In our 2017 survey, 53% of our PGR students shared their feedback on being a research student at Edinburgh Napier.
84% of our students are satisfied with their experience of research degrees at Edinburgh Napier.
Overall, this is above the UK sector average and represents a 4% increase since 2015.
The PRES questions look at seven areas of research student experience and in all areas we are above the national average:
We last ran PRES in 2015 and since then we have made positive progress, with 21/30 of our PRES question responses now falling in the top two sector quartiles.
We are pleased that our satisfaction figures are high in comparison with the sector, but there is always room for improvement and the survey has highlighted specific areas that require some attention.
The results from the survey were discussed at both School and University level, through committees and in consultation with research degree student reps, to ensure the survey data is used effectively to improve our student experience. This report highlights how we are working in partnership with our students to ensure we can all contribute to a vibrant and dynamic research environment.
Some of the issues raised in the survey are being addressed by actions from the central support service (our Research and Innovation Office - RIO) when there are solutions that can go across the university. Some other issues emerged at local School level, so individual Schools have developed specific actions for their situation. This dual-level approach allows actions to be tailored to the context, and we are sharing best practice across the university.
We are keen to ensure our research student community stays up-to-date with how we are using the feedback to improve our student experience, and here we highlight some actions already underway.
SUPERVISION – ENU satisfaction 88%
Supervision at Edinburgh Napier achieved some of the highest ratings from our students in 2017, particularly in relation to supervisor skills and subject knowledge, regular and appropriate contact and feedback.
- In SAS a monthly supervisor’s clinic is being established to support supervisors
- SoC and the BS are focusing on improving supervisory feedback on student progress
- The SHSC are implementing a health-research focused competency framework to underpin student’s development
- RIO are raising supervisor’s awareness of our RDF planner to help support development conversations with students
- We are increasing the amount of development and training for new and experienced supervisors – running our HEA recognised ‘Supervising Research Degrees’ course each trimester in AY17/18
RESOURCES – ENU satisfaction 84%
Our last PRES results highlighted issues with office space leading several Schools to invest in renovations and extensions of student spaces. This focus on space and resources has improved our scores in this area – in the SoC there was a 17% improvement in satisfaction with working spaces and the SHSC saw a 22% improvement in satisfaction with specialist resources necessary for research. Last year also saw the launch of our Research Information Management system (Worktribe) allowing research students to have their own editable web profiles.
- The BS are working in close partnership with the subject librarian to provide specialist support to research students throughout their degree
- SEBE is upgrading PCs to provide students with the computing power they need for their projects
- RIO are providing training on using Worktribe so students can create externally facing web profiles
- Library Services are increasing guidance on how to source literature from outside the university
- Research Students now have access to greater computing storage facilities managed by Information Services
RESEARCH CULTURE – ENU satisfaction 67%
Schools actively encourage students to become involved in the research culture in each area through seminars, guest speakers and conferences. Several Schools now also have student- led journal clubs or seminar series, and competitive RIO funding has been available to students organising cross-university events.
- SACI are exploring having a student-led seminar series
- SoC are increasing the involvement of external researchers in the School’s seminar series
- SEBE is establishing a prize for the best paper published by research students in the academic year
- In this academic year we are doubling the RIO funding for researcher-led initiatives
- The Research Degree Committee is working with student reps to develop community building events
PROGRESSION AND ASSESSMENT – ENU satisfaction 80%
Our survey results suggests that students understand the requirements and deadlines for formal monitoring of their progress and the required standard for the thesis. The feedback suggests that induction is well regarded, but there were some issues with the timing.
- The BS and SAS are reviewing their local inductions
- The SHSC is developing a supervisor-led induction process for new students
- RIO has moved the university-wide induction earlier in the trimester and are following up with individualised contact with new students
- RIO are providing more training for supervisors and Independent Panel Chairs on student progress monitoring and assessment procedures
RESPONSIBILITIES – ENU satisfaction 80%
Students are aware of their supervisors’ responsibilities and their own responsibilities as a student, however students rated Edinburgh Napier lower in valuing and responding to their feedback. We are working hard to show that we are listening and responding to feedback and aim to improve this area by the next survey.
- Each School presented action plans to the Research Degrees Committee and will report on progress in April 2018.
- All student-related university-level committees now have research degree student reps allowing us to get student feedback and input into policy development and new initiatives
- In SoC school reps and the RDPL and admin staff are meeting regularly throughout the year
- In SEBE and SAS the RDPLs meet regularly with research degree students
- In SEBE students have been invited to discuss the PRES results with their RDPL to get student input to planned actions
- The SHSC has created individualised training budgets to give transparency and fair allocation of development funding to all research students
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – ENU satisfaction 81%
Over the last two years, we have invested in Vitae’s online Researcher Development Framework online planner to support students’ professional development, and three-quarters of our students feel they have developed professionally during their degree.
- RIO are continuing to provide support on the RDF planner to both staff and students
- The BS are encouraging research students to engage with its ECR network
- SACI are improving their communication of relevant events to research students
- SoC are working with supervisors to encourage a focus on the professional development of students and are providing funding to enable this
- RIO will include events with a career focus as part of its programme this year
RESEARCH SKILLS – ENU satisfaction 87%
Based on feedback in 2015 we introduced more online resources and online (WebEx) and live-streamed events during AY16/17, and this year we are expanding on this to provide a ‘just-in-time’ blended learning approach to the Researcher Development programme.
- The BS are embedding networking development events as part of their school programme
- SoC are introducing more analytical skills development courses
- The SHSC are implementing a clinical academic research leader training programme for research students
- SEBE is promoting the use of the Moodle-based Research Skills Master prepared by RIO
- We have created a new in-depth training course on ‘Teaching at University for PGRs’ which will run in both Trimesters 1 and 2 and can support students with applications for Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
- RIO are running more writing retreats and writing skills support in the Researcher Development programme
We hope this information gives you a sense of some of the actions being taken in response to research student feedback.
We value the input of our research community to this work, so if you have any comments or suggestions about PRES do get in touch with Gráinne Barkess, firstname.lastname@example.org to continue conversations and feedback about PRES.