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Dr Wil Hunt

Research interests

Wil’s current research interests relate to the labour market and the intersection between education and the world of work. Examples include:

  • Social inequality and patterns of advantage and disadvantage in the education system and the labour market;
  • Labour market change, changing employment practices and new and precarious forms of working;
  • Transitions from education to employment.

Academic profile

Wil joined IER as a Research Fellow in 2017, having recently completed his PhD at Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth. His PhD research examined the role internships play in the UK graduate labour market and considers how the practice fits in with theories of labour market change and transitions from education to employment. The research finds that, contrary to popular belief, internships (particularly unpaid ones) do not always confer advantages in the labour market, and while less privileged graduates are less likely to do internships, paid or unpaid, it is the more advantageous paid internships that they struggle to secure. Prior to starting his PhD Wil worked for a number of years at the Institute for Employment Studies where his research encompassed a wide range of education and work related topics, including: higher education, the graduate labour market, career patterns of PhD and creative graduates, student finances and support arrangements, student choices and graduate flows, health and safety in the workplace, and employers’ use of migrant labour. Wil is experienced in the use of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. On the quantitative side this includes: design and analysis of primary surveys; analysis of large scale secondary datasets (e.g. DLHE and LFS); bivariate and multivariate analysis techniques. Qualitative skills include: in-depth interviews (face-to-face and telephone); focus groups; and the use of Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS).

Current projects

  • Degrees of Advantage? A longer-term investigation of the careers of UK graduates. With Kate Purcell, Peter Elias and Gaby Atfield. Funded by: Nuffield Foundation. Project Start Date: 01/04/2018 - Project End Date: 30/09/2019 [details]
  • Literature review of employability programes and work placements in Higher Education. With Daria Luchinskaya, Gaby Atfield, Beate Baldauf. Funded by Department for Education. Project Start Date: 30/01/2091 - Project End Date: 23/08/2019 [details]
  • Study on the wider benefits of completing a degree. With Heike Behle, Gaby Atfield, Daria Luchinskaya, David Owen, Beate Baldauf and Clare Lyonette. Funded by Department for Education. Project Start Date: 22/10/2018 - Project End Date: 30/06/2021 [details]
  • Digitisation of work processes. With Chris Warhust and Sally Wright. Funded by European Commission. Project Start Date 13/08/2018 - Project end Date: 12/10/2018 [details]
  • Literature Review of Student Choices at 18. With Peter Dickinson, Beate Baldauf and Alan Brown. Funded by the Department for Education. Project Start Date: 16/04/2018 - Project End Date: 31/07/2018 [details]

All projects

Selected publications

  • Hunt, W. and Atfield, G. (2019) The wider (non-market) benefits of post 18 education for individuals and society. London: Department for Education.
  • Hunt, W. & Scott, P. (2018). Paid and unpaid graduate internships: prevalence, quality and motivations at six months after graduation. Studies in Higher Education, [online]
  • Hunt, W. & Scott, P. (2017). Participation in paid and unpaid internships among creative and communications graduates: does class advantage play a part? In R. Waller, N. Ingram & Ward, M. (Eds.) Higher Education and Social Inequalities: University admissions, experiences and outcomes. London: BSA/Routledge.
  • Lyonette, C., Hunt, W. and Baldauf, B. (2017) Occupations and skills of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Graduates. British Academy. [view report]

  • Pollard, E., Hunt, W., Hillage, J., Drever, E., Chanfreau, J., Coutinho, S. & Poole, E. (2013). Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2011/12: English-domiciled Students. (BIS Research Paper 115). London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
  • Pollard, E., Connor, H., & Hunt, W. (2011). Mapping Provision and Participation in Postgraduate Creative Arts and Design. In D. Bhagat and P. O'Neill (Eds.), Inclusive Practices, Inclusive Pedagogies: Learning from widening participation research in art and design higher education. London: Council for Higher Education in Art and Design, University of the Arts London.
  • Hunt, W. (2010). Creative Graduates, Creative Futures. Graduate Market Trends: The HECSU Journal, Autumn.
  • Hunt, W., Jagger, N., Metcalfe, J., & Pollard, E. (2010). What do researchers do? Doctoral graduate destinations and impact three years on, 2010. (Vitae Report). Cambridge: The Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) Ltd.
  • Hunt, W., Ball, L., & Pollard, E. (2010). Crafting Futures: A study of the early careers of crafts graduates from UK higher education institutions. London: Crafts Council.
  • Ball, L., Pollard, E., & Stanley, N., with Dumelow, I., Hunt, W., & Oakley, J. (2010). Creative Graduates, Creative Futures. Council for Higher Education in Art and Design, (Report 471). London: University of the Arts, London.
  • Pollard, E., Hunt, W,, Sumption, F., Cowling, M., Millmore, B. (2010). The Brighton Factor Revisited Does it work and is it important? (IES Report 473). Brighton: Institute for Employment Studies.
  • Tamkin, P., Cowling, M., & Hunt, W. (2008). People and the Bottom Line. (Report 448). Brighton: Institute for Employment Studies.
  • Tyers, C., Connor, H., Pollard, E., Bates, P., & Hunt, W. (2006). Welsh Graduates and their Jobs: Employment and Employability in Wales. Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

All publications

All conference presentations


While working on his PhD, Wil worked as a PTHP lecturer at Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth on the following undergraduate and Master’s degree courses:

  • ‘Research and Quantitative methods’ to second year students from across the business school including on courses in: marketing, HRM, innovation studies, business and management.
  • ’Research Methods for Business’ to Master’s students on the MBM Research based International Business and Management course.

Awards and prizes

  • Faculty Research Project Fund. (Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth – May’2016)
  • 1st prize for best presentation at the ‘Portsmouth Business School 11th Postgraduate Research Student Conference’ (Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth – May’2015)
  • Three year PhD scholarship (University of Portsmouth, University Bursary – Oct’12 to Oct’15)

Professional memberships

British Sociological Association