Enhancing recruitment of Postgraduate Researchers (PhDs) – completing October 2020

We know applying for a PhD can be complex, daunting, challenging and exciting all at the same time. Rather than a purely rational process, choices are shaped by a series of conscious and unconscious decisions taken over a period of years.

Whilst many universities have a well-developed evidence base about the decision-making journeys and influencers of undergraduate students, less evidence is available and being used for postgraduate study, especially so at the postgraduate research level. This unique collaborative insight project will generate fresh qualitative intelligence to help teams approach recruitment in a smarter, more effective way.

Why join the project?

Smarter strategy
Inform your PGR recruitment strategy and enhance the effectiveness of your marketing, communications and engagement with prospective postgraduate researchers
New ideas
Identify opportunities for new programmes or initiatives that could better support postgraduate researchers’ decision-making journeys

Underpin the business case
Provide an evidence base to secure the necessary funding for new work/initiatives
Engage stakeholders
Offer insight to enable your team to engage colleagues across the institution (e.g. faculties, alumni) in a joined-up approach to working with prospective postgraduate researchers

What will the project explore?

  • What is the decision-making journey and process for postgraduate research applicants?
  • What are the key drivers of decision-making?
  • What influences decision-making and choices?
  • What is the impact of a university’s reputation vs specific departments or academic?
  • How does decision-making differ across the different routes/types of PhD? (e.g. specific centres, advertised funded programmes, student crafting with academics)
  • What role does funding play in decisions and how is this navigated?
  • How do experiences differ for those from widening access backgrounds? (Specifically students from BAME and lower socio-economic backgrounds)

How does it work?

Alterline’s unique collaborative research model brings universities together to work on common challenges and build communities of innovative practice. By taking part you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Share ideas and build links with other institutions
  • Save time and resource with Alterline’s full-service research support
  • Gain detailed insights from the full strategic research report and easily implement actions from the practical recommendations
  • Easily share high level insights with your key stakeholders from summary documents and presentations.

We will:

  1. Start the process with a workshop with the collaborating partners to share views and shape the research
  2. Conduct a desk review to support the project
  3. Design a qualitative interview guide and circulate it for comment
  4. Conduct exploratory depth interviews with 20 to 30 potential/current PHD students
  5. Based on the initial findings from the depth interviews, design and run an online qualitative research community and expand our sample to 40 to 50 people
  6. Complement the qualitative findings with quantitative data gathered through our partnership with Find a PHD and their Future PhD Student Survey
  7. Undertake detailed analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data
  8. Provide you with a strategic research report and set of practical recommendations
  9. Run a concluding collaborative workshop online in late October 2020 to discuss the results and share action ideas with you.

 How much does it cost?

Joining this collaboration now means you will have access to the valuable insight report and practical recommendations immediately for just £5,950 (excl. VAT), a fraction of the cost of commissioning individual research, giving you superb value for money. You and your stakeholders will also be able to attend the October online workshop to discuss the results, network and share ideas to put the insight into action.

Find out more and join
If you are interested in finding about more about the project and joining contact Sharon Steele, Client Communities Manager at sharon.steele@alterline.co.uk.