Doctoral students matter a great deal for improving the diversity of higher education. They are an important gate through which most must pass on their way to academic jobs and the professoriate.
If we can diversify our doctoral cohort, and ensure that students at this level thrive, we can diversify the more senior levels of academia. This has knock-on effects on the shape of future research fields, and for the ability of undergraduate and masters students to see themselves represented in their lecturers.
In this short paper, Michael Sanders, Emma Stockdale and Shibeal O’Flaherty report the results of a survey administered to 108 doctoral students in the UK between June and September 2023, which aimed to understand the lived experience and wellbeing of doctoral students.
The authors present a mixt of findings:
- Postgraduate research students have worse wellbeing in general than their peers in taught programmes.
- Postgraduate research students have fairly high burnout scores.
- Age appears to be a protective factor for postgraduate research student wellbeing.
- Parents’ highest level of education was a poor predictor of wellbeing, burnout and efficacy.