USW ranks among top 25% of universities for postgraduate research experience

Gabrielle Hale - PhD Student in Psychology

Psychology PhD student Gabrielle Hale

The University of South Wales (USW) has been ranked among the top 25% of universities across the UK in the latest Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES).

The annual survey, run by Advance HE, saw 83% of USW postgraduate research students say they were satisfied with their experience at the University, which is 3% higher than the global benchmark as well as the UK-wide University Alliance average.

USW also features in the top 25% of institutions for overall student satisfaction, as well as in the following areas:

  • Covid-19 pandemic – 9% above the global benchmark
  • Research Skills – 2nd highest globally of 58 institutions
  • Responsibilities – 5th highest globally of 58 institutions
  • Progression – 10th highest globally of 58 institutions

The survey reported that 76% of respondents appreciate USW’s values and response to postgraduate research student feedback, which is 15% above the global benchmark and 12% above the University Alliance benchmark; with 93% of respondents confirming that they understand the required standards for their thesis.

In Wales, USW scored 5.3% higher than the sector in terms of research skills, with 97% of respondents saying that they felt their skills in critically analysing and evaluating findings and results had developed during their programme. Social Sciences and STEM were among the discipline areas that performed best in the PRES 2022.

Dr Elaine Huntley, Graduate School Manager at USW, said: “The Graduate School offers training to postgraduate research students on generic research skills and preparing for transfer and final submission. In recent years, through the creation of the Graduate School Board, and using opportunities at events to feed back, there has been a strong focus on hearing the student voice; work on ‘closing the feedback loop’ continues with further initiatives planned for this coming year.”

Simone Hatchard is undertaking a PhD in Criminology, focusing on the use of digital forensics and the investigation of major crime in England and Wales. She said: “I felt really supported by both the Graduate School and my supervisory team during the Covid-19 pandemic. I had regular online supervisions and always felt part of a PhD community.

“During the course of my PhD I have attended various training courses designed to enhance my research skills, both through the University and the Doctoral Training Alliance, who part fund my research along with South Wales Police.

“I have received financial support from the University to enable me to present at a research conference. My Professor also arranged for me to take a short suspension from my studies to undertake a funded research assistant position. This post helped me to improve my research skills and helped me greatly when it came to analysing my own data.”

Gabrielle Hale completed her Psychology degree and MSc at USW, and is now undertaking a PhD which evaluates the mental health impact of programmes for children and young people that are delivered by charitable trusts attached to professional UK football clubs.

She added: “The support that I have received throughout my time studying the PhD has been fantastic. I have been given lots of opportunities to continue my professional development along the way, which has included being able to present my PhD findings at conferences and publish in international peer-review journals.

“Since starting the PhD, I have also been supported to develop my teaching experience. I started shadowing other lecturers during undergraduate Research Methods workshops to begin with, and over the past five years, I have built up my CV and been given progressively more teaching opportunities and responsibilities to develop my skills further. I’ve since secured a permanent lecturing position at USW and now teach on the courses that I was once a student on. It is great to be able to share my passion for research with others, and hopefully inspire other students too.”

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