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The latest Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES 2019) has placed Ulster University in the top eight universities in the UK for postgraduate researcher satisfaction.

The national benchmarking exercise surveys postgraduate research students from over 100 universities across the UK about their postgraduate research experience.

Highlights for Ulster’s Doctoral College include; third for research culture, ninth for responsibilities and professional development and placement in the highest quarter for progression, research skills and resources.

In a double celebration, the rankings come as 80 PhD researchers recently graduated from Ulster University having completed research spanning over 20 subject areas.

Professor Marie Murphy, Dean of Postgraduate Research commented:

“Ulster University’s strong performance in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey is a testament to the continued hard work of our PhD supervisors and the team at the Doctoral College supporting the journey of our PhD researchers . It reflects our focus on creating a vibrant research environment and supportive research culture for PhD researchers with the establishment of our Doctoral College just over 18 months ago.
In partnership with supervisors we seek to develop PhD researchers and equip them with the collaborative research skills and knowledge they need to progress with confidence in their future careers. In particular we have  encouraged interdisciplinary conversations among PhD researchers which provides invaluable peer support during the PhD journey.  Our top 10  ranking in the PRES2019 survey is rewarding feedback from our PhD researcher community for the team and our PhD supervisors across all of our research units and should be very encouraging for those considering PhD study at Ulster.”

Ranked 3rd out of 103 universities for Research Culture, Ulster University’s Doctoral College creates an environment that encourages the multi and interdisciplinary conversations and networking essential to answer the most significant research questions.

The rankings reflect the University’s recent investment in enhancements to resources, facilities, training and support for all PhD researchers; from dedicated social spaces on each campus to a bespoke Researcher Development Programme supporting the development of professional transferable skills.

PhD research at Ulster is impacting productivity and addressing some of the biggest challenges faced in society, including mental health, disease, conflict and sustainability. It brings knowledge and advanced research skills into society and the workplace, through non-government organisations, and across diverse industries and sectors.

The Doctoral College is a hub of influence that connects real world research with diverse sectors and is making a real difference in society. The BT Ireland Innovation Centre is just one example of industry collaboration harnessing the impact of PhD research. The multi-million pound industry partnership created unrivalled opportunities for 12 PhD research posts working alongside industry leaders as part of the team leading over £7 million worth of joint research pioneering advances in AI and data analytics for customer experience, 5G communications and cyber security.

Other examples of ongoing PhD projects include those within the area of social studies (ranked 1st for Research Culture within its discipline) which are motivated by questions, methods and outputs co-produced with stakeholders living in the communities where the research is located. This ensures that academic research reaches out from its ‘ivory tower’, linking the practice-based knowledge generated through these PhD research projects to new theoretical insights and breakthroughs that positively impact communities.

Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, PVC Research and Impact added,

“Many of our PhD researchers graduating this month have already secured employment in their chosen fields, and some will be moving on to post doctoral research positions locally and globally.  The impact of their research cannot be underestimated.  These hugely encouraging rankings show Ulster to be a nurturing and progressive home for testing and challenging; for addressing the challenges and exploring the opportunities in our communities and economies through the power of PhD research.  We are proud of the contribution of our PhD researchers to Northern Ireland’s R&D ecosystem.”

PhD researchers are offered a wide range of postgraduate opportunities, across all disciplines, including fully funded scholarship options available for both home and international students.

More information on postgraduate research at Ulster and PhD research can be found at