The Kingston University led project is one of 20 projects funded by the HEFCE Postgraduate Support Scheme which is a £25 million publicly-funded programme.
The scheme aims to test ways of supporting progression into taught postgraduate education in England. It aims to ensure the continued success of taught postgraduate provision by working with universities and employers to stimulate participation by students who would not otherwise progress to this level. The 20 projects will support more than 2,800 students and involve a range of support activities including financial and pastoral support, mentoring and networking, curricula change, funded studentships, work placements and a variety of bursary and loan schemes.
The Kingston University led project is the largest consortium that has been funded and comprises of 11 universities (9 English, 1 Welsh and 1 Scottish) that are geographically dispersed universities across the UK. The collaborative Partners include the Universities of Brighton, Coventry, Edinburgh, Lincoln, Manchester Metropolitan, Portsmouth, Plymouth, South Wales, Teesside, Wolverhampton. Business and industry leaders and higher educational specialists are also involved.
The project entitled- Investigating the expectations and attitudes towards postgraduate taught (PGT) STEM study, and post study outcomes from the perspective of students, universities and employers to support and sustain PGT growth in the UK – A collaborative project -started in January 2014 and is due to report the majority of its findings at a National Dialogical Conference at Kingston University on 14 and 15 July 2015.
Aims and objectives of PEP
There has been a dramatic expansion in postgraduate taught study (PGT) in the UK in recent years, but this is now faltering especially amongst full and part-time British students. As a result, sustaining the participation required to meet national skill needs as well as the PGT market in the UK, has become a pressing challenge. Although there is a growing body of evidence looking at the postgraduate student experience (e.g. HEA’s PTES survey), there is still paucity of research exploring participation barriers, understanding student and employers expectations of PGT study, progression and retention, and post-study outcomes. HEFCE understand that these are important areas to research if long-term approaches to stimulating and sustaining fulltime and part-time PGT study in England (and other areas in the UK) are to be achieved. The UK Government is committed to the continued expansion of the postgraduate taught student body (Higher Education Commission, 2012), particularly in STEM subjects, in order to improve the UK’s industrial and educational competitive global position.
This project will address the neglected research areas mentioned above by looking at the expectations and attitudes towards postgraduate taught (PGT) STEM study, and post study outcomes from the perspective of students’, universities and employers across a group of institutions diverse in student body and geography, and with the input of stakeholders from different sectors. With the recent changes in the UK higher education landscape, this pilot project aims to provide valuable contributions in shaping and helping to sustain the PGT sector, at both institutional and national level.
The project structure recognises the need to deliver initiatives and strategies fit for local needs as well as national benefit. It will explore and identify how PGT study can be stimulated and sustained, to deliver practical outcomes in the limited timescale set by HEFCE, be inclusive and equitable in terms of participants, deliver value for money and leave a legacy of continuing research beyond the project to further the sector’s understanding. The project has a number of overarching aims, objectives and outcomes which include: