Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2018
We are listening……

Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2018 - We are listening...

In our 2018 survey, 42% of our PGR students shared their feedback on being a research student at Edinburgh Napier. Overall satisfaction at 82%

82% 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 2% increase since 2015.

The PRES questions look at seven areas of research student experience and in all areas we are above the national average:

PRES 2018 Results

Number of PRES questions in each quartile

We last ran PRES in 2017 and since then we have made positive progress, with 26 out 30 of PRES question responses now falling in the top two sector quartiles.

The results from the survey have been 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.

We are working to ensure our research student community stays up-to-date with how the feedback is being used to improve our student experience, and here we highlight some actions already underway.

SUPERVISION – ENU satisfaction 88%

For a second consecutive year supervision at Edinburgh Napier achieved some of the highest ratings from our students. Supervisor skills and subject knowledge, and quality of feedback were the highest ratings in this area.

  • SAS will run a workshop series titled ‘SAS RPG Workshop Series’, which will incorporate opportunities to share problems and best practice. Sessions will also involve training for both students and staff concerning identification of training needs.
  • SoC and the BS remain focused on improving quality of supervisory feedback on student progress.
  • The SHSC are currently piloting a health-research focused competency framework to underpin student’s development, and intend to set up a supervisors support forum.
  • RIO are working to agree and implement a ‘supervisory agreement’ for all supervisors. Guidance is being created for students using the RDF planner, to assist training needs analysis.
  • RIO has again increased the amount of development and training for new and experienced supervisors. Our HEA recognised ‘Supervising Research Degrees’ course is to run again in each trimester of 2018/2019, as are additional courses regarding examination.

RESOURCES – ENU satisfaction 82%

Ratings for resources remained high following the substantial rise between 2015 and 2017, and while there was a marginal drop in scores for suitable working spaces and adequate provision of computing resources and facilities, provision of library facilities and access to specialist resources have continued to increase. SEBE scored extremely highly in particular, recording ratings of 100% for both library facilities, and specialist resources. SHSC has recorded a total rise of 13% from 2017 in this area, with rises of 26% and 18% being attributed to computing resources and office space respectively.

  • SACI are addressing insufficient library resources via increased awareness of alternative loan methods.
  • SAS and SoC are exploring additional office space for research students.
  • The BS are increasing awareness of routes to identify specialist resources.

RESEARCH CULTURE – ENU satisfaction 65%

The overall rating for research culture has continued to rise in 2018, with ratings for opportunities to become involved in the wider research community rising by 6% on last year. Increase has also been seen for opportunities to discuss research with other research students. SEBE once more proved an outlier with high results for each question, in particular 81% for opportunities to discuss research with other students.

  • RIO is communicating researcher development fund sponsored events to all students to increase engagement in the wider research community.
  • SACI and SAS are running student informed and student led events, both developmental and social.
  • SHSC is encouraging supervisors to involve students in their existing research networks.


A 3% rise overall in this domain from the 2017 survey is an indication that positive progress has been made in this area. Students have fed back positively with scores rising for understanding requirements and deadlines for formal process monitoring, understanding thesis requirements, and understanding final assessment procedures. We’re working hard to make sure that each student has a good induction as we know this is an area for improvement.

  • RIO are engaging with students to create a more formal research student induction process, and are improving online resources for new starters.
  • SACI and SoC are increasing visibility and clarity of assessment procedures for both students and supervisors.
  • SAS are formulating and implementing a structured school specific induction programme.
  • SHSC is producing a school handbook to ensure students have all relevant information.

RESPONSIBILITIES – ENU satisfaction 83%

A rise of 11% has occurred regarding the institution valuing and responding to feedback from students, which suggests work undertaken in response to surveys such as PRES has been valued. BS and SHSC have both scored at 100% regarding supervisory responsibilities.

  • RIO has updated and disseminated PRES information to research students to heighten awareness about the institutions responses to feedback.
  • SACI have instituted open sessions for SACI students to feed back, and are increasing communication from supervisors over their responsibilities.
  • SAS are involving students in PRES actions, and are including information on responsibilities in their boutique induction.
  • SHSC are ensuring all mechanisms for communication between the PGR community and the school are clear to communicate changes.


Overall this domain has risen by 8% since the 2017 results, with each question receiving an increase in scoring, reflecting an ongoing rise since the initial survey in 2015. Marginal rises have occurred regarding development of contacts or professional networks, and increasing management of the students own professional development, whereas sizeable rises of 8% and 11% have been recorded for development of the ability to communicate information to diverse audiences, and development of ability to manage projects. Scores are consistently high across schools, with SEBE scoring 100% approval for development of ability to manage projects, and SEBE and SACI achieving the maximum score for developing ability to communicate information.

  • RIO is building ties with graduate schools to host development events at the University.
  • SACI are forging links between supervisors and the career service to inform advice.
  • SAS is developing a series of workshops and seminars for students within their school. They will also encourage supervisors to support students in forging their own professional networks.
  • SoC is encouraging supervisors to perform 6 monthly meetings with students to provide support for project management.
  • The BS is encouraging continued use of the Vitae planner to engage research students with their development.

RESEARCH SKILLS – ENU satisfaction 93%

This domain has shown marked improvement in scoring since the 2017 survey, rising by 6% overall. Marginal increases occurred in scoring regarding development of critical analysis and evaluation skills, and development of creativity and innovation, whereas sizeable increases have occurred for development of skills in applying appropriate research methodologies and tools, and understanding of research integrity. Performance in this domain has remained consistently high across all schools, with a number reaching 100% approval for some questions.

  • RIO is increasing the scope of its events to include enterprise specific development opportunities. It is also creating a store of recorded WebEx videos to support research students remotely.
  • SACI, SAS and SoC are going to continue to incorporate research skills into their workshop and seminar programmes.
  • SHSC will look to incorporate ways to promote creativity and innovation into its 2019 CARL programme.

We hope this information gives you a sense of some of the actions being undertaken in response to research student feedback.

If you have any comments or suggestions about PRES do get in touch with Gráinne Barkess, to continue conversations and feedback about PRES.