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In 2013 the UK funding bodies commissioned the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) and the University of Derby International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) to undertake research to explore how prospective postgraduate students, particularly those who have spent time away from higher education, make decisions about postgraduate study (PGT). This report builds on the findings of ‘Understanding the information needs of postgraduate taught students and how these can be met’ (International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate), published in 2013 .

The research undertaken by CRAC and iCeGS identified that:

  • prospective PGT students are a diverse and complex group and as a result approach decision making in a range of different ways
  • prospective PGT students who had spent some time outside higher education sometimes find it more difficult to access the information they needed
  • prospective PGT students were typically interested in very local and programme-specific information about the courses that they were exploring
  • prospective PGT students need to be able to identify if study is practical and possible and require information which assures them of this i.e. funding, applications procedures, attendance
  • prospective PGT students found information related to safety and security (for international students), course or departmental reputation, expected time commitment, and career outcomes for graduates from specific programmes most difficult to find
  • prospective PGT students believed that most of the information that they needed to make their decisions was available somewhere but was not always easily found
  • prospective PGT students desired contact with staff who can provide tailored responses to individual queries is important to prospective PGT students.

The UK funding bodies have used this research to develop guidance to providers of postgraduate taught education ‘What information do prospective postgraduate students need?’, to invite them to enhance any areas of PGT information provision that could be improved.

See the associated guidance, also published in April 2014.