The Association of Irish Careers Services (AHECS) Postgraduate Research Students Task Group have published a valuable report using data from PGR StudentSurvey.ie (the Irish Survey of Student Engagement for Postgraduate Research Students).
Their report, An Exploration of Career & Skills Development among Arts Humanities & Social Science PGRs in Ireland, provides a snapshot of Funding, Motivations, Career Aspirations and Development Opportunities of Postgraduate Research Students (PGRs) in Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Survey responses from Arts & Humanities, Social Science, Journalism and Information, Business Administration and Law (AHSS) were compared to those of Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics (STEM) PGRs.
You can download the full report here.
The Postgraduate Research Task Group of AHECS (Association of Higher Education Career Services) questioned if the significant investment in STEM research over the past twenty years, has led to a different research experience for AHSS PGRs. The group therefore very much welcomed the opportunity from StudentSurvey.ie to examine their anonymized data sets from the PGR 2018 pilot and 2019 surveys through the prism of career and skills development. The first step focused on responses which have direct relevance to the funding, motivations, career aspirations and development opportunities of all PGRs. This was followed by analysis and quantification of the differences between AHSS and STEM. As there was very little difference in outcomes between the 2018 and 2019 surveys, as both dealt with largely the same group of students within a short time span, it was decided to focus on the 2019 data set.
In terms of notable differences, AHSS PGRs are more likely to be self-funded, motivated by passion for their subject, to aspire to an academic career (despite the relatively low numbers of such positions) and reported less opportunity for teamwork. We were surprised to learn that the percentage of PGRs taking part in an internship, having experience in technology transfer or availing of careers advice was low in both cohorts. We hope that the findings in this paper will inform best practice in professional skills development and will shine a light on what career interventions are required to support, in particular, the employability of AHSS PGRs.