development of the system and user acceptance testing.

Web Editor and Approver

Responsibility for the RSA team’s web pages. This will involve:

• Responsibility for maintenance and review of the Research Student’s Administration Team’s web pages.
• Acting as a “Web Approver” for Registry.

To understand the requirements of the University’s Tier 4 Sponsor Licence and the impact of this on the work of the RSA team. Ensuring that all RSA team procedures relating to the University’s Tier 4 Sponsor Licence obligations are adhered to in order to ensure that the University remains compliant at all times with these requirements.

Assist other members of the team, subdivision and Division during periods of heavy workload, or where specific knowledge/expertise is required.

Identify personal training and development needs and discuss these with the Head of RSA. Atend training and development activities as directed by the Head of RSA or Assistant Director, Student Administration.

Undertake such other duties as may reasonably be required by the Head of RSA or Assistant Director, Student Administration.

Person Specification

• An honours degree or relevant experience, such that the tasks detailed in the job description can be carried out effectively (essential)
• Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including ability to influence and persuade others, and to develop positive and productive relationships with customers and colleagues
• Able to demonstrate excellent organisational skills including the ability to appropriately prioritise workloads (own and others), to effectively multi-task and to work productively and effectively under pressure and to tight deadlines
• Evidence of being able to use initiative and own judgment effectively and appropriately
• Exceptional IT skills including with MS Office suite as well as large multi-user databases, with a proven ability to learn new on-line and off-line systems/packages quickly and thoroughly is essential
• Proven ability to learn new processes quickly and thoroughly
• Knowledge, gained through practical experience, of the issues related to the management and development of complex multi-user systems such as Banner/BIRMS
• Evidence of excellent attention to detail and ability to complete work to a high level of accuracy
• Able to demonstrate a flexible approach to working and learning styles
• Evidence of successfully resolving complex and challenging problems and determining a way forward
• Excellent numeracy skills in order to undertake complex tuition fee calculations
• Experience of planning, reviewing and documenting complex procedures
• A broad experience of academic administration in higher education, in particular an understanding of postgraduate research policy
• Evidence of having successfully developed e-systems to support process and procedure (either personally or as senior user)
• Recent experience of working with complex multi-user databases, such as Banner/BIRMS
• Experience of web content and design

Informal enquires to Matthew Phillips -m.phillips@bham.ac.uk

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We value diversity and inclusion at the University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community and are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working

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