In 2013 HEFCE published two pieces of research into prospective postgraduate student information needs on behalf of the UK funding bodies:
- International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate) 2013 ‘Understanding the information needs of postgraduate taught students and how these can be met’
- NatCen Social Research 2013 ‘The feasibility of conducting a national survey of postgraduate students’
The research identified that the information postgraduate taught students look for is often fragmented and at times out of date. This work also concluded that a national student survey of postgraduate students would be unlikely to provide the information sought by prospective postgraduate taught students at this time.
As a result, the four funding bodies commissioned The Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) to undertake further work to help support providers in identifying ways of enhancing the information which they provide for prospective postgraduate students.
In April 2014 we published ‘Understanding how people choose to pursue taught postgraduate study’ (CRAC 2014). This research demonstrated that prospective postgraduate taught students are a diverse and complex group with specific information needs. The research identified that there are a number of key factors that need to be in place before a prospective postgraduate taught student can reach the application stage, which can be supported by information (for example, funding, course costs, course content).
Guidance for institutions
The UK funding bodies have developed guidance informed by the research, inviting providers to enhance, where necessary the information they provide in this area. This guidance is designed to support providers in addressing the following:
- Information to provide: The themes or types of information that prospective postgraduate taught students want, particularly those re-entering higher education after a period away from study.
- Information delivery: Aspects of the design and communication of information that may facilitate prospective students through their decision-making journeys.
Support for prospective students
As announced in our Circular letter 16/2015, prospective postgraduate taught students are now supported through a new online resource.
Steps to Postgraduate Study is sponsored by the UK funding bodies. It provides information for UK, EU and international students who are making decisions about going straight on to postgraduate taught study or returning after a period away from education. The website anticipates the questions students will wish to ask, and points them to where they can find the answers.
The text for the site is available under an Open Government Licence. If you wish to use the material please follow the guidelines outlined in the licence. Note the text also provide links to third-party sites and content, which may be subject to other terms and conditions imposed by the third-party owner of the content. We are not responsible for content on third-party sites.