Well, so Staffordshire University now has a Graduate School, and I am its Head. Run for the hills!
I thought it might be worth thinking about what is a Graduate School?
Coming as I do from the States, the phrase ‘Graduate School’ has two very distinct meanings. On the one hand it means, as it does here, a part of the University in some way responsible for ‘graduate’ students and their studies. A Graduate School is a place, a thing. It often has a building, or set of buildings — sometimes a whole campus! On the other hand, though, it is most commonly used to mean exactly the same as ‘I am studying for a Masters/ a Doctorate’. So, an undergraduate might be asked ‘Are you going to graduate school?’. By this the questioner simply means ‘Are you planning on studying for a Masters/ Doctorate?’ ‘Graduate School’ here is an activity or a pursuit, not a place or thing. Up to last year, a student could be at graduate school here at Staffordshire, even though we didn’t have a Graduate School.
Why is this important? For someone in my position, a newly appointed Head and trying to set up the GS, it is a salient and humbling lesson. What is being set up here need not and perhaps should not have an identity of its own, as a place or thing would. It does not need and again perhaps should not have a shiny new building (which is fortunate, ’cause that ain’t going to happen), nor a fancy name (although The Charles Darwin Graduate School springs to mind — we have as good or better claim to that name than anyone else). The Graduate School first and foremost should be a service, designed simply to help the graduate-level education that was already happening run a little more smoothly.