New Deal for Postgraduate Research - Call for input

Closed 18 May 2022

Opened 23 Feb 2022


The New Deal for Postgraduate Research (“the New Deal”) is a long-term piece of work that aims to improve the experience and quality of postgraduate research training in the UK.

In this engagement exercise, we are focusing primarily on doctoral training (for example, working towards a PhD), but we welcome comments on other research-focused training and qualifications.

The government’s Research & Development (R&D) Roadmap first committed to the creation of the New Deal. In July 2021 the government published its R&D People and Culture Strategy.

The strategy aims to ensure that the UK has an outstanding research culture that truly supports discovery, diversity and innovation and that values everyone’s contributions. It seeks to enable varied and diverse careers that bring excitement and recognition, allowing talent and ideas to flow freely between academia, business and other sectors.

The R&D People and Culture Strategy set out that the New Deal would:

  • consider how postgraduate research students are supported and developed, practically and financially
  • consider how best to prepare postgraduate research students for rewarding careers, and address factors that contribute to precarity in early career research
  • enable a more diverse range of people to consider careers in research
  • consider how to attract and retain talented people within the sector and support the flow of people and ideas in the R&D system across the world.

The government’s ambition is that the New Deal should apply to as many postgraduate research students as possible.  


Doctoral training

Doctoral training is a programme that aims to support an individual to earn a doctoral degree such as a PhD or an EngD. Doctoral training may have taught elements, and is focused on the development of original research.

Level 7 Apprenticeship

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a Level 7 apprenticeship is work-based training programme leading to a qualification equivalent to a research Masters.  The levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are specified in the Regulated Qualifications Framework; the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework applies in Scotland.

Postgraduate Research Student

For the purposes of this exercise, by postgraduate research student we mean any person working towards a Level 7 or 8 qualification in the Regulated Qualifications Framework (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or the Levels 11 and 12 in the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework. This includes common research degrees such a research Masters, PhD, DPhil etc.

Postgraduate Research Training

A programme with the aim of awarding a recognised qualification at either a Level 7 or 8 qualification  in the Regulated Qualifications Framework (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or the Levels 11 and 12 in the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework.   See also: doctoral training.

Postgraduate Research Masters degree

On the Regulated Qualifications Framework (which applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) a Masters degree is a level 7 qualification; on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework it is level 11 qualification. The New Deal for Postgraduate Research is concerned only with Postgraduate Research Masters degrees.


For the purposes of this exercise, a university is any higher education provider. This might be an organisation with Research Degree Awarding Powers (known as “RDAPs”); but may also include institutions that have arrangements in place for partners to award research degrees.

Why your views matter

We want to ensure that everyone in the research and innovation community has the opportunity to contribute to, and shape our thinking on, the New Deal.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • current, previous and prospective postgraduate research students
  • supervisors
  • staff supporting research training
  • university mission groups
  • representative bodies
  • funders
  • employers
  • universities
  • others with an interest in postgraduate research training.

For the purposes of this exercise, by “universities” we mean all higher education providers. See the glossary above for full details. 

This exercise is conducted by UKRI, but we welcome responses from and about all postgraduate research training in the UK, including where there is a different or no source of funding.

Different activities are already contributing to some aspects of the New Deal. Many postgraduate research students, supervisory teams, grant holders and employers have already given us their thoughts through:

  • ESRC’s Review of the PhD in the Social Sciences
  • EPSRC’s Review of EPSRC-funded doctoral education
  • UK Council of Graduate Education’s (UKCGE) UK Research Supervision Survey, which was supported by UKRI and The Wellcome Trust.

UKRI is also engaging with a wide range of stakeholders through other means. This includes, for example, the upcoming engagement on the future of AHRC’s doctoral provision.

Further information on the government’s strategies, the New Deal and projects supporting this work is available on

In this exercise, we welcome views on what the goals of postgraduate research training should be and set out an approach to the New Deal for comment. We also ask how we should engage with the community going forward.

The deadline for responses is 17 May 2022.

We will review all responses and publish a summary of our findings.



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