The new deal for postgraduate research (PGR) aims to ensure that PGR in the UK remains open and attractive to a wide range of candidates both from the UK and abroad. PGR should be sustainable and deliver the highly skilled researchers the UK and global societies need.
As part of the new deal (set out in the government’s research and development people and culture strategy), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) launched a cross-sector consultation in spring 2022. UKRI published an analysis of the consultation responses in May 2023.
UKRI’s ‘A new deal for postgraduate research: response to the call for input’ sets out the actions UKRI will take as funder and convenor. It is a comprehensive long-term commitment to strengthening support for PGR and aims to help bring about positive change in the sector.
How we are investing in PGR
Our response to the new deal includes examples of activity that we have already undertaken to support positive change. We have already:
- increased the minimum stipend, which provides for PGR students’ living costs, by nearly 20% in cash terms between academic years 2021/22 and 2023/24
- embedded equality, diversity and inclusion as a core requirement for our doctoral training investments, both in terms of recruitment and the environment provided for all funded students
- invested in order to develop and share best practice doctoral training including supervisory practice, widening participation and supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing
- established a cross sector Postgraduate Research Funders and Providers Forum, bringing together other funders and representatives from research organisations of all sizes. It will work on areas of common interest raised in the call for input
Our next steps
We have set out an action plan outlining the steps that we will undertake to support PGR in our response.
Key activities include:
- reviewing how we set the stipend for UKRI students and the wider support that we provide for them, particularly those with disabilities and caring responsibilities, through our terms and conditions
- supporting more diverse participation in doctoral study by exploring innovative doctoral models
- facilitating increased porosity of researchers between disciplines and sectors, supporting diverse careers by promoting and strengthening wider professional development as a core part of doctoral support
- the PGR Funders and Provides Forum has collectively agreed to explore developing a common baseline for the stipend and core support for students
Council reviews and related work
As well as the overarching new deal, four of UKRI’s councils have published reviews of their investments in PGR. The findings from this work directly contribute to UKRI’s approach. These are:
- Arts and Humanities Research Council’s engagement in the future of doctoral training
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s review of future approach to support doctoral education
- Economic and Social Research Council’s review of the PhD in the social sciences
- Natural Environment Research Council’s cohort training review
Other related work that UKRI has published includes:
- an analysis of the UKRI terms and conditions of training grants from an equality, diversity and inclusion perspective
- a report on research supervision, on supporting excellent supervisory practice across UKRI doctoral training investments
- an update on its work toward a more consistent offer for doctoral funding through collective talent funding
Last updated: 26 September 2023