The WRDTP is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Our core objective in this area is to offer an inclusive and nurturing doctoral experience where students from a range of backgrounds are supported to realise their potential as social science researchers.
All seven of our partner institutions are members of the National Education Opportunities Network and have taken institutional-level interventions to address research student inequalities.
Our work in this area
Responding to evidence of the under-representation of Black British students at PhD level, we have worked with the Stuart Hall Foundation since 2020 to offer 2 ring-fenced studentships each year for projects that align with the mission of the Foundation and the legacy of Stuart Hall.
In recent years, as part of an ESRC-pilot scheme we have offered Summer Research Experience Placements for Black British Undergraduate students. These placements have provided eligible Undergraduate students the opportunity to undertake a short research project alongside an academic supervisor whilst also benefitting from peer mentoring.
We are collaborating with the Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education, a Research England/Office for Students funded network that is taking steps to tackle ethnic inequalities in research student recruitment, and transform the experience of research students from Black British backgrounds. In particular, we have offered funding to support student networking and mentoring, via our Student-led Networks and Events Scheme.
Finally, we have transformed our studentship processes to place a stronger emphasis on an applicant’s potential for research; and to ensure that all applicants have clear and useful information to enable them to submit high quality studentship applications.
Our priorities for the future
- Nurture future talent
- Demystify PGR study
- Focus on recruitment practices
- Enhance the on-course experience
- Support future destinations
Inequalities in access to higher education are well known, and progression onto PhD amongst specific under-represented groups is low, due to a range of factors. We will seek to address pipeline issues by raising awareness of research opportunities amongst under-represented groups.
Research suggests that success in PGR application processes can rely on tacit knowledge. We will seek to provide accessible and timely information about our application processes, and working with partners actively promote clear guidance to potential applicants from under-represented groups.
YCEDE analysis indicates that UK graduates from minoritised backgrounds are under-represented in PGR communities across UK universities. We have already revised our studentship application forms and assessment criteria in order to focus on potential for research. We will continue to keep our application material and processes under review, in order reflect best practice in partner institutions. We will ensure that all reviewers of our studentship applications undertake EDI training in order to minimise unconscious bias.
We recognise the demands that PhD study places on research students’ mental health and wellbeing, especially for students from under-represented backgrounds. In order to support an inclusive and nurturing doctoral experience, we will work with supervisors to establish clear expectations for PhD projects; work with partner institutions to raise awareness of institutional wellbeing support mechanisms; and work with our Student Forum to facilitate the development of student networks and communities.
We are committed to equipping our students for a broad range of careers within and beyond academia. We will offer a diverse and flexible range of ‘Research in Practice’ placement opportunities, and engage with external partners and WRDTP graduates to raise awareness of the variety of career opportunities available to social sciences researchers.