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Role of academic advisers in facilitating conversations about postgraduate study

Have you had a conversation with your advisees about postgraduate study? A student might not have mentioned it because they don’t think postgrad study is for them, or because they don’t really know what it is. This can particularly apply to home students from ‘widening participation’ backgrounds, who may have overcome a number of barriers in progressing as far as undergraduate level.

A ‘nudge’ from academic staff can be hugely beneficial. A research project on ‘Widening Access to Postgraduate Study’ funded by HEFCE (as was) in 2015 found that “A major influence in ‘seeding’ the possibility of postgraduate study was the encouragement of academic staff at undergraduate level. Academic advisers were often cited as a ‘major influence’ in decision making”. Despite this, the same research project also found that “staff often expressed concern about patronising potential PGT students, but students themselves felt that the availability of IAG was scarce and there was an assumption that their having achieved an undergraduate degree meant they would automatically understand what was expected of them at PGT, when in fact this was not always the case.”

Consider asking your tutees whether they have considered postgrad study, either now or in the future. You may see potential in them that they haven’t seen themselves. There are several resources you can direct them to:

  • has some useful guidance on the basics of master’s study: what a master’s is, why study a master’s, employability outcomes, funding etc.
  • has a similar resource for PhDs.
  • They can make an appointment with a Careers Adviser to discuss postgrad study.
  • An overview of master’s study at Manchester is at, including a ‘why master’s?’ section with advice about master’s study in general (not just at UoM).