Posted on 15 Dec '21

Future Masters and Future PhD Surveys – 2021 Results

Postgraduate study is complicated, and that's kind of the point. But it doesn't make life easy for marketers and recruiters. Your audiences are choosing between a vast range of subject areas and a far more diverse portfolio of qualifications. They might currently be at university, or they might have graduated 10 years ago (or 20, or 30...). They're also a lot more likely to be international.

All of this makes it difficult to form useful assumptions about what 'prospective postgraduate students' think, or want, or do – and data for this area of higher education isn't always easy to come by.

Our annual Future Masters and Future PhD surveys are designed to address these information gaps at scale, helping and supporting postgraduate marketers to help and support prospective students.

Powered by our leading postgraduate choice platforms, FindAMasters and FindAPhD, this year's research draws on an unparalleled range of over 16,000 responses, all from people actively considering further study.

We've organised the results into a series of shorter reports, drilling down into specific topics and segmenting responses to properly explore the breadth and depth of potential audiences for postgraduate study.

You can browse each one as they're released, below. Alternatively, you can let us know you'd like to receive our monthly Postgraduate Pulse newsletter and we'll send you the latest info (and a whole lot more we honestly think you'll find useful).

Report 1 – University Choice

The first report from our 2021 Future Masters and Future PhD surveys examines how prospective postgraduates evaluate potential universities and programmes: identifying the factors that do and don't influence them and revealing how they seek information about further study:

The findings reveal that:

  • Prospective Masters students prioritise the uniqueness of a university's programme portfolio over factors such as rankings and location
  • The most popular source of information about Masters study is a university's prospectus; whereas the most popular avenue for information seeking at PhD level is direct contact with academics
  • Roughly a third of UK undergraduates would attend a study fair to learn more about Masters opportunities

Report 2 – Study Preferences

The second 2021 Future Masters and Future PhD report looks at interest in different entry points and modes of study for a wide range of prospective postgraduate audiences and asks how Covid-19 is (and isn't) reshaping these preferences.

The findings reveal that:

  • January 2022 was the most popular entry point for Masters and PhD students planning their studies in summer 2021
  • Attitudes to flexible study vary substantially between audiences, with UK students almost equally split between online, blended and on campus learning
  • Around a fifth of prospective postgraduates say the pandemic has made them more likely to study a Masters or PhD

Report 3 – Information Gaps

Our third Future Masters and Future PhD report asks what people don't know about postgraduate study – spotting opportunities for good advice and guidance to really make a difference for prospective students. This report focusses on the UK, but it may indicate the presence of surprisingly large knowledge gaps for postgraduate study in general.

The findings reveal that:

  • A third of people considering returning to university for a Masters don't know they can get a postgraduate loan to do so
  • Less than half of prospective international postgraduates are aware of the UK's new Graduate Route post-study work visa (this is a big one)
  • Brexit may have made EU students overly sceptical of UK study opportunities, 'fogging' positive changes such as eligibility for UKRI PhD funding

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