Doctoral School

Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2021

The 2021 PRES results are now in

PRES 2017 Logo

The results are in... 

2021 PRES shows increase in overall satisfaction of Doctoral Researchers


Thank you to our Doctoral Researchers for taking the time to complete the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) during April and May this year.

In total, 679 Doctoral Researchers completed the survey, representing 55% of the overall doctoral population. This was an excellent number of responses, well in excess of the sector average of 36%, and provides an invaluable set of data to understand and ultimately to enhance our research environment and the Doctoral Researcher experience.

The survey results have been shared with colleagues across Schools and central departments. Postgraduate Research action plans, directly informed by the survey results, will be considered at the 4th October 2021 meeting of the Doctoral School Board, including our elected Doctoral Researcher representatives.

We are proud to share that the rate of overall satisfaction has increased since the last survey, up 1.1% to 76.3%, which reverses the 2021 trend across the UK university sector, where overall satisfaction has fallen 1.6% to 79.1%. That we have seen an increase in satisfaction during a pandemic warrants note. It has undoubtedly been a challenging time for all Doctoral Researchers, who are regularly balancing studies with teaching, work or family commitments. I am pleased to note that the recognition our Doctoral Supervisors is the highest scoring section of the survey, at 86.3%, and the support and training to prepare Doctoral Tutors to teach shows the highest increase since the last survey, up 9.9% to 67.8%.

There are some key areas in which we will need to undertake further work to understand the survey, and the doctoral experience. Results under opportunities to engage in seminar programmes, to discuss research projects and to meet other doctoral researchers under the Research Culture section of the survey have fallen since 2019, to 53.2%. While this area has undoubtedly been affected by the pandemic and we see a similar drop across the sector, we will prioritise this area for action over the coming year.

Lastly, we see some important changes in survey results in 2021 from our last survey in 2019 regarding overall satisfaction levels if we consider ethnicity. The satisfaction of BAME Doctoral Researchers has increased significantly, up 12% to 80.6% in 2021. This is coupled with a drop in satisfaction for white researchers, down 7% to 73.7%. This shift over two years also requires further work to understand the underlying issues, but I am encouraged to report the gap between satisfaction levels of all ethnicities is significantly reduced in our 2021 survey.

Doctoral School