UK Research Supervision Survey 2021 Report

Owen Gower

Director, UK Council for Graduate Education

Karen Clegg

Head of the Research Excellence Training Team, University of York

The UK Research Supervision Survey is the UKCGE’s national survey offering those involved in research supervision an opportunity to share their experiences of supervising doctoral candidates.

institutions represented 
enjoy being a research supervisor 

With support from the Wellcome Trust and UKRI, we commissioned Shift Learning to conduct research to gain an understanding of the workplace experiences of research supervisors working in UK higher education.

We found that:

  • 91% — enjoy research supervision, with 93% valuing their involvement in research supervision.
  • Person-centred supervision is the norm in the UK, with the majority of respondents (73%) agreeing that it is their role to supervise a person not a project’
  • 71% felt supported to enact good supervision and address issues in practice’, however only 52% felt that research supervision was valued by their institution.
  • Team supervision has become standard practice with 70% frequently’ or always’ undertaking research supervision as part of a team in the last five years and 65% agreeing that team supervision offers a better experience for the doctoral candidate.
  • Acknowledging the role of postgraduate researchers in creating a vibrant research environment, 82% agreed that research supervision improves the quality of their own research. In addition, 75% said that increasing the diversity of the doctoral candidate population would improve the research culture at their institution.

“…one of the most rewarding roles that an academic can perform”


The Council would like to acknowledge the support and guidance of the following people in conducting this research:

Professor Douglas Halliday

(Past) Chair of Trustees, UKCGE

Dr Gill Houston

(Past) Chair of Trustees, UKCGE

Dr Anne Marie Coriat

(Past) Trustee, UKCGE

Dr Rebekah Smith McGloin

(Past) Trustee, UKCGE