The National Postgraduate Committee this week issued guidelines for better facilities for postgraduates, which it says are essential to avoid isolation and low morale.
Jamie Darwen, NPC general secretary, said: "Postgraduates need to be brought in from the cold. They need to feel less cut off, especially those in the arts and humanities. Postgraduates are often perceived as lone scholars, but good research requires interaction and exchange of ideas with other researchers."
The guidelines, which are being distributed to all universities, state that "there is a moral obligation on the institution to provide a suitable environment in which to conduct research". Top of the list is office space, with the "minimum acceptable provision" for each student being a desk, chair, lamp, bookcase, lockable filing cabinet and room key.
The NPC calls for departmental and institution-wide common rooms to "allow mixing" between academic staff and postgraduates. Computers and a telephone for international calls are needed.