Westminster Higher Education Forum

For booking-related queries or information on speaking please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk, or contact us: +44 (0)1344 864796.

Next steps for postgraduate research in the UK

Morning, Monday, 15th April 2024

This conference will assess the future of postgraduate research in the UK.

It will bring policymakers, regulators and stakeholders together to examine the way forward for PGR in light of UKRI’s New Deal for Postgraduate Research, published in September 2023, which outlines aims for widening participation, alongside maintaining the attractiveness and internationally competitive standards of UK PGR.

Sessions in the agenda will examine sector responses to the UKRI’s call for input on the New Deal last year, including calls for improvement in supervision and funding structures, as well as flexibility and avenues for employment for those in postgraduate study with concerns raised over the difficulty of advancing careers in research.

It will be opportunity to assess approaches to improving PGR links with industry, in light of government initiatives to encourage the commercialisation of research, outlined in the Autumn Statement and the Government’s response to the Independent Review of University Spin-out Companies in November 2023.

Delegates will also discuss further developments relating to PhD and research degree funding and training, including reviews that have taken place across the UK’s research councils.

Further sessions will consider priorities and strategic options for maintaining the UK’s internationally competitive standing as a centre for postgraduate study and research, including attracting international talent to the UK.

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with: Professor Christopher Smith, Chief Executive, UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council; Ewan Nicholas, Senior Policy Advisor, UKRI; and Francesca Long, Head of Training and Talent Development, The Faraday Institution.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • New Deal for PGR: assessing responses to the call for input - key priorities
  • funding: finance structures for PGR - increasing the stipend spend for PhD students - investment in doctoral training programmes - changes to the distribution of training grants - role of the Postgraduate Research Funders and Providers Forum
  • engagement: approaches to widening participation, including distanced and part-time courses - proposals for PhD flexibility and multi-disciplinary programmes
  • support: priorities for students and research departments across the sector - enhancing research supervision and the student experience - increasing the accessibility of research careers - transitioning to the workplace
  • partnerships: strengthening relationships between research departments and employers
  • wider impact: priorities for the commercialisation of research - embedding research in wider society - attracting international talent - maintaining the UK’s global research standing

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from DfE; Ofsted; DBT; DAERA, NI; Department for the Economy, NI; DESNZ; DWP; and IPO.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Christopher Smith

Chief Executive, UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council

Ewan Nicholas

Senior Policy Advisor, UKRI

Francesca Long

Head of Training and Talent Development, The Faraday Institution

Keynote Speakers

Ewan Nicholas

Senior Policy Advisor, UKRI

Francesca Long

Head of Training and Talent Development, The Faraday Institution

Professor Christopher Smith

Chief Executive, UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council


Professor Paul Manners

Director, National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement


Ceri Nursaw

Chief Executive, National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education

Nicholas Chukwudike Anakwue

Postgraduate Research Representation Assistant, Queen Mary Students’ Union

Aimee Yeoman

Professional Doctorate in Education, York St John University

Dr Karen Clegg

Director, Research Super-Vision Project, University of York

Dr Benjamin Miles

Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Spin Up Science

Dr Nigel Eady

Director of Research Talent, King's College London

Professor Carenza Lewis

Professor for the Public Understanding of Research, University of Lincoln

Professor Amaka Offiah

Faculty of Health Director for Wellbeing and EDI, Chair of Paediatric Musculoskeletal Imaging and Honorary Consultant Paediatric Radiologist, University of Sheffield

Dr Rebekah Smith McGloin

Director, Research Culture and Environment, Nottingham Trent University

Joanna Hurry

Disability and Employment Specialist, Joanna Hurry Consultancy

Dr Irit Opher

Vice President of Research, Verbit

Professor Lindsay O’Dell

Director, Graduate School, Open University