Understanding the recruitment and selection of postgraduate research students

CRAC (the Careers Research & Advisory Centre) and Vitae, supported by the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby and in collaboration with the UKCGE, are commencing research work on behalf of HEFCE. This will gather qualitative information to build a picture, from an HE institutional perspective, of the market for prospective postgraduate research (PGR) students in England, how they are recruited and selected, and their role in the HE research base.

The research will be undertaken through a survey of English HEIs in order to depict the broad landscape of activity, together with a series of interviews and focus groups with key informants in a sample of HE institutions, selected to reflect the diversity of PGR provision in England. Research findings will be supported with perspectives from key sector stakeholders. The research will take place in the period January to March 2014.

We are inviting HE institutions to participate in the project by contacting at CRAC.

More information about the project:

The aims are to:

  • Identify the processes used by English HEIs to recruit UK and international PGR students to their doctoral programmes, as well as perspectives on the demand for PGR study (to complement recent quantitative work). This will also consider the perceived impact of recent changes to doctoral training;
  • Understand how HEIs attempt to identify the ‘best' students aspiring to undertake postgraduate research and select them. What do HEIs seek in terms of candidates' prior learning, attainment or experience, and what are the barriers for prospective PGR students to overcome, which may have implications for the sustainability and diversity of the sector?
  • Understand how HEIs align the activity of their PGR students with their strategic research missions and how they nurture and develop these students as part of their research capability.
  • Draw findings together for HEFCE to consider the implications for the sustainability of postgraduate research provision and the role of its current funding arrangements, as well as providing a new element of the evidence base against which future developments can be viewed.