ACCE DTP EDI Report 2023

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Rachael Hannah McLaughlin 


Underrepresentation of minoritised and historically disadvantaged groups is prevalent in PhD recruitment, particularly in environmental sciences. The environmental science focussed ‘Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment’ Doctoral Training Partnership (ACCE DTP) was awarded funding from the Natural Environment Research Council for an EDI-centred project. This project aimed to identify areas of underrepresentation within the ACCE DTP’s recruitment processes, assess the impacts of recent changes to recruitment practices, and explore further changes to be implemented in future recruitment rounds.

Analysis of applicant data from ten years of ACCE DTP recruitment (2014-2023) empirically demonstrated that there is good diversity in ACCE recruitment with respect to the gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and nationality of applicants, but highlighted the personal characteristics of ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic background as areas of underrepresentation, and established the prevalence and disproportionate awarding of studentships to applicants from Russell Group and Boliver cluster 2 universities, with a master’s level qualification, and who learnt about the ACCE DTP from an advisor or supervisor (who many benefit more than others from additional support).

The project then moved to researching approaches for improving EDI in doctoral recruitment, with focus on those most tailored to the areas of underrepresentation identified and the ACCE DTP. The resulting report provides an extensive range of recommended strategies, policies, and practices designed to reduce discrepancies between candidates from different backgrounds, increase representation of underrepresented groups, and balance the disproportionately different success rates of different groups. Recommendations are divided into three key areas of focus: outreach, recruitment, and retention. These recommendations can be adapted for wider use in doctoral recruitment, and in other areas of higher education.



Earth Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Education, Environmental Sciences, Higher Education


Doctoral recruitment, Doctoral Training Partnership, EDI, Equity Diversity and Inclusion, PhD, environmental science


Published: 2023-11-09 03:06

Last Updated: 2023-11-09 08:06


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
The data associated with this report includes the personal characteristics of individuals, collected as part of the PhD application process between 2014 and 2023. Ethical approval cannot be granted for this historical data to be used in published research, thus this section of the report has been removed and a broad summary provided.