Images shows a syringe / research experiment

Supporting early career development with postgraduate research

By Jenny Frost - 30 September 2022

RGU’s research culture has been voted the ‘best in the country’ according to a national survey of postgraduate research students. Vice Principal for Research and Community Engagement, Professor Nick Fyfe, highlights how RGU is enhancing and facilitating the aspirations of doctoral students and early career researchers and explains why this is so important for the University.

The annual Postgraduate Research Student Experience (PRES) survey conducted by Advance HE, gathers information about the experience of postgraduate research students on doctoral or research master’s courses. The survey explores postgraduate students’ experiences of their supervision, resources, the research culture, professional development and wellbeing among others.

Results from the 2022 survey highlight a strong research culture at RGU, with satisfaction for this category being top out of all the 57 institutions that took part.  The results also show that RGU is 1st for research skills and 2nd for supervision, support and resources. In other areas, RGU has been voted 3rd for responsibilities and 4th for professional development and progression.

Whilst the results are no grounds for complacency -  it does suggest we are moving in the right direction.  

This is the best performance RGU has achieved since the inception of PRES over 10 years ago and it is worth noting that in 2015, RGU was ranked lowest by the postgraduate research students  for its research culture. Yet it is testimony to all the efforts our Graduate School, research student supervisors and research administrative staff have made since then, that we have seen such a phenomenal improvement.

Credit for this excellent achievement firmly belongs to all those involved with supporting our research postgraduate community.  Collectively the PRES 2022 results confirm you deliver a fantastic learning environment for our postgraduate research students and it is great to see this recognised through PRES.  Many thanks for all your hard work – it is greatly appreciated.

We want research at RGU to thrive so that we can develop the next generation of researchers who will deliver real change for society. To do this, we need researchers to feel part of a fair, inclusive environment in which colleagues help each other to succeed.

We need to demonstrate that we are committed to career development and training. That’s why we are building on the really successful Early Career Researcher Development programme and will be launching a Mid-Career Development programme very shortly.

Other ways we can support our research culture is to regularly survey our staff about their experience and perceptions of research culture at RGU.  The baseline surveys we undertook over the last 12 months have been really valuable in informing a set of actions and priorities to strengthen the research culture both at a University and School level.  Future surveys will allow us to track how we are doing. 

RGU has much to be proud of in terms of its research from our work on improving the quality of drinking water in Sri Lanka to transforming the logistics supply chain in the North Sea, and from sustainable cities to long COVID and digital storytelling.  But it is not just the ‘what’ of research we should be proud of, but also the ‘how’ in terms of an environment in which all staff feel valued for their contribution to the research mission of the University.  The results of the PRES survey are both a recognition of the hard work people have put in to supporting our research students and a source of optimism and pride in the research culture that we are building at RGU.

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