We are delighted to announce that the York Graduate Research School (YGRS) has been recognised for its work at the forefront of PGR wellbeing, winning the FindAPhd Outstanding Contribution to Postgraduate Student Wellbeing award.
The award is for the suite of PGR support and wellbeing activities run by the University’s Building Research and Innovation Capacity (BRIC) team, and includes buddy and mentor schemes as well as the peer-led How to thrive and survive in your PhD programme.
Buddy and mentoring
We know the start of a research programme is a crucial transition period. Our PGR buddy scheme is aimed at new postgraduate researchers to help them settle into the York research experience. They are matched with existing PGRs who can provide a friendly welcome and help them get to know the University and the city of York.
As PGRs progress through their research, they can then apply for the PGR mentoring scheme where they discuss and develop skills, behaviours and approaches to research and explore professional development and career plans with a more experienced postdoctoral researcher within the University.
Smriti Safaya, Distance Learner PGR, Dept of Education, said: “York provides one-to-one support for PGR students and has grown the bank of inclusive resources meaning no matter where we are, or how far along our PhD journey, we are supported. I’ve studied at a number of institutions across the world and this is the best support I’ve ever received.”
How to thrive and survive in your PhD
Peer support is central to improving PhD student mental health. Instigated by Dr Sarah Masefield in 2018 when she was a PGR, the ‘How to thrive and survive in your PhD programme’ hosts regular PGR-led sessions where PhD students can get together and talk about key issues that they face, including fieldwork, public engagement, health and wellbeing, and finishing the thesis.
Taryn Bell, who recently completed her PhD in Archaeology and is now Fellowship Coordinator at York, said: “The Thrive and Survive sessions bolstered my self-confidence, and helped to banish some of the imposter-type feelings that I’d been having ever since I started my PhD.”
Wellbeing at the heart of the York experience
Professor Kathryn Arnold, Dean of the York Graduate Research School, said: “The PGR Wellbeing Suite places the welfare and wellbeing of PGRs at the heart of the York experience. Working with and for PGRs and their supervisors, the YGRS team has developed a flexible and evolving package of wellbeing support. The University of York is committed to recruiting diverse research talent and creating an inclusive and equitable research culture in which our PGRs can flourish.”
The panel of expert judges said they were “impressed by the initiative’s comprehensive and sector leading support for PhD students across the University.”