Response to the New Deal for Postgraduate Research Consultation
The “New Deal for Postgraduate Research” is part of the the UK Government’s R&D People and Culture Strategy
UKRI was commissioned by Government to support its R&D People and Culture Strategy. In particular, UKRI was tasked with exploring a ‘New Deal for Postgraduate Researchers’ which would:
- consider how postgraduate research students are supported and developed, practically and financially
- consider how best to prepare postgraduate research students for rewarding careers, and address factors that contribute to precarity in early career research
- enable a more diverse range of people to consider careers in research
- consider how to attract and retain talented people within the sector and support the flow of people and ideas in the R&D system across the world
Developing the New Deal for Postgraduate Researchers is expected to be “a long-term piece of work” involving a number of different pieces of research and engagement activities. To date it has involved:
- ESRC: Review of the PhD in the social sciences
- EPSRC: Review of EPSRC support for doctoral education
- AHRC review call: doctoral training in the arts and humanities: engagement, review and options for future provision
The UKCGE’s UK Research Supervision Survey, which was conducted with support from UKRI and the Wellcome Trust, has also been cited as influencing the outcomes of New Deal.
National Consultation on the New Deal
As part of its stakeholder engagement activities, UKRI undertook a national consultation between February — May 2022.
Responses were requested from:
- postgraduate research students
- mission groups etc.
The consultation asked the following twelve questions:
- What should be the goals for contemporary postgraduate research training?
- Are there any additional areas that we should explore under models and access? Please state why.
- What challenges should we prioritise under models and access?
- Are there any additional areas that we should explore under routes in, though and out of postgraduate research? Please state why.
- What challenges should we prioritise under routes in, though and out?
- Are there any additional areas that we should consider in our work on rights and conditions? Please state why.
- What challenges should we prioritise in our work on rights and conditions?
- Are there any additional areas that we should explore in our work on funding and financial support?
- What challenges should we prioritise in our work on funding and financial support?
- Are there any areas that we could usefully focus on, or other questions that we should explore, not covered within our four focus areas?
- Do you have any further comments on the New Deal?
- What factors should we consider as we develop our engagement plans for future New Deal work?
The UKCGE responded to this consultation. Our response made it clear that creativity, innovation and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances are the goals of contemporary postgraduate research. We also stated that achieving these goals requires a healthy research culture in which:
- Risks are accepted as an inherent part of research, and failure is normalised
- Postgraduate researchers are treated with respect and encouraged to be autonomous
- Work-life balance, flexible working and wellbeing are seen as critical enablers of creativity and inherent to a progressive research culture
In accordance with our charitable objectives, among our other key messages were that the New Deal should:
- promote equity, diversity and inclusion in postgraduate research, particularly in relation to funding decisions
- adequately recognise the work involved in effective research supervision
- better communicate the benefits of doctoral study
- promote part-time doctoral provision
- celebrate and protect the diversity of doctoral programmes
To download our full response, please click the link below: