The findings of the final I-Graduate report on the information needs of postgraduate taught (PGT) students include the following:
- Current and potential PGT students think that the information they need to help them choose a PGT course is already available somewhere, but the sources are scattered and sometimes out-of-date (even on institutional websites).
- Information derived from a new survey of PGT students would not specifically meet the information needs of prospective students. Qualitative information at course level is viewed as more important in choosing a PGT course.
- There is strong interest from potential students in a web-portal that collates information on PGT courses in one place together with information about institutions, the application process, course costs, financial support, immigration regulations and processes, and accommodation. Ideally, the web-portal would incorporate feedback from current or past PGT students about the courses they took, similar to the way that ‘Trip Advisor’ includes comments.
- There is scope for institutions to improve the way that information about PGT courses is provided on their websites and also, wherever possible, to enable potential students to speak with someone directly connected to the course they are interested in – either a course director or a current or past student who could share their first-hand experiences. Prospective students are particularly interested in speaking to an impartial source, rather than a ‘student ambassador’.
The report also notes that students already within the higher education system (such as undergraduate students in their final year) are able to access information about PGT courses from tutors and careers advisors, whereas prospective students who have taken time out and are considering a return to higher education are likely to be at a disadvantage. However, due to the challenging timescales of the work undertaken, this latter group was found to be hard to reach effectively and so fell outside the scope of the study.
The findings of the parallel study by NatCen into the feasibility of conducting a survey of PGT students concluded that, due to the small cohort sizes of many PGT courses, data would not be publishable at course level for the majority of PGT programmes. This finding confirmed that a survey of PGT students would not be an appropriate route for providing useful information to potential PGT students.