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Widening Participation and career planning among taught PG students

March 2024

Taught postgraduate students from Widening Participation (WP) backgrounds are less likely to engage with careers preparation provision than non-WP students, shows this study funded by the Jisc careers research grant

Key findings

  • Non-WP and WP students have similar career planning needs, slightly different motivations, and very different career planning behaviours.
  • Intrinsic motivating factors are more dominant than extrinsic motivating factors in making the decision to do a PGT award.
  • PGTs' opportunity awareness (capability to research job opportunities) is lower than their self-awareness (what career they want to go on to).
  • 71% of all PGTs are working alongside their studies (c.18.5% are in full time employment).
  • Nearly 7 in 10 of all PGTs currently in work want to go on to secure a professional role.
  • 11% of all PGTs want to go on and do a doctorate within five years of finishing their postgraduate award.
  • WP PGTs do not wish to seek volunteering opportunities, nor set up their own business.
  • WP status of PGTs has a statistically significant relationship with careers provision engagement.
  • International PGTs are more likely to attend careers events than home domiciled PGTs.
  • There is no statistical difference between WP and non-WP PGT students in careers support engagement provided within programme.
  • PGTs who have caring responsibilities and/or are first in family to secure a HE award are most likely to engage with career support provision within programme.
  • PGTs who engage with career preparation provision value the service more highly than those who do not engage with career preparation provision.
  • Business and Law Faculty and Science and Engineering students engaged with the careers service provision more than PGTs in other faculties.
  • The biggest barriers of engagement with careers preparation activities are WP PGTs who are first in family to secure a HE award and those with caring responsibilities.
  • All PGTs want a careers service provision that is accessible to them and recognises that they are at different stages of the career trajectory, offering exploratory, life wide skills developments and that centres them in the provision, rather than a 'one size fits all' approach with 'chaotic' messaging.
  • Communications strategies & targeted support needs to recognise diverse needs but not adopt deficit positioning of WP students, who are work-ready (based on self-awareness, less so on opportunity awareness), but in some cases experience, 'imposter syndrome' and ¬†confidence issues.

The key findings summarised above relate to the empirical results of the study only and cannot be extrapolated to the general non-WP and WP PGT population.

Download the full report

The career planning motivations and behaviours of taught postgraduate students from Widening Participation and non-Widening Participation backgrounds: a cross institutional study

  • File type
    PDF
  • Number of pages in document
    76  pages
  • File size
    1.31Mb

Download the full report

Download PDF file The career planning motivations and behaviours of taught postgraduate students from Widening Participation and non-Widening Participation backgrounds: a cross institutional study

About the study

While there is extensive research into the employability of first-degree graduates, there is comparatively little for postgraduate employability research. This project seeks to provide a contribution to the sector, in comparing career planning motivations and behaviours of PGT students across five UK higher education institutions.

The aim of this report is to explore whether there are differences in the career planning motivations and behaviours of WP and non-WP PGTs.

This research was funded by Jisc's careers research grant - if you're a careers professional planning to undertake research, you may be eligible for funding of up to £5,000.

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