ESRC Collaborative Studentship

ESRC Collaborative Studentship

Issued: Fri, 01 Jun 2018 08:45:00 BST

ESRC Collaborative Studentship between University of Glasgow and Student Minds: Determinants and impact of wellbeing during university-to-work transitions

Closing Date: 17th June 2018 


Youth represents a high-risk population for mental health problems (ONS, 2017). Particularly, within the higher education setting, health and wellbeing issues have been referred to as the invisible problem (Martin, 2010) and multiplicities of pressures (e.g. financial difficulties, self-image and identity) on students that impact mental wellbeing have been identified (NUS Scotland, 2010; UniversitiesUK, 2015).  Although there is now considerable interest in structural inequalities in student wellbeing, precarious youth transitions (Ainley & Allen, 2013; Gardiner, 2014) and youth wellbeing in work, empirical research on wellbeing during university-to-work transitions is scarce.

New entrants into the graduate labour market face unprecedented ambiguity, uncertainty and precariousness in their outcomes upon graduation, which are often constrained by eg labour market opportunities and relocation/accommodation costs, adversely impacting on transition into independent adulthood (Stone et al, 2014). Successful transitions (e.g. securing interesting work) positively impact graduate wellbeing (Reino & Byrom, 2017). Nevertheless, university leavers often lack the career-related experience to help them negotiate this complex terrain (Okay-Somerville & Scholarios, 2014). Despite increasing pressure to engage in employability activities early in their course (QAA, 2016), graduates report insufficient career-related support from universities (Reino & Byrom, 2017) and considerable levels of stress and anxiety (NUS Scotland, 2010; Okay-Somerville & Scholarios, 2017). Against this background, the proposed research seeks to address the determinants and impact of wellbeing during university-to-work transitions.

The key research question the proposed project aims to address is: How does wellbeing impact university-to-work transitions? In achieving this aim, the key objectives of this research are to:

  • Improve understanding of the determinants of university leavers’ wellbeing
  • Examine the impact of wellbeing on student experience, career management and employment outcomes
  • Extend our understanding of student wellbeing and university-to-work transitions from an interdisciplinary perspective, which considers the role of agency and structure in labour market entry, and  
  • Develop recommendations for wellbeing-oriented prevention and intervention programmes to assist university leavers as they transition into the world of work.

A mixed-methods, multi-source study is proposed, composed of: (i) semi-structured interviews and focus groups key stakeholders, and (ii) a longitudinal survey for systematically examining the changes in student wellbeing through the final year and its impact on successful university-to-work transitions.

The academic supervisory team consists of researchers from the School of Education (Dr Lesley Doyle) and Adam Smith Business School (Dr Belgin Okay-Somerville) at the University of Glasgow. The non-academic supervision is provided by Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, who will also make invaluable in-kind contributions, such as facilitating access to samples and dissemination of findings.


Home/EU applicants are eligible to apply as well as students already in their first year of a University of Glasgow PhD. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible. 

ESRC eligibility information

ESRC Eligibility Checker Tool

The Award

The scholarship will run for a maximum of 3 years full-time or 5 years part-time commencing on October 2017 and will provide:

  • an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2017-18 rate £14,553 full-time/£8,731.80 part-time)
  • fees at the standard Home/EU or International rate
  • a research support grant of £750 (£450 part-time) per annum

How to Apply

All applicants should complete and collate the following documentation then attach to a single email and send o  with the subject line “Determinants and impact of wellbeing during university-to-work transitions Scholarship application”.

  • Academic Transcript(s)

Full academic transcript(s) from previous studies (undergraduate and postgraduate).

  • Two references

On official headed notepaper and signed by referees.

References given to candidates in sealed envelopes should be opened, scanned and attached to the email.

References can also be emailed direct to by referees via their official University email address; clearly labelling the reference e.g. “John Smith XX ESRC-Collaborative Scholarship Reference”

  • Copy of CV
  • Research Proposal 
    A brief 2-page document outlining the proposed research project.
  • Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre Coversheet
  • Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre Equal Opportunities Form

Any application which fails to meet the above requirements will not be considered.

For further information or details about the Project

Please contact Dr Belgin Okay-Somerville ( or Dr. Lesley Doyle

Selection Process
Applications will be assessed by a selection panel and shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the College of Social Sciences.  Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

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