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The importance of understanding the expectations and attitudes of the student body, university staff and business and industry in improving the STEM Postgraduate.

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Presentation on theme: "The importance of understanding the expectations and attitudes of the student body, university staff and business and industry in improving the STEM Postgraduate."— Presentation transcript:

1 The importance of understanding the expectations and attitudes of the student body, university staff and business and industry in improving the STEM Postgraduate Taught Student Experience Michelle Sue Morgan Rigby

2 Aims and objectives Outline the issues facing the Postgraduate Taught (qualifications by coursework) sector in the UK. Report the key findings of an HEA Individual Teaching Grant (ITG) funded project undertaken at a Post 1992 University across STEM subjects which explored some of the nationally neglected issues facing the sector. Explain how the research above informed and provided the foundation of a successful 11 institutional bid to HEFCE seeking to understand the barriers, drivers, motivations and outcomes facing PGT students as well as UK employers’ needs. Highlight funding opportunities by the HEA and HEFCE for projects targeted at supporting students, improving course design to provide students with the skills business and industry require, and institutional and national strategies that are fit for purpose in growing and sustaining the PGT market in the UK.

3 Setting the scene What is Postgraduate study? QAA suggests that Postgraduate qualifications at present can broadly be classified into two groups: those that are substantially taught (TPO) and those with a significant research component (Research). (Smith et al., 2010) Broad types of PG qualifications Doctorates by Research Professional /Taught doctorates Masters by Coursework also known as Taught Master Masters by Research Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Integrated Masters (UK) Postgraduate Diplomas and Postgraduate Certificates

4 Issues facing the PGT sector Extensive growth up to 2010 Government commitment to increasing PGT market Knowledge economy Educational market Past 2 years rapid decline especially in part-time mode and amongst ‘UK’ domiciled students Lack of knowledge and evidence for PGT behaviour although growing body of research

5 “as the bachelor’s degree becomes ubiquitous, its relative advantage in the labour market is diminishing” Wolf 2002 cited by Wakeling 2005, p. 506 Reasons for growth

6 Other possible reasons for growth For career advancement rather than self-fulfilment (Anderson et. al.,1998; Barber et. al., 2004; Stuart et.al., 2008; Morgan, 2013) UK government policies and strategies aimed at improving industrial competitive global position (DTI, 1998) through position in the global market of higher education (DfES, 2003) When downturn in economy, increase in uptake in HE Employer demand for postgraduates? Average proportion of the UK’s working population holding a postgraduate qualification has almost doubled, from 4.4% in 2001to 7.9% in 2011 (UUK, 2013) Creeping notion that PGT required for a career Employers raising the qualification bar due to pool of well qualified graduates.

7 UK qualification changes Source: statistics derived from HESA, 1996a,b, 2005, 2012b. Type of qualification awarded1994/52003/42007/82011/12 Other Higher Degrees (e.g. Taught Masters) 43.6%52.4%58.9%65.8% Doctorate8.4% 8.2%7.4% Other postgraduate qualifications (e.g. Certificates and Diplomas 48.0%39.2%32.9%26.8% Percentage Overall total 100% 90, % 182, % 202, % 264,090 Other higher degree includes masters degrees obtained/not obtained primarily through research, Masters in Teaching and Learning, pre- registration masters degrees leading towards obtaining eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body and postgraduate bachelors degrees at level M. Other postgraduate qualifications includes supervised research at level D, E and L for institutional credits, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) at level M and E, other postgraduate qualifications obtained primarily through research, fellowships, diplomas and certificates at level M, Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) 5, professional taught qualifications at level M other than a masters degrees, Level M Diplomas in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector, and other taught qualifications at level M. Postgraduate conferment in the UK in 1994/5 to 2011/12 ‘Other Higher Degrees ‘ have increased at the expense of ‘Other PG’ qualifications % Change between 03/4 and 11/ % -1.0% -12.4% +82,005

8 PG expansion- International comparison Source: Morgan (2013) +17.9% +2.5% +19.5% +19.1% Note: 2003/4-2010/ %

9 UK retraction in PG numbers All UK PG numbers –2011/12 = 568, % on 2010/11 –2010/11 = 588, % on 2009/10 –2009/10 = 578,705 (HESA, 2013) Mode HESA 2004/5 HESA 2009/10 HESA 2011/12 Full-time226,060298,255309,425 Part-time306,570280,450259,080 All UK FT and PT PG numbers PT mode reduced by 7.6% (HESA, 2013)

10 Source: HESA, UK, EU and Non-EU participation in UK HEIs in 2010/11 and 2011/ %

11 UK Science Engineering, Maths and Technology PGT and PGRHESA 2010/11 HESA 2011/2 % change Computing22,48019, % Engineering and Technology44,95541, % Mathematics5,8655,925+1% Source: HESA, PGT and PGR Full-time % change between 2010/11 and 2011/11 Part-time % change between 2010/11 and 2011/11 Computing-18%-9 Engineering and Technology-6%-7% Mathematics+5%-10%

12 Full-time and Part-time changes between 2010/11 and 2011/12 in PGT/PGR ‘STEM’ United Kingdom HEIsFull-time Part-time Postgraduate Study PGT/PGR2010/112011/12 Change % 2010/112011/12 Change % Medicine & dentistry % % Subjects allied to medicine % % Biological sciences % % Veterinary science % % Agriculture & related subjects % % Physical sciences % % Mathematical sciences % % Computer science % % Engineering & technology % % Architecture, building & planning % % Source: HESA, 2013

13 Key findings of an HEA STEM ITG Report Conducted over a year, 8 schools, 233 completed questionnaires (90% of attendance at Sept Orientation, focus group Sample = 48% UK dom and 35% Non-EU dom, 42.7% =F and 57.3%=M, 47%= 1 st and 53%= 2 nd generation,36.5%= work and 39.5% =work Major funding issues Primary funding method for 2/5s of sample= parents Entry route, generational and domiciled differences Study anxiety 2/3s of sample anxious but domiciled and entry route differences Women and those coming from work less likely to believe had very strong study skills Expectation of quality increased with age and generational status (first expected higher) Belief employers value a PGT qualification more than UG but evidence suggests not the case (e.g. Connor et.al., 2010). See hard copy report or access via

14 Key issues from the report Entry route (work or uni) Cultural capital Different skill base Outcome expectations Reasons and value Student belief gives advantage in workplace Employers state no indicator of leadership or work wisdom (Connor et al, 2010: Leitch, 2006) Study and life demands Balancing life demands with study modes available Poor support for different modes of study Different needs and expectations to UGs Greater pressure at this level than UG Commuting impacts on retention Expectations and experience of study Need to define PGT attributes as different from UG Need toolkits for support (HEFCE developing) Feedback needs to be fit for purpose Less tolerance at this level of poor feedback Face to face One size fits all teaching problematic Finance Fee levels important Poor access to funding especially for UK dom and 1 st generation Reliance on ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’

15 HEFCE funded PG Scheme Grant pot of £25 million Test options for finance and activity to support PGT study Support transitions Postgraduate Experience Project PEP – 11 UK institutions, STEM

16 Postgraduate Experience Project Project title Investigating the expectations and attitudes towards postgraduate taught (PGT) STEM study, and post study outcomes from the perspective of students’, universities and employers to support and sustain PGT growth in the UK – A collaborative project The broad project outcomes are to: Obtain local and national baseline data on student perceptions, motivations, expectations and experiences of PGT study as well as exploring the enablers and barriers to study through a range of data collection processes; Obtain local and national baseline data on university and employers perceptions, attitudes, expectations and experiences of PGT study; Look at the big picture by drawing out broad themes through pragmatic research and by ‘sewing’ the different strands of data together to create a collage of knowledge allowing further detailed research to be undertaken; Achieve a practical understanding and deliver practical and pragmatic outcomes; Recognise the research limitations for the project.

17 Collaborators

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20 Thank you for listening Any Michelle Morgan Sue Rigby Anderson, D., Johnson, R. and Milligan, B. with Stephanou, A. (1998) Access to PG courses: Opportunities and obstacles. Higher Education Council. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing service. Barber, l., Pollard, E., Millmore, B. and Gerova, V. (2004) Higher Degrees of Freedom: the value of postgraduate study. Report 410. South Coast: IES. Connor, H., Forbes, P. And Docherty, D. (2010) Talent Fishing- what businesses want from postgraduates London: DBIS. DfES (2003) The Future of Higher Education. London: HMSO. Higher Education Statistics Agency (2013a) Table 1 - All students by HE institution, level of study, mode of study and domicile 2011/12. Online. Available at: (Accessed 23 February 2013). Morgan, M. (2013a) Where has Postgraduate Study Grown and What are the implications for the UK? An International Comparative Analysis, Paper presented at UKCGE Annual Conference, ‘Master Class: the changing face of PGT in a research-intensive environment’, Birmingham, 1-2 July. Smith, A., Bradshaw, T., Burnett, K. Docherty, D., Purcell, W. and Worthington, S. (2010) One Step Beyond: Making the most of postgraduate education. London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Stuart, M., Lido, C., Morgan, M., Solomon, L. and Akroyd, K. (2008) Widening participation to postgraduate study: decisions, deterrents and creating success York: Higher Education Academy. Universities UK (2013) The funding environment for universities: An assessment, London: UUK Wakeling, P. (2005) La noblesse d’etat anglasie? Social class and progression to postgraduate study,British Journal of Sociology of Education. 26 (4),


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