MAGIC (Mathematics Access Grid Instruction and Collaboration)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mathematics


The MAGIC (Mathematics Access Grid Instruction and Collaboration) project commenced in 2006 and is aimed at sharing postgraduate courses in mathematics for PhD students using access grid technology in a virtual room setting. The consortium currently has 19 universities as partners throughout the UK, with both small and large mathematics departments fully involved in the delivery of the programme in addition to their students being able to take fully participate in the lectures. The courses are given in the Autumn and Spring terms and cover all areas of mathematics. More details about MAGIC and the lecture series programme may be found at . From September 2011 MAGIC is planning to introduce a number of changes to the way it manages its operations. The changes affect the committee structures with the formation of a Management Team and a single overall Director of MAGIC who will be supported by administrative and technical support staff. This will result in a more efficient managerial structure and together with MAGIC partners contributing towards the running costs, this will enable MAGIC to become self sustaining in the longer term. On the academic side, the changes will allow MAGIC to consolidate its course provision and improve quality. The range of courses available will facilitate members to be able to offer at least 100 hours of formally assessed training courses to its students in line with EPSRC's expressed aspirations regarding the training of DTA funded students.

Planned Impact

MAGIC has allowed and will continue to allow all Mathematics Departments involved in the consortium, irrespective of size, to greatly improve the training of their PhD students along the lines of the IRM recommendations. Through the combined resources of the MAGIC consortium, partners are able to take advantage of the breadth of training offered which they are not able to deliver on their own. This in turn enables MAGIC to contribute to the diversity of excellent research in the UK mathematics community. MAGIC has enabled a huge cultural shift to be created in the manner in which PhD students are trained in the UK Proposal original proforma document
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towards that recommended by the International Reviews. The size of MAGIC makes its impact in this respect very high: in a few years the standard route for UK PhD training will look much more like those of our more successful competitors abroad. In the longer term these better trained PhD students should impact positively on the national and international job markets. The changes that MAGIC has planned, and strong commitment by MAGIC partners to align with best practice, will enable the UK to produce students with the much broader mathematical education that the international community needs and expects. MAGIC is able to drive excellence and has the potential to impact on creating a national standard for the taught course training of PhD students. MAGIC encourages mathematicians of all disciplines to work together and avoid the artificial pure, applied labels. It helps to break down the barriers between different subject groups. It brings together many diverse groups of individuals (staff and students) with varied skills working together on common goals. The technology also facilitates collaboration of groups without researchers having to travel far. This does strengthen the mathematics community generally and in time has the impact to create a different type of mathematician. MAGIC is the largest group of its kind anywhere in the world which uses access grid (AG) technology and this already has, and will continue to, influence the development of AG technology and video recording software. Data from the Access Grid Support Centre has shown that MAGIC accounts for 18% of usage of the IOCOM software used in the virtual room setting. MAGIC is uniquely placed because of its size to provide a ready pool of highly qualified graduates and researchers able to fulfill the requirements of various industrial sectors such as in banking, health, and social science where there is shortage. By exploiting the networking opportunities there are numerous possibilities for MAGIC to interact with industry and have significant impact on their recruitment needs. In addition the MAGIC resources of recorded lectures provide a valuable asset for CPD activities to develop, making it possible for employees of companies to take advantage of courses in their own environment and at their convenience. This has possible impact on working practices and how CPD activities are used. MAGIC is unique in that it is able to utilize its huge network to provide multiple experts in many of the areas for which there is demand. The potential impact of all this is to further strengthen the bonds between academia and industry. Without the ready made network this would be much harder for industry to do.


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