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RCUK Report confirms the vital role of doctoral graduates within UK businesses

The Impact of doctoral careers report states that over three quarters of UK employers believe that losing doctoral graduates from their workforce would have a major impact on their business and one in five consider doctoral graduates to be ‘business critical’. Doctoral graduates also improve the effectiveness of their colleagues, with the vast majority having contributed to improving problem solving and creative-thinking in others.

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of RCUK, said: “At RCUK we are fully aware of the positive influence that doctoral graduates can have on any organisation and this report demonstrates extremely well the beneficial impact that people with such talent and acumen are having on UK businesses.”

The report, funded by RCUK, HEFCE and HEFCW, was based on a study commissioned with the social research company CFE Research. It aimed to understand the economic, social and cultural impact that doctoral graduates have on the organisations they work in. The report extends our understanding of the contribution of doctoral graduates to innovation and the wider economy. The report also provides new information on the types of careers postgraduates pursued over a seven to nine year period.

Dr Iain Cameron, RCUK Head of Research Careers and Diversity, said: “This is a very robust study based on the views of ~1,800 doctoral graduates, mostly working outside Higher Education. It challenges negative stereotypes, such as the notion that doctoral graduates have only narrow interests, and in fact shows very clearly that they not only deliver for employers but also raise the game of those they work alongside.

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Further information

Nicholas Turner
Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592 or email: Nicholas Turner

Notes to editors

  1. The doctoral impact and career tracking study was commissioned by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the higher education funding bodies for England and Wales (HEFCE and HEFCW). A copy of the full report, along with shorter briefings targeted at policy makers, employers and current and potential doctoral student can be found here.

  2. The survey behind the report included ~1800 doctoral graduates of whom 268 were interviewed. 96 employers were also interviewed of which 67 were matched with doctoral graduate interviews. Survey data from the study will be deposited (in early 2015) with the UK Data Archive for other researchers to use:

  3. The report has contributed to the RCUK Impact Report (2014) page 18 “Researchers’ skills helping businesses grow”

  4. The key finding that one in five employers consider doctoral graduates to be ‘business critical’ is referenced in the in the HM Treasury/BIS document ‘Our Plan for Growth: Science and Innovation – Evidence Paper’ (December 2014) page 13 

  5. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

    • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
    • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    • Medical Research Council (MRC);
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

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