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The latest Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES 2021) has placed Ulster University second in the UK for postgraduate researcher satisfaction.

The national benchmarking exercise surveyed postgraduate research students from 89 universities across the UK about their postgraduate research experience.

Ulster University has risen from 8th in 2019 to 2nd in 2021.  This was achieved within the context of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, scoring an overall satisfaction rate of 88%.

Highlights of Ulster’s results include; second for resources provided, second for professional development and third for research skills opportunities provided and fifth for support offered for postgraduate researchers. Ulster was placed in the highest quarter across all categories with extremely high satisfaction rates (over 90%) in research skills and supervision categories.

In a double celebration, the rankings come as 80 PhD researchers recently graduated from Ulster University having completed research spanning over 17 subject areas.

Professor Marie Murphy, Dean of Postgraduate Research commented:

“Ulster University’s outstanding performance in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey is a testament to the continued hard work of our PhD supervisors, Postgraduate Tutors and the team at the Doctoral College supporting the journey of our PhD researchers. 2020/21 has been a challenging year for everyone, so to make such a marked improvement in these rankings is an incredible achievement.

“At Ulster we pride ourselves on creating a vibrant research environment and supportive research culture for PhD researchers, equipping them with the collaborative research skills and knowledge needed to excel in their future careers. We worked hard to adapt to the challenges presented by the pandemic to ensure this could be sustained online and in alternative ways and we are delighted to see an improvement in researcher satisfaction. The rankings are rewarding feedback for our whole research community for the team, and very encouraging for those considering PhD study with Ulster and for those many industry, charity, government and other partners with whom we work.”

The rankings reflect the University’s ongoing commitment to support PhD Researchers throughout the pandemic. Through regular communication with PhD Researchers, the Doctoral College provided updates on the University’s response to Covid-19 including financial support mechanisms available. As activity moved online, the Doctoral College organised virtual social events and successfully pivoted to online vivas and the online delivery of their bespoke Researcher Development Programme which supports 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.

Professor Liam Maguire, PVC Research added,

“These rankings further cement Ulster University’s reputation as a world-class research environment. Our PhD researchers and graduates are making an incredible impact across their diverse fields of study, working hand in hand with partners in industry, local communities and global stakeholders. Post graduate research opens up a hugely rewarding career path and the opportunity to make a real difference in society.”

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