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How we use student feedback to improve your student experience

Find out how your feedback is used from the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) and the Professional Doctorate Experience Survey (PDES).

What are PRES and PDES?

PRES and PDES are surveys that are run every two years, in the spring, in order to understand and improve the doctoral student experience within the University.


PRES

PRES is a national survey run by Advance HE that the University can use to understand and evaluate student satisfaction towards the overall doctoral student experience. The survey evaluates themes such as supervision, research culture, student support and professional development.

PDES

PDES is an institutional survey run by the University to understand and evaluate student satisfaction on professional doctorate programmes towards the overall doctoral student experience. The survey evaluates themes such as learning and teaching, supervision, research culture, student support and professional development.

Improvements to the research student environment

We have used feedback from PRES and PDES to improve:

  • doctoral supervision
  • research culture and professional development
  • student support
  • teaching as a postgraduate student

The next PRES/PDES surveys will run in Spring 2023.

Supervision

Based on your feedback about doctoral supervision, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes have done.


Students in the lab from the CSCT doctoral training centre
  • The mix of supervisors identified at candidature has come under greater scrutiny (Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering).
  • Made more opportunities for group supervision (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme).
  • Department hosted a supervision best practice forum (Department of Psychology).
  • Clarified the role of the 2nd supervisor and there is more contact between students and their 2nd supervisors (Department of Physics).
  • Directors of Studies (DoS) meeting with new Supervisors to advise and assist settling-in (Department of Computer Science).

In addition, the Doctoral College has done the following:

  • Introduced a checklist for students and supervisors to use for their first meeting.
  • Set up a working group to develop new supervisor training and enhance existing training and support provision. Outputs include a new online resource for Doctoral Supervisors, with over 20 news videos, and links to EPIGEUM resources.
  • Reviewed student expectations of what excellent supervision means to them.
  • Set up a new DoS Forum from 29 March 2022 to share best-practice across departments and to review progress made by departments in addressing issues raised in their PRES/PDES Action Plans.

Research culture and professional development

Based on your feedback about research culture and professional development, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes have done.


A student presenting to an audience
  • Invited doctoral students to divisional/School research seminars (School of Management).
  • Introduced a regular workshop to support students with writing and critiquing papers for publication (Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies).
  • Ensure that doctoral students belong to a research group and have opportunities to attend research group meetings (Department of Psychology).
  • Recorded research seminars to make them available to students studying off-campus (DBA programme).
  • Introduced a monthly colloquium for thesis-phase students to present their research to peers: noting that these students are all based off-campus (DBA, School of Management).
  • Department Research Committee now include doctoral representation (Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies).
  • Annual PhD student conference, students encouraged to develop profiles on Pure and celebration of research student achievements through the departmental Twitter feed, bulletin (Department of Psychology).
  • Several departments have introduced a suite of activities. For example (i) departmental weekly staff and doctoral coffee meetings, (ii) Seminars and postgraduate research (PGR) reading group run by students, (iii) departmental staff/student seminar series (external speakers), (iv) PGR research network with 7 other universities. (Department of Economics).
  • Departmental research groups have been encouraged to engage with more doctoral students (several departments), including introductions from each research centres during Induction (School of Management).
  • Encouraging/facilitation of distance-based professional students to engage with local research clusters, such as supporting a Radiographer based in Singapore in joining a network of research-focused radiographers within their geographical locality (DHealth, Department of Health).
  • Department PG Executive arranged a PG Careers Day for 16 March 2022 (Department of Chemistry).

In addition, the Doctoral College has done the following:

  • Obtained funding for each Faculty / School to run activities to improve doctoral culture issues raised in their PRES/PDES feedback (launched 2022).
  • Raised the profile of doctoral needs within the University‚Äôs Research Culture Working Group.
  • Organised activities such as Slice of Research and Snap! Your Doctorate.
  • Supported a number of student-led researcher development activities through the Research Activities Fund.

Student support

Based on your feedback about student support, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes have done.


A group of students talking
  • A new Moodle page helps signpost provision such as support from student services (Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering).
  • Improved signposting of PGR Director of Studies support through the SAMIS progression forms (Department of Chemical Engineering).
  • Introduced a series of coffee catch up meetings where students can discuss their issues and feelings within the Department (Department of Education).
  • Implemented a buddying system for new first year students to provide support (Department of Computer Science).
  • Running monthly PhD catch ups where students can discuss a specific topic for 30 min and then have a 30 min question and answer session on all the queries they might have. (Department of Health).

In addition, the Doctoral College has done the following:

  • Improved web information about student support and how to access it.
  • Working with the SU, expanded the peer mentoring scheme.
  • Thoroughly revised and expended suite of Induction activities and guidance.
  • Thorough review of Professional Doctorate processes including improved collection of student feedback, transition from taught to research stages and greater access to doctoral skills opportunities (planned for 2022).

Postgraduates who teach

Based on your feedback about teaching as a postgraduate student, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes have done.


A student giving a workshop
  • Provides a range of mentoring support to students teaching and supporting learning in different contexts (Department of Chemistry).
  • Supports students with teaching responsibilities to obtain AdvanceHE recognition (Department for Health).
  • Departmental Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) support has been totally revamped for 2021/22: additional workshops and a monthly meeting where GTAs can share their experience, problems and good practice. Sharing of experience from experienced GTAs. Improved clarity for Unit Convenors as to their responsibilities to ensure improved support to GTAs. (Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies).

In addition, the Doctoral College has done the following:

  • Updated student guidance related to teaching.
  • Supported the University and College Union (UCU) to review postgraduate teacher's pay and conditions with more Departments using flexible contracts.
  • Worked with the Centre for Learning & Teaching (CLT) and Research & Innovation Services (RIS) to develop more bespoke training for students who teach, as well as improved online resource.
  • Working with other professional services to review approval to teach processes.

Other ways you can give us your feedback

In addition to our student surveys there are plenty of other ways in which you can give us your feedback to improve your experience. Find out some of the ways you can give us feedback.


Academic Reps

These are elected individuals in your departments and programmes who represent your views at Faculty and School Staff-Student Liaison Committees (SSLCs) throughout the year. Find out who your Academic Reps are in your departments and programmes.

The SU

You can give your opinions through the SU through the Postgraduate Officer, the Doctoral Executive or attending a doctoral forum. The SU and the University meets regularly to discuss student feedback. Find out how you can give feedback through the SU.

Department meetings and forums

Most Departments have meetings with their doctoral students throughout the year. Attending these meetings are useful ways in which you can provide feedback to your Department. Contact your Director of Studies to find out the schedule for these meetings.