Postgraduate researchers ‘happy with university experience’

Four out of five postgraduate research students are happy with their university experience, a new study has suggested.

September 4, 2013

Some 82 per cent of students polled in this year’s Higher Education Academy Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, published on 4 September, said they were satisfied overall with their time on their course.

A record 48,401 students at 122 higher education institutions responded to the 2013 survey – an increase of 56 per cent on the 31,102 who participated last year – representing 42 per cent of all postgraduate research students.

Eighty-four per cent of students agreed with positive statements on their experience of supervision, while 85 per cent said they were happy with the research skills they learned.

Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) agreed their department provides a good seminar programme, but only 58 per cent said they had opportunities to become involved in the wider research community beyond their department.

However, only 60 per cent of respondents agreed that their institution values and responds to feedback from research students.

Just over half of students (52 per cent) had taught or demonstrated at their institution during their research degree programme, rising to 61 per cent in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

Of those who had experienced teaching or demonstrating, 62 per cent received formal training and 57 per cent felt they had received appropriate support and guidance for teaching.

Stephanie Marshall, chief executive of the HEA, said the survey had been revamped this year to “provide the most comprehensive picture of the postgraduate research experience available”.

Institutional-level results would not be released to students or potential students, but could be used by universities to compare themselves against similar institutions to highlight possible areas of improvement, Professor Marshall added.

“As the sector becomes increasingly focused on the needs of postgraduate students, Pres - and the HEA’s Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, PTES - provide vital information that helps higher education institutions to enhance their provision,” she said.

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