The research culture at Essex is really important to me so I was delighted to see the recent data about doctoral awards at the University of Essex which place us firmly among the best in the country when it comes to postgraduate research (PGR) provision.

According to the most recent Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, we’re in the top ten - seventh to be precise! - of all the 120+ universities in the UK for the number of doctoral awards we issued per member of staff in 2019-20.  And we’re first amongst the 38 UK universities that describe themselves as 'research-intensive' - outperforming the likes of the London School of Economics, Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick, Durham, and others. Last year, we also awarded a record number of doctorates in the University's history.

Why do these figures matter? The doctoral award per member of staff metric and the number of doctorates we issue, both used in the Research Excellence Framework, give us a sense of the quality of postgraduate researcher, students’ educational provision and of how dynamic and supportive the overall research environment is at our university. A high proportion of doctorates to academic member of staff gives us confidence that we provide the best care, support, and experience for our postgraduate researchers, and offer research and career training that really makes a difference, even in difficult times.

Trying to put a face on the “we” behind this achievement I think of a whole range of people - from our brilliant supervisors that we celebrate through our Supervisor of the Year award, through Graduate Directors and Graduate Administrators, departmental, faculty, and University leadership, and hundreds of professional services staff that support our postgraduate researchers, institutional PGR team members, research and career development trainers, subject librarians, student wellbeing officers, Student Union officers,… all of us who make up the Essex postgraduate research community.

We acknowledge and celebrate our PGR community’s achievements though our annual PGR Celebration event. Please join us on Wednesday 12 May, 5-7pm. Please book to come along to join our celebration.

As with any top ranking, our leading position in doctoral awards per member of staff also presents a welcome challenge: to continue to support and continue to innovate. We have many projects in mind – from those relating to increasing inclusivity and diversity in postgraduate research, through updating our Proficio training offer to prepare our graduates for a variety of careers and sharing their expertise with a range of beneficiaries, to projects supporting the wellbeing of PGR students. I always welcome suggestions and bright new ideas about how to create the best research-educational environment for our postgraduate researchers from anyone in our Essex community. Please feel free to get in touch by email!