Skip to main content

Improved support for mental health and wellbeing revealed as priority in latest Postgraduate Research Experience Survey

03 Nov 2021 | Advance HE 2021 report from Advance HE examines the key findings from a dataset which includes the views of almost 40,000 postgraduate researchers (PGRs) from 94 institutions.
  • Support for PGR mental health and wellbeing is clear priority for sector 

  • Overall satisfaction remains high but falls slightly 

  • PGRs call for more support from supervisors to help manage professional development 

  • Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact on the PGR experience in 2021 

Although overall satisfaction with the postgraduate research experience has fallen slightly in 2021 to 79%, down from 80% in 2020, almost eight in 10 PGRs are satisfied, representing a high level of overall satisfaction across the sector in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2021 – Sector results report published by Advance HE. 

However, Covid-19 has continued to have an impact in 2021 with only 63% agreeing that support for health and wellbeing met their needs during the pandemic. The top reason for considering leaving their programme was mental health problems, and those who agreed their institution’s support met their needs were less likely to have considered leaving than those who disagreed.  

Professional development has seen the largest decrease in satisfaction in the 2021 survey with fewer PGRs feeling able to manage their own professional development and calling for more support from supervisors and more tailored careers support for post-PhD careers. 

Although overall satisfaction across the sector has fallen by just 1% in 2021, it is the first time since the survey began in 2007 that the score has fallen below 80%.

“It is concerning that fewer than two thirds of PGRs agreed that institutional support for health and wellbeing met their needs. Improving support in this area is key to improving overall satisfaction and retention, making mental wellbeing a clear priority for the sector as we learn to live with Covid-19.

“Feeling that their institution values and responds to their feedback is one of the areas which typically receives the lowest scores from PGRs, so learning from and sustaining the measures institutions put in place to capture and act upon the PGR student voice immediately after the beginning of the pandemic could improve overall satisfaction levels.”

Jonathan Neves, Head of Business Intelligence and Surveys at Advance HE

The student voice: Findings from Advance HE's student experience surveys Join us on 10 December as we share key findings on student mental health and wellbeing from the UK Engagement Survey (UKES), the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES). Find out more

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

Keep up to date - Sign up to Advance HE communications

Our monthly newsletter contains the latest news from Advance HE, updates from around the sector, links to articles sharing knowledge and best practice and information on our services and upcoming events. Don't miss out, sign up to our newsletter now.

Sign up to our enewsletter