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Research Councils UK logo Excellence with Impact


RCUK welcomes the recommendations made by One Step Beyond: Making the most of postgraduate education

31 March 2010

Research Councils UK (RCUK) welcomes the report: One Step Beyond: Making the most of postgraduate education by Professor Adrian Smith and will consider the recommendations carefully.

RCUK endorses the report finding that postgraduate education in the UK is a great asset and world-leading in many areas. To ensure the UK retains this position we need to continue to encourage people to train at postgraduate level. RCUK is pleased that a number of the recommendations refer to the important role of the Research Councils in postgraduate education.

Much of the activity conducted by RCUK already supports the recommendations made in this report. In particular RCUK:

  • is helping to build better understanding of career destinations of postgraduate researchers, their career progression and the various economic and social impacts they achieve
  • has developed postgraduate funding mechanisms that allow flexibility to higher education institutions (HEI's) to offer longer postgraduate courses including 4-year courses in certain strategic and interdisciplinary areas
  • has stimulated a step-change in the provision of a broad range of transferable skills training for postgraduate researchers to ensure that HEI's embrace transferable skills fully in their training programmes. RCUK remains committed to this agenda and is keen to support a transition to embedding this provision in normal business
  • funds the Vitae Programme which provides careers advice to postgraduate researchers and helps drive HEI's to provide their postgraduates with the employability skills they need to succeed
  • has taken the lead in developing Doctoral Training Centres many of which cover interdisciplinary areas.

RCUK is pleased that this report highlights many of it’s achievements that have helped establish the UK as a world-leading destination for research training. RCUK will continue to support excellent researchers to ensure the UK maintains a world leading position.

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Further information

Jane Wakefield
RCUK Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592

Notes for editors

  1. Research Councils UK (RCUK) plays a leading role in ensuring the supply of highly skilled postgraduate researchers. These researchers support the world-class research base of the UK and those sectors of the economy and society where high-level research and specialist expertise drives innovation. To support both excellence in research training and the strategic needs of the UK, RCUK has developed common approaches to funding for postgraduate research. RCUK support for postgraduate researchers:
    • funds the training of students in multidisciplinary research environments with critical mass and opportunities to benefit from networks of researchers nationally and internationally
    • enables responsiveness to emerging strategic skills needs and priorities
    • encourages more structured content in PhD programmes particularly in theme based research centres of networks
    • funds up to four years of full time study (or part-time equivalent) where necessary
    • embeds transferable skills within programmes with particular emphasis on user-led skills e.g. enterprise, public engagement and policy development
    • encourages partnerships with non-academic partners through collaborative studentships.

  2. RCUK is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils. We invest annually around £3 billion in research. Our focus is on excellence with impact. We nurture the highest quality research, as judged by international peer review providing the UK with a competitive advantage. Global research requires we sustain a diversity of funding approaches, fostering international collaborations, and providing access to the best facilities and infrastructure, and locating skilled researchers in stimulating environments. Our research achieves impact – the demonstrable contribution to society and the economy made by knowledge and skilled people. To deliver impact, researchers and businesses need to engage and collaborate with the public, business, government and the third sector.

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

    • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
    • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    • Medical Research Council (MRC);
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).