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New UK-wide project launched to transform the culture and practice of research supervision

Posted on 27 February 2024

The £4.6m Next Generation Research SuperVision Project (RSVP) was officially launched today, celebrating the project’s ambition to enhance and provide consistency in the supervision of postgraduate research across the UK.

Postgraduate researchers talkingThe project aims to transform the culture and practice of research supervision.

RSVP will bring together experts from industry and academia to design, pilot and evaluate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and mentoring for research supervisors.

The four year project, funded by Research England, aims to transform the culture and practice of research supervision by providing resources, training, self assessment tools for institutions, and routes to reward and recognition.

RSVP is designed to enable institutions to put into place support that will increase the confidence of supervisors to support candidates from diverse cultural backgrounds and encourage the development of new PhD pathways, such as hybrid-learning and through professional practice.

New deal

RSVP is cited as a key element of the UKRI’s New Deal for Postgraduate Research. The New Deal outlines recommendations to ensure that every postgraduate research student gets a high quality and consistent experience at institutions across the country.

It calls for research organisations and universities to ensure that everyone in the supervisory team is well supported, including through induction for new supervisors and CPD for more experienced supervisors.

This is echoed in the revised Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training, which outlines that research organisations will enable supervisors to invest in their CPD as a supervisor, including building awareness of mental health, wellbeing, bullying and harassment, and equality, diversity and inclusion issues.

Dr Karen Clegg, Co-Principal Investigator of RSVP, said: “Doctoral researchers and their supervisors are essential to a positive research culture, but support across the sector to ensure the student, supervisor and university maximise the opportunity is patchy. Our RSVP project aims to smooth out these inconsistencies.”


RSVP will draw on the experience and expertise of supervisors from organisations including GSK, Unilever, the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The project will develop an open source toolkit of resources for supervisors to support their continuing professional development. 

Dr Clegg added: “We think RSVP is the biggest culture-change project on research supervision to date. It’s an invitation to the sector to get involved to collectively share ideas and pilot professional development initiatives.

“We want to widen and diversify the pool of confident, trained supervisors able to support an inclusive culture and the next generation of researchers. Ultimately, we want to transform research supervision. 

“By learning from such diverse industries we will bring best practice front and centre and help secure a brighter future for research supervision: something that will benefit us all.”


RSVP is a four-year programme of work funded by Research England. The project consortium includes Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Nottingham, King's College London, Coventry University and the UK Council for Graduate Education. It is supported by the seven UKRI research councils, the Wellcome Trust and the Crick Institute.

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