SISB5 - Towards a Framework for Supporting PGR Wellbeing at the University of Exeter

Day Day 1
Session Special Interest
Start time 18.00
Room Cambridge
Code SISB5

Kelly Preece, Researcher Development Manager, University of Exeter


In this Special Interest Session we present a framework for supporting PGR wellbeing under development at the University of Exeter in order to open discussion and receive feedback from colleagues. In the session we are particularly interested in exploring barriers to supporting postgraduate research student wellbeing.

The wellbeing of postgraduate research students (PGRs) is increasingly a topic of national concern. We now regularly see discussion of work-life balance, sources of stress and more serious mental health problems faced by PGRs in the Times Higher Education, the Guardian Higher Education Network and on PhD blogs like The Thesis Whisperer. Last year’s Vitae International Conference featured a workshop on postgraduate researcher wellbeing, which was also a focus of the Inclusive Researcher Development in January 2017, and a recent #vitaehangout. Fundamentally, in order to attract and retain high quality postgraduate researchers and maintain an equal and diverse research environment, wellbeing should be at the forefront of our conversations.
The Student Guild at the University of Exeter conducted a PGR Wellbeing Survey in 2015, which resulted in a number of recommendations. In response, the Doctoral College have been working to develop an holistic framework of support for the wellbeing of our PGRs that looks to achieve a number of aims: raising awareness of wellbeing issues and support services for PGRs, building resilience and support amongst our PGR community and providing clear routes of access to therapeutic support. Recent additions to our PGR wellbeing provision includes:

  • Increased access to wellbeing workshops through our Researcher Development Programme
  • Hosting a Doctoral College Wellbeing Week
  • Working with HR services to provide access to Care First, a 24/7 telephone counselling service, in the same was as staff across the University
  • Introducing PGR to PGR mentoring
  • Reviewing the role of PGR mentor and introducing PGR Pastoral Tutors