At Loughborough University we have almost 1500 postgraduate research (PGR) students based in all of our academic Schools. However, sometimes the nature of PGR is not always well understood by people supporting these students as a whole. In addition, a distinction is not always made between PGRs, undergraduates and postgraduate taught students (for example, PGRs do not have semesters, term-times, modules, lectures and exams) which can impact on the support given.
To help build a better understanding of the doctoral experience, on 7th September the Graduate School invited Professional Service staff and Loughborough Students Union to an bespoke event called ‘A Day in the Life of a Postgraduate Researcher’. During the event key differences between undergraduate, postgraduate taught and PGR programmes were shared as well as the nature of doctoral research and the potential challenges (academic and personal) PGRs can face. Attendees also heard first hand from three current final year PGRs, I shared results from Loughborough’s Doctoral Well-Being and Support Survey and Dr Kathryn North emphasised how important PGRs are to Loughborough University (and beyond!) for a variety of reasons.
The event certainly prompted a lot of discussion and many attendees left with several actions to share with their colleagues on how to better support PGRs. Feedback also indicated that the event should be repeated for those previously unable to attend – so that’s exactly what we plan to do!