HEFCE Report on understanding recruitment and selection of PGR Students

A new HEFCE analysis shows that the proportion of students entering postgraduate (PG) research degrees with a prior PG qualification has increased from 33 per cent to 59 per cent over the last 12 years 

HEFCE Report on understanding recruitment and selection of PGR Students

In 2013 HEFCE commissioned the Careers Research and Advisory Centre and Vitae, supported by the University of Derby International Centre for Guidance Studies, to undertake research to increase our understanding of the transition to postgraduate research (PGR) study.

The study focused on the recruitment of students to research degree programmes (PhD and MPhil), the selection of PGR students from the candidate pool and the role of PGR students in the higher education research base. Sixty English institutions active in postgraduate research participated in the study between January and March 2014.

The study found that research students play an important role in the research activity of all institutions but that changes to funding for undergraduate programmes may have knock-on effects for postgraduate education, including PGR. Despite this, institutions report little difficulty in attracting highly-qualified applicants and most have targets to increase their PGR student numbers. Recruitment processes tend to be complex, and vary greatly. This can mean that applicants have very different experiences.

The report makes a number of recommendations, which we will consider as part of our ongoing programme of work on PGR with Research Councils UK and in the context of our cross-cutting theme on postgraduate policy and funding (link no longer active).

In conjunction with another report launched at the 2014 Vitae International Researcher Development Conference by Gill Clarke, UKCGE Vice Chair, exploring International comparisons in postgraduate education: quality access and employment outcomes

Chris Millward, HEFCE Director (Policy), said:

Since the reforms to undergraduate education in 2012, HEFCE has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight the centrality of postgraduate education to a successful higher education sector, to improve understanding of its characteristics, and to develop effective responses to its most pressing challenges.

These reports provide further insight into the situation of postgraduate education in England, enabling us to understand the routes students take through to postgraduate research and institutions’ plans for the future, and how our postgraduate system compares with those in other countries.

Postgraduate education in England is recognised as a success throughout the world, but we need to continue to invest to sustain this position. A key priority identified in these reports is taught postgraduate education, which appears increasingly to be a route into research and is a central aspect of the landscape in other countries. This provides impetus for the work we are supporting through the Postgraduate Support Scheme, which is developing real solutions to the barriers to progression at this level.’

To read the report, please click here.