UCL PRES 2015 – Results & Actions

PRES (Postgraduate Research Experience Survey) ran from early March until mid May 2015. This was the first time that UCL had run PRES; in previous years we ran in-house graduate surveys.

UCL's PRES 2015 results can be viewed → futher down this page. The 2015 national report is also available on the HEA website.

How the feedback was used

UCL's 11 Faculties and key Professional Services (for example UCL Careers, CALT, OVPR Research Integrity Team) reviewed the responses from their students and identified three key areas for improvement and an action plan to achieve this. Departments also discussed their own results to devise and implement local improvements.

You can review the key Faculty & Professional services actions below. If you have any further feedback on any of the issues you are welcome to get in touch with the key contact noted for the relevant area.

Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences Faculties

PRES Question: I have a suitable working space (in Resources)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
A concern raised by students in both faculties relates to lack of designated space and facilities for research students in departments In the absence of departmental attributions to the student comments, our feeling is that provision (and the demand for it) varies widely from department to department.

The first response is to gather information from departments on use of departmental space for research students and then assess the possibilities for enhancement. The need for such designated space is highlighted by the comments of research students on the difficulty in using the Main library because of the lack of a quiet scholarly atmosphere. The Deans are to be encouraged to put bids for space in the 3-year faculty plans.

Update Jan 2017
The PGR facilities survey revealed considerable disparity between departments, though a general pattern of adequate provision in most SHS departments and inadequate in most A&H departments. The Heads of those departments with notably poor provision (History in SHS; and all but The Slade and Information Studies in A&H) have been instructed to incorporate bids for appropriate PGR study space in Departmental plans to feed into Faculty 3-year plans in order to lay down a marker for Estates action in the medium/long term. In the short term, PGR students have been advised of the joint-faculty reserved PGR study space available in the IAS Common Ground (opened to PGR students in Autumn term 2016).

Ms Dania Herrera

PRES Question: Agreeing a personal training or development plan (in Skills training and advice)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
The faculties were scored poorly for the provision of an identifiable training plan.

A key problem appears to be that students are not able to identify a 'training plan' from the advice given by DGTs and supervisors on skills acquisition at the start of their studies. Secondly, there is clearly a lack of awareness of the opportunities available to offer feedback (through departmental S-SCCs and StARs on faculty-level committees) and raise complaints (through DGTs and FGTs).

The FGTs plan to use their annual briefing to DGTs/PGR Administrators to make sure that information is cascaded down to the graduate students and explain how to communicate better to students what a research training plan is.

Update Jan 2017
The FGTs did take the opportunity of their annual briefing to departmental PGR tutors and administrators to get across the message of the importance of explaining to the students what existing actions constitute identification of a training plan.

Dr Joy Sleeman,
Dr Benet Salway

PRES Question: The research ambience in my department or faculty stimulates my work (in Research culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
The extent to which UCL departments form the primary focus of research culture within their disciplines (rather than University of London School of Advanced Study institutions) varies greater across the two faculties Nevertheless at the faculty-level, since the survey the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies space has been refurbished and made available, which has provided opportunities for students to organize events and participate in events in order to build a research culture. To raise the visibility of activity the IAS website will incorporate a record of JFIGS events, with reports from the successfully funded award holders. However, an information deficit certainly exists when it comes to identifying research students with complementary interests in different departments.

The FGTs propose that the possibility be explored of extracting research topic data from the Research Student Log. This could then be used to populate a directory accessible to students, supervisors, and DGTs/PGR Administrators through the Joint Faculty website.

Update Jan 2017
Partial success here. The organisers of JFIGs-funded events in 2016 were required to submit reports afterwards so that our communications manager (Catherine.thomson@ucl.ac.uk) can now populate the JFIGs (now Octagon) webpage (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/institute-of-advanced-studies/octagon) with an account of past events in order to raise awareness of the range of interdisciplinary activity already taking place. The idea of a joint-faculty repertorium of current MPhil/PhD students' research topics has been warmly received in various quarters but extraction of the data from the Research Student Log has yet to be achieved.

Dr Joy Sleeman,
Dr Benet Salway

Brain Sciences Faculty

PRES Question: Given appropriate support and guidance for your teaching (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
53% agreement Lowest measure across UCL for all Faculties. May be an issue of expectation and/or availability of teaching opportunities for PGR students Model best practice at Faculty Arts & Humanities.
  1. Develop web notice board to advertise teaching opportunities.
  2. Develop new email list for all PGR students in the faculty.
  3. Promote uptake of Arena One and CALT training opportunities for all PGR students.
Update Jan 2017
  1. Faculty PGR Tutor discussed approach with counterpart in Arts and Humanities. Notice board found not suitable for Brain Sciences as faculty-wide opportunities are not frequent enough. Most teaching opportunities are area-specific and faculty is too diverse
  2. New email list set up and used to publicise teaching opportunities. eg PhD students paid teaching/supervision of A level students in widening participation project. Students are recruited to teach/speak at ALL faculty events including: induction day, career workshops, writing skills workshops, webinars for offer holders...
  3. We have developed a new faculty website www.ucl.ac.uk/brain-sciences/
  4. We promote Arena One programme as per advice from Arts & Humanities. Note we have small numbers of TA so Arena One is not mandatory for most of our students.
Ms Nafisa Wagley,
Dr Elvira Bramon

PRES Question: I am aware of the UCL Doctoral School Code of Practice for Research Degrees (in Doctoral School Code of Practice)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
59% agreement All PGR students receive a copy of the code of practice at the start of their time at UCL. The issue here is therefore one of awareness not access to the code.
  1. To raise awareness, DGTs can ensure that the code is distributed electronically annually to all PGR students and that's its contents are made explicit in the email.
  2. Add prominent link in Moodle to the code.
Update Jan 2017
  1. Moodle found not suitable for research students.
  2. We circulate Code of Practice to all students via email circular faculty wide. This is the preferred mode of communication (as per student feedback request)
Ms Nafisa Wagley,
Dr Elvira Bramon

PRES Question: I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department (in Research Culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
61% agreement Excellent opportunities available: Faculty Student Symposium, Neuroscience Symposium (all students invited). Three minute thesis competition. Institute specific regular seminars and journal clubs. Cross-Institute Neuroscience Domain activities. Lunchtime lectures programme. Opportunities are extensive, but we need to promote awarenes amongst students.
  1. Promote the HOUNDLY app created by UCL students, which captures all UCL events on your mobile/computer/tablet.
  2. New Faculty wide email list promoting existing events and training opportunities which students themselves sign up to.
Update Jan 2017
  1. Houndly app no longer available, thus mailing list to all registered students in faculty used instead for communication (as per students request).
  2. Multiple events for all brain sciences research students: Faculty Induction day, Brain Sciences symposium, Three minute thesis competition, careers orientation afternoon, the Neuroscience annual symposium.
  3. New faculty website with testimonials from a range of students across brain sciences.
Ms Nafisa Wagley,
Dr Elvira Bramon

Built Environment Faculty

PRES Question in Resources

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Space – but this point also relates obliquely to other issues Students perceive lack of space and desire to be collocated with supervisors. However we believe the lack of space does not only impinge on the 'space' theme, but that there are knock-on effects: students who are deterred from coming into the department then lose out on many other opportunities for social contact, tacit learning, networking, informal contact with supervisors and other academics, and knowledge of what is going on, including training opportunities, etc. In other words, what may appear to be a 'lack of training' under one heading could be the result of a student so disengaged because they rarely come in, that they miss out on awareness of opportunities for training (etc).

Raise awareness of this issue with Doctoral School and with Dean – this needs communication to Estates and to Heads of Department - this problem cannot be solved by Faculty Graduate Tutors and Departmental Graduate Tutors alone or even primarily by FGT/DGTs.

Update Mar 2017

This issue has been raised whenever we can. Recently, new improved facilities for Bartlett School of Architecture were opened at 22 Gordon St. We have also drawn attention to departments that space and time are interlinked: students completing faster means less demand on space.

Prof Stephen Marshall

PRES Question in Progression

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Timeliness of completion, time management awareness and training The Bartlett has had historically low submission rates within the prescribed time

(1) Investigation into reasons for low submission rates; (2) a series of revisions to procedures culminating in a new set of procedures commencing September 2015; this includes (a) increased emphasis on time management and use of the Research Log to help fulfil Code of Practice expectations; (b) tightened criteria for entering CRS status; (3) Academic sufficiency review for those exceeding 4 years – need for positive supervisorial endorsement or else face Academic Insufficiency proceedings; (3) Training sessions for both doctoral students and supervisors, to encourage compliance with new procedures.

Update Mar 2017

All of these are continuing. Renewed asustained attention to this issue has been communicated to all DGTs following meeting with Doctoral School. A latest batch of letters from the faculty to doctoral students at 48 months has been sent.

Prof Stephen Marshall

PRES Question in Skills Training and Advice

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Training Results for training and supervisorial training could be better

(1) Training for doctoral students and supervisors, on overall processes (see above); (2) Proposed ‘supervisorial soirée’ – informal session for all grades of staff (including senior staff experts in field but possibly inexperienced as supervisors); (3) training review of what training can be best provided at faculty level.

Update Mar 2017

The next batch of training for doctoral students and supervisors will be in May. Training review has been carried out and we put out a call for staff to lead training initiatives – 3 initiatives were generated (these involve more than 3 events) and will be reported on in due course (these will take place iby June 2017).

Prof Stephen Marshall

PRES Question in Research Culture

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Sense of isolation Doctoral students may feel isolated

Ongoing initiatives (predating the PRES survey) to get doctoral students talking to each other across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. There is a set of doctoral networks running which bring together doctoral students and staff across the Bartlett and beyond: https://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett-doctoral-networks Events are also advertised via a Twitter account as well as traditional means: https://twitter.com/TheBartlettPhD

Update Mar 2017

These are ongoing. We are also funding two doctoral conference events (by June 2017). Our Twitter account recently passed 1000 followers; this of itself is not a reliable indication of engagement (not all followers are our doctoral students) but can be seen as part of the social mix as well as having training purpose - e.g. passing on generic academic community advice on academic writing etc.

Engineering Sciences Faculty

PRES Questions:
I am aware of the UCL Doctoral School Code of Practice for Research Degrees (in Doctoral School Code of Practice)
Other than my supervisor/s, I know who to approach if I am concerned about any aspect of my degree programme (in Responsibilities)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts

Improving awareness of the Doctoral School Code of Practice for Graduate Research Degrees.

The awareness was recorded in 2015 as 51%. The Code of Practice is the key document outlining the roles and responsibilities of students, supervisors and Departmental Graduate Tutors. It is important therefore that students are aware of the existence and content of the Code. The PRES also demonstrates a poor awareness of who students should approach if they encounter problems (33% of students being unaware). Improved awareness of the Code should also help to address this metric (and others).

Awareness of the Code of Practice will be increased by the promotion of the Code during induction, at the start of each academic year (for continuing students) and at key points in a student's programme (upgrade, examination entry and so forth). A link to the Code should be prominently displayed on the website or Moodle page used as the primary departmental source of information for research degree students.

Update Jan 2017
Departments all provide clear links from websites and/or Moodle courses to the Doctoral School information page on which the Code of Practice is hosted. A significant number provide direct and prominent links to the document itself. Moving forwards we will be reinforcing the need for departments to highlight the code directly. The Code of Practice is referred to in departmental inductions for new students. In addition, a number of departments send emails to students specifically highlighting the Code of Practice. We are still working towards improving awareness for continuing students and practice in this regard is more variable across the Faculty. Some departments run refresher inductions, send all students updated handbooks and send reminder emails; this is considered best practice but is not yet seen in all parts of the Faculty. This will be raised as at the next meeting of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee.

Dr Simon Banks

PRES Questions:
I received an appropriate induction to my research degree programme (in Progression)
The final assessment procedures for my degree are clear to me (in Progression)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts

Improving induction and awareness of formal deadlines

FES is at the bottom of the range in UCL for the “Progression” group of questions, with 45% of respondents believing that they did not receive an adequate induction and 34% indicating that the final assessment procedures are not clear to them. Identifying weaknesses in induction and the information provided to students throughout their programmes would address issues that underpin many of the themes of the PRES.

Departments will review their induction procedures and the material provided to students (departments are encouraged to convene Graduate Studies Committees under whose remit this will fall). Continuing students will be given refresher inductions at the start of each academic year. Material explaining key policies and procedures (with deadlines) will be prominently displayed on the website or Moodle page used as the primary source of information for research degree students. A Faculty level induction process is being developed.

Update Jan 2017
The Faculty has made strides towards implementing always days for new students. Five events of three days each have been booked at Cumberland Lodge for the 2017/18 session. These trips, covering presentation skills, research ethics, team building and so forth will complement, not replace, departmental inductions. It is common practice for departmental research student websites/Moodle courses to link to the Doctoral School website for information but less common for key policies to be explicitly highlighted and discussed directly. FRDC will continue to ask departments to (a) do more to give prominence to key policies on websites and (b) send targeted emails to students at key stages in their programme. The Faculty has recently introduced a Moodle page for all StARs. We will be discussing with the Faculty PGR StAR how the StARs network can be used to help promote awareness of the Code of Practice and other key policies.

Dr Simon Banks

PRES Questions:
I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students (in Research Culture)
I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department (in Research Culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts

Improving the Research Culture

Our performance in this area is broadly in line with UCL and sector averages and the Faculty wishes to improve on this position in the coming years. A number (36%) of students report feeling that there are insufficient opportunities for discussing their research with other students. In addition, 39% report feeling disconnected from the wider research community beyond their department. The Faculty Doctoral Strategy emphasises the importance of collaboration both within and between departments (including with those outside the Faculty). In this context, improving the experience of “research culture” must be seen as a priority.

Departments are encouraged to create and promote journal clubs, student-run research seminars, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition and other means of bringing students from different research groups together. Departments should be active in advertising seminars that take place in related disciplines outside the department and should seek to identify and promote inter-departmental events for research students. The planned Faculty induction process will also go some way to building links between students in different departments.

Update Jan 2017
There is a great deal of activity in this area across the Faculty. All departments now run 3MT competitions. There are numerous other activities including, research student conferences, PGR delivered seminar series (with written feedback), numerous social events and lunches with staff, poster days etc. Journal Clubs do not seem to be popular so far. Interdisciplinarity is inherent in the research of many students who already interact with more than one department. Beyond that the promotion of inter-departmental activities has not taken off as initially planned. FRDC will consider whether this is through lack of demand from students or lack of the infrastructure required to embed such activities. The new Faculty away days and inter-faculty (joint with MAPS) dilemma game sessions remain excellent opportunities for students to network outside their departments. We will also be discussing with the Faculty PGR StAR how the StARs network can be used to build inter-departmental links.

Dr Simon Banks

Institute of Education Faculty

PRES Question: I have a suitable working space (in Resources)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Spaces Some spaces available to students have been poorly managed; many are also unaware of spaces available to them, particularly post-merger. We have developed new policies for the use of postgraduate study rooms, and are implementing these. We are also developing a guide to the spaces available to our students, within the IOE and across UCL more broadly. We are considering the provision of new spaces as part of our Estates Masterplan. Prof Martin Oliver

PRES Question: Taught (or demonstrated) during research degree programme (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Opportunities for teaching In a primarily postgraduate institution, there are relatively few opportunities for our doctoral students to teach on undergraduate programmes. We have reviewed our use of PGTAs, and reflected UCL's policy. We are documenting the processes through which course teams can recruit and appoint PGTAs, to make this easier. We have developed the “Would like to teach...” website, which allows students to identify opportunities at other institutions, and are working with CALT to see whether this can be taken up more widely. Prof Martin Oliver

PRES Question: My ability to communicate information effectively to diverse audiences has developed during my programme (in Professional Development)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Skills development (some aspects) Many of our students are mid-career professionals, and so are already highly skilled; we are not surprised that “development” was rated at a relatively low level. However, we considered this specific aspect of skills development to be under-represented in our existing training programme. We are reviewing our research training provision to identify areas where such communication skills could be incorporated. We have developed and offered UCL-wide training on Digital Scholarship, with ISD. We are working with ISD on projects to introduce blogging and social networking platforms to provide the infrastructure for such communication. Prof Martin Oliver

PRES Questions:
I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students (in Research culture)
The research ambience in my department or faculty stimulates my work (in Research culture)
I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department (in Research culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Research Culture The majority of our students are part-time and/or distributed; although the IOE has the largest concentration of doctoral researchers in education in the country, many identify with specific research teams rather than departments or with the faculty as a whole, which contributes to fragmentation. These issues have been discussed with the Departmental Graduate Tutors and with the Senior Research Lead for each department. We have asked each department to develop an action plan to identify and develop opportunities for doctoral student engagement. We are particularly interested in developments, such as broadcasting seminars, which would include our part-time and distributed students more systematically. Prof Martin Oliver

Laws Faculty

PRES Question: Given appropriate support and guidance for your teaching (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
We scored above the UCL average in 4 more categories:
  • Research culture (Laws 78%, UCL 67%)
  • Progression (88%/74%)
  • Responsibilities (92%/75%)
  • Research Skills (93%/85%)
We scored at the UCL average in 2 categories
  • Supervision (81%)
  • Professional Development (76%)
We scored below the UCL average in only 2 areas:
  • Resources (Laws 64%/UCL 82%)
  • Teaching (33%/54%)

Teaching Support & Guidance – Through our new PhD Skills Development Programme, we aim to increase the percentage of our students who say they are given appropriate support and guidance for their teaching (33%). A special workshop on Teaching is now included in the Laws PhD Skills Programme, and Laws PhD students are encouraged to apply for Teaching Fellow posts in the Laws Faculty.

Update Jan 2017
The teaching workshop is scheduled for later this year and all students will be invited as requested by the doctoral school. The faculty is also requiring PGTAs attend Arena courses up to a higher level than mandated by UCL. This was not in place when most of last year's students and PRES respondees were teaching for the first time and we envisage that programme will have a very significant impact

Dr Virginia Mantouvalou

PRES Question: Agreeing a personal training or development plan (in Skills training and advice>

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
As above

Skills Training and Advice – Through our new PhD Skills Development Programme, we aim to increase the percentage of our students who say they have agreed a personal training or development plan (17%).

Update Jan 2017
We have communicated to students the importance of the Personal Development and Training Plan with an aim of getting this to 60% by the end of the year. We will check on uptake three times in this period and chase students in order to get this up

Dr Virginia Mantouvalou

PRES Question: I have a suitable working space (in Resources)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
As above

Resources – While the UCL average on who said they had a suitable working space was 72%, in Laws this was 44%. This reflects the fact that the Laws Faculty building (Bentham House) is currently being redeveloped and the whole Faculty is in temporary accommodation until 2017-18. There will be new and improved workspace for our PhD students once we return to Bentham House.

Update Jan 2017
The existing temporary workspace has been improved. The Dean met with students and discussed their needs and a budget was made available to the students. The space is now significantly better. Regular meetings are in place with student reps to indentify any further issues as they arise

Dr Virginia Mantouvalou

Life Sciences Faculty

PRES Question: I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department (in Research culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
58% agreement. Student report lack of engagement with wider community In some departments there is broad range of research training programmes and they do not appear to be integrated. Labs and departments are spread all over the campus. Seminar programmes do not reflect interest of all students. In addition closure of NIMR has also had an effect on research culture.

There is no shortage of events and meetings, where students could meet and interact with each other and the wider community. This needs to be advertised widely. Supervisors and DGT to encourage:

a) student participation in UCL wide research interactions and attendance at national and international conferences
b) students to join a relevant professional learned society and participate in society meetings
c) students to attend student led annual research symposiums, faculty research days, divisional lectures, Departmental PhD symposiums, and UCL poster competition

All FLS seminars and student events to be advertised via PhD webpages and DGT to encourage PhD student participation. In addition Faculty has already introduced a buddy scheme, 3 min thesis competition and research integrity. Plan to introduce a Faculty Xmas Lecture and Xmas party for students.

PRES Questions:
My supervisor helped me to identify my training and development needs as a researcher (in Supervision)
agreeing a personal training and development needs (in Skills training and advice)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts

63% agreement – Students report little help from supervisor with training and development needs.

27% agreement – little help with personal training and development needs

Problem here seems to be one of misunderstanding by both students and supervisors, what is meant by training and development needs. It is clear that 27% of our students believe they did not receive any help from their supervisor to identify their training and development need (Q2-4a) Clearly students are unable to identify a training and development programme from the information provided by the supervisor, DGT and the Doctoral School and UCL wide information on the Web. This therefore needs to be addressed at both the student and supervisor levels.

It is also surprising that the students did not provide feedback on this issue via the SSCC committee. Is this due to them not knowing who and how to provide the feedback?

Faculty will communicate to both student and staff about their responsibilities in developing training and development needs, this includes research training needs as well as personal training and development needs. Starting from September 2016, each supervisor to agree a personal training and development plan with each student. This should be recorded and reviewed once a year by DGT.
DGT's to create Research training seminars (RTS) to cover Careers, Research integrity/ethics/key contacts/ how to provide feedback, Code of Practice, use of Research Student Log, 3 minute thesis talks and how to identify student training and development needs.

PRES Questions:
I understand the required standard for my thesis (Q8-3a in Progression)
The final assessment procedure for my degree are cleat to me (Q8-4a in Progression)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Q8-3a 69% agreement; Q8-4a 68% agreement. Together with Engineering we have the lowest agreement score in UCL. Research Training Seminars on upgrade process and thesis submission. These will be delivered at Departmental levels. This will be complemented by “essential skills” programme which is being developed by the Doctoral Skills Development team as part of a “student passport” and includes PhD standard and assessment procedures.

PRES Question: My institution values and responds to feedback from research degree standards (in Responsibility)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Agreement 54%. There is low agreement across UCL, but our score is in the third Quartile We had a very good response rate to PRES questionnaire and amongst these we had a large number of MRes and First year students from 4 year PhD programmes. These students do not attend all the induction and training sessions. We will make sure that in the future we engage all MRes and PhD rotation students with our PhD strategy. SSCC will be encouraged to obtain the views of all PhD, MRes students before the SSCC meetings. PhD administrators have been asked to draft a Life Sciences PGR online survey for annual completion by students and submit to DGT for consideration.

Mathematical & Physical Sciences Faculty

PRES Question: I received an appropriate induction to my research degree programme (in Progression)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
At 66%, this score was 4% behind the overall university score, and joint second lowest of all faculties. Some students reported a good experience of their induction, but it is evident that others had not had the same experience - sometimes because they had joined the department mid-way through a term or academic year. One of the issues appears to be an unevenness across the faculty with regard to the kind of basic information available to students.

The Faculty is in the process of developing a faculty-wide template for PGR student handbook, for departments / programmes to use as part of local induction programmes.

Update Jan 2017
The MAPS Faculty Research Student Handbook, compiled in association with the Faculty's PGR StAR, was launched in September 2016, and distributed to all departments. In November 2016 we also held a Faculty-wide Welcome Event. This was aimed at first year research students and their supervisors, to introduce them to the Faculty and to allow students new in different disciplines across the Faculty an informal space to get to know one another. The event was enjoyed by those who attended, and the Faculty plans to run another event in November 2017.

Dr Caroline Essex

PRES Question: My understanding of 'research integrity' (e.g. rigour, ethics, transparency, attributing the contribution of others) has developed during my programme (in Research Skills)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
At 79%, this score was 5% behind the overall university score. It is clear from the PRES comments that engagement with the research integrity aspect of doctoral education is patchy in the faculty: the comments report some pockets of excellence, but it is clear that this is not a uniform experience for all students.

In collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, MAPS is running training for year 1 PhD students in the summer of 2015-16. The format uses the Dilemma Game, with one member of research-active staff drawn from the two faculties facilitating the sessions (max. 20 students per session). The purpose of the collaboration between the two faculties is to emphasise to students that different disciplines may conceive of research dilemmas in different ways.

Update Jan 2017
Both MAPS and Engineering collaborated in 2015-16 to provide integrity training for students across both faculties, in mixed disciplinary groups. A survey was sent out after each session in order to gather feedback to assess the effectiveness. 56 responses were received; of those who replied, 66% felt that the sessions had been useful or very useful, and 84% felt that the training had been engaging or very engaging. Students commented that they found the different disciplinary perspectives enlightening, but that we might improve it by providing more information about how to apply this in specific situations. The Faculty is working on ways to incorporate this activity into departmental practices, so that issues specific to disciplines can be worked through by students and staff.

Dr Caroline Essex

PRES Question: My institution values and responds to feedback from research degree students (in Responsibilities)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
53% of the 316 students who responded to this question agreed, and this was the lowest score for MAPS. This issue was not picked up explicitly in the PRES comments, but it is apparent that students answering this question felt that there was little evidence of feeling listened to and having their concerns taken seriously.

Over the course of the 2015-16 academic session, the Faculty has instituted a Faculty Staff-Student Consultative Committee, chaired by the Faculty Tutor and attended by the Faculty StARs and the Dean. This has been instrumental in coordinating responses to issues from departments, and the Faculty PGR StAR has been very active in terms of reporting issues to the Faculty, and reporting back to his peers the responses. In 2016-17, we plan to establish a Faculty PGR Student Committee run by the departmental StARs, the aim being to ensure that the Faculty PGR StAR has some support in undertaking this important role. The intention is that this Committee would have a responsibility in making sure that issues the PGR cohorts care about are communicated adequately.

Update Jan 2017
The MAPS Faculty Staff-Student Consultative Committee has continued to meet to discuss issues of relevance to all student cohorts - undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research. The current Faculty PGR StAR is actively engaging with her peers in departments to garner issues that require escalation. As a result of feedback we have received via this forum, we are currently working on improving skills training for PGR students in conjunction with ISD and the Doctoral Skills Training Manager, particularly to ensure that students have access to the computer and programming skills courses they need for their research. The Faculty is working with departments to establish the Faculty PGR Student Committee, using the model of a ‘lead StAR’ to be nominated by each department. The aim will be for this Committee to assist the Faculty PGR StAR in running events such as the Students' Research Festival.

Dr Caroline Essex

Medical Sciences Faculty

PRES Questions:
I am aware of the UCL Doctoral School Code of Practice for Research Degrees (in Doctoral School Code of Practice)
Other than my supervisor/s, I know who to approach if I am concerned about any aspect of my degree programme (in Responsibilities)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts

Improving awareness of the Doctoral School Code of Practice for Graduate Research Degrees.

The faculty was in the third quartile for this area. The Doctoral School Code of Practice is the key document for PGR students it outlines the roles and responsibilities of students, supervisors and Departmental Graduate Tutors. All PGR students receive a copy of this document when they begin their programme of study. There is an obvious disconnect here and a strategy for raising awareness of the Code of Practice is needed The PRES results also show that a third of PGR students do not know who to approach if they encounter problems. Information regarding this is contained within the Doctoral School Code of Practice and therefore an increased awareness is again important.

The Faculty discussed this at a recent Faculty Research and Teaching meeting and decided that the importance of Code of Practice would be emphasised at every opportunity. Clearly the students are made aware of the existence of this document at induction but this will be emphasised. A further promotion of the document will be at the upgrade and at other Divisional and Faculty events (see development of Centres for Post Graduate Training). A Moodle page will be set up by each Division which will be a single point of information for all aspects of PGR life. A Faculty webpage will also be produced to support this. Dr David Spratt

PRES Question: Taught (or demonstrated) during research degree programme (Key: % agree for “Yes”) (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
The faculty was in the third quartile for this area. PGR students in the Faculty do not get enough (any) opportunities to teach. While the Faculty accepts that not all PGR students wish to teach it also acknowledges that opportunities to teach are not available to all of those that wish to. Teaching is an important part of professional skills development and can lead to a valuable qualification. Teaching by PGR students does occur throughout the Divisions in the Faculty and is likely to increase with the increase in UG programmes. Currently there is no system for advertising teaching opportunities or selecting PRG students to teach. Improve how Divisions advertise PGR teaching opportunities and how students are selected and trained. In consultation with the Divisions the Faculty will develop a process to allow, clear advertising, recruitment and appropriate training. Each Division will also discuss the appropriateness of an Arena 1 teaching qualification for suitable PGR students Dr David Spratt

PRES Question: I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department (in Research culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
The PRES data show that the Faculty was the graded very low in this category. While PGR students seem content with discussing their work and engaging with other PGR students in the local environment (lab, research group etc.) they felt that opportunities beyond this were limited. One of the issues is that a number of the Divisions in the Faculty are split over 2 or more sites and this geography can prove challenging when organising meetings etc. Currently a number of opportunities are available for PGR students to engage with the wider research community (e.g. the Dean's Research Prize event and the 3MT competition) but these are not well attended. Better Faculty and Divisional engagement with the students and their supervisors regarding these vents is needed. Several Divisions are working on organising all their PGRs into a single cohort (e.g. Centre for Post Graduate Training at the Eastman) to allow better information transfer, engagement and networking. The Faculty intend to work with these Divisions to refine and roll out these plans. It will also encourage the other Divisions to adopt this system for PGRs. We hope that this system will allow student engagement with peers, joint events, training etc. Faculty also intends to organise additional events (to bring Divisions together) e.g. the Faculty Research Day. The Faculty will also engage further with students and supervisors to raise awareness and attendance at current Faculty events aimed at student networking e.g. the Dean's research prize day, 3 Minute Thesis Completion and the Doctoral School Poster Competition. Dr David Spratt

Population Health Sciences Faculty

PRES Question: Teaching opportunities and support (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Our faculty scored very poorly in all of the questions relating to teaching opportunities and training. This was not a surprise as it has been raised many times at our SSCCs. We acknowledge the problem since we were created from Institutes without any undergraduate courses. We do now have an early-stage, therefore small, BSc course, although this will not satisfy the general needs of PGR students. We aim to improve access to teaching opportunities for our research students. This has been formally raised at our Faculty FRC and all DGTs need to increase communication with their students about teaching training (through Arena) and opportunities. Opportunities will vary between Institutes, with some already involving their students in MSc teaching. All of our Institutes are being asked to consider increasing this involvement (along with payment for such contact time); this also relates to the Connected Curriculum. We are also now providing contacts points for teaching outside FPHS such as through http://www.wouldliketoteach.org. Opportunities will nevertheless remain restricted in the medium term. Dr Andrew Stoker

PRES Questions:
I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students (Q6.2 in Research culture)
The research ambience in my department or faculty stimulates my work (Q6.3 in Research culture)
Main motivation for pursuing a research degree programme (Key: % agree for: My interest in the subject.) (Q24)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts

Q6.2 – At 64% we matched the UCL average. However, this could be significantly improved.

Q6.3 – At 67% we were slightly above the UCL mean of 65%. Nevertheless, we feel this is too low and needs to be addressed as it may reflect deeper issues.

Q24 – At 25% this was quite disturbing.

Our collective response to these three PRES responses is to aspire to create a greater sense of “belonging and identity” among our students across all the faculty's institutes. We feel that these responses reflect an underlying problem of isolation by some students, being situated in perhaps de-motivating environments. Why only 25% said they were doing a degree because of subject interest is unclear. Again though, by generating a faculty cohort feel for PGR students, we hope to partly address this issue. We have recently run our first Faculty PGR Student Symposium day, with a poster competition and final of the 3MT competition. This went well, but attendance was only modest. We will build on this for next year. We are encouraging the generation of more student societies in our Institutes and/or greater sharing of events run by the existing ICH Society. At the start of the next academic year, we plan to have the first Faculty level induction/welcome day for all our PGR students. With short talks by key postholders in the faculty and possibly informal presentations by existing students, or 3MT presentations, we aim to engender a genuine “faculty cohort feel” that will continue to grow as they progress through their degrees. Dr Andrew Stoker

PRES Questions:
My ability to communicate information effectively to diverse audiences has developed during my programme (Q14.2 in Professional development)
Receiving advice on career options (Q16.4 in Skills training and advice)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts

Q14.2 – We scored 78%, just above the UCL mean, but feel we can improve on this important area.

Q16.4 – We scored 78%, just above the UCL mean, but feel we can improve on this important area.

Communication is a key aspect of training for PGR students and this can be gained in many ways. In particular we are keen to promote communication to non-specialist audiences and enterprise. We are also focused on providing better careers advice. We have encouraged engagement with the 3MT competition and we aim to encourage many more students to take part in coming years. This showcases skills in communicating to non-specialists. We are also in the process of providing information for PGR students on our faculty webpages, with resources and PGR case studies relating to public understanding of science. A new, student-led venture into podcasting of our faculty's research is about to start and this will be aimed at a wide audience. We are now providing a wider range of careers talks, workshops and we are planning increased contact with alumni, to help PGR students with their career choices and employability. We also need to focus on more coordinated provision of statistics and leadership training. Dr Andrew Stoker

Teaching

PRES Question: My supervisor/s help me to identify my training and development needs as a researcher (in Supervision)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
That the weakest area of supervision was: 'My supervisor/s help me to identify my training and development needs as a researcher'.

CALT and the Doctoral School are currently reviewing doctoral supervision development provision at UCL and have recommended to Research Degrees Committee a more holistic suite of training activities and an expansion of online resources. The revised provision for 2016/17 will include training and resources to help supervisors work with students on their personal and professional development needs. We will also work with OD to ensure the Research Log is promoted and utilised as a tool for supervisors and students to identify training and development needs.

Update Jan 2017
CALT staff have begun co-presenting at Supervisor Training events. Plans are being developed to increase the level of interaction at these events to support greater engagement. A connected Curriculum working group for postgraduate matters has had its first meetings. The research log is being promoted to supervisors at the introductory sessions.

CALT
Dr Alex Standen

PRES Question: Taught (or demonstrated) during research degree programme (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
That 45% of respondents indicated they have taught (or demonstrated) during their research degree programme, compared to a sector average of 50%.

CALT is currently reviewing with UCL IOE colleagues their website www.wouldliketoteach.org, to assess its use and effectiveness as a resource for doctoral researchers to find teaching opportunities. As part of the Connected Curriculum CALT is considering informal ways for doctoral students to gain teaching experience, for example via departmental and faculty mentoring schemes. CALT will update the Researcher Development Working Group on both matters at the next meeting.

Update Jan 2017
HR, OVPESA and CALT had a recent meeting about this issue. HR are drafting a response to the UCLU report with input from the rest of the group, framed around the 10 points in the NUS postgraduate employment charter which will offer guidance to departments about best practice but also make some suggestions re structures and roles to try and ensure a better consistency of approach and support. UCLU and the Doctoral school will be invited to the next meeting of this group.

CALT
Dr Alex Standen

PRES Questions:
Given appropriate support and guidance for your teaching (in Teaching)
Received formal training for your teaching (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
That 54% of respondents were given ‘appropriate support and guidance’ and 48% ‘received formal training’ for their teaching.

Since September 2014, CALT has offered a new provision for all PhD students with teaching responsibilities via the Arena One programme. To date there have been 1,182 participants in 27 one-off Gateway workshops and 209 participants in nine cohorts of the Teaching Associate Programme. More workshops and courses are scheduled for the remainder of 2015/16 and we will continue to ensure that staff and students are aware of this provision through our established channels of communication (Departmental Administrators, Faculty Tutors, etc.). CALT would be happy to discuss with Research Degrees Committee ways forward to ensure that all PGRs experience initial development.

Update Jan 2017

CALT has continued to expand the provision of training for PGTAs and increased the number of places in response to demand. The number of attendees was as follows for 2015-16:

GATEWAY (mandatory 3 hour introduction to teaching): 13 Sessions
Gateway 15/16 Average Feedback 4.1
Total attendants 318

TAP (Teaching Associate Programme, leading to Associate fellowship of the HEA):two terms with 3 groups in each, course lasting 5 weeks:
TAP 15/16 Average feedback 4.5
Total attendants 110

2016-17

GATEWAY 14 Sessions
Gateway 16/17 (up to 13 Jan 17) Average feedback 4.4
Attendants up to 13 January (10 sessions): 400

(participants who registered for the next four sessions: 150 at the moment and increasing every day).

TAP: two terms with 3 groups in each, course lasting 5 weeks:
TAP 16/17 (Autumn Term only) Average 4.4
Total attendants 160ish

101 have been allocate a place for the TAP starting on the 23 January 2017.

CALT
Dr Alex Standen

Careers

PRES Questions:
Receiving advice on career options (Q16.4 in Skills training)
Receiving training to develop my transferable skills (Q16.3 in Skills training)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts

Q16.4 – Percentages for those who had received advice on career options was very low. Ranging from 13% (IoE) to 43% (Population Health Sciences).

Note: Nationally, only 29% of research students reported receiving careers advice

Q16.3 – Note: UCL Careers provides transferable skills workshops delivered by Careers Consultants and Employers

Only around half of researchers across the faculties had accessed such training. The lowest was Social & Historical Sciences (34%), the highest Population Health Sciences (63%).

From the way the question is phrased it is not clear whether respondents are referring to accessing advice from PIs, within departments, from UCL Careers or other sources. There was at least one comment in the free text for ‘Professional Development’ relating to Careers Advice from PI's being variable.

A stated objective in The UCL Careers Strategic Plan for 2016 – 19 is to work more closely with key stakeholders; OD, The Doctoral School and the faculties to support researchers with academic career development, possibly through faculty – based teams

We are aware that only a minority of UCL researchers engage with our services: The UCL Research Student Survey (2012, p 47) found that only 27% had engaged in a UCL Careers activity, and only 6% had had a one to one appointment with a Careers Consultant.

It must be noted that more UCL students have received careers advice than the national average for 10 out of 13 UCL Faculties.

Not all researchers may be aware of our services. Several comments in the free text for ‘Prof. Dev.’ and ‘Overall Experience’ asked for services we already provide (e.g. requests for CV building, one to one support)

Disparities in careers advice accessed across faculties may represent underlying career priorities of researchers.
– The national PRES survey in 2015 found that those studying Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences are more likely to pursue an academic career than STEM and Healthcare students (PRES 2015. The Research Student Journey, p 15)
– Those who are set on an academic career path may be more inclined to access advice from PIs or within their department, rather than from UCL Careers.

  1. Enhanced communication of existing events, services and online resources (see point 4. Below) by regular mailing of key faculty stakeholders e.g. graduate tutors
  2. Targeted mailing of sector – specific careers events for researchers to specific departments / faculties where appropriate.
  3. Separate promotion of our support for researchers wishing to progress their academic careers through one to one advice with our specialist consultants and academically – focussed careers workshops.
  4. We are aware that there are a finite number of workshop, events and one to one slots available, and not all researchers will be able to access these in person. To address this:
    – we have created an online library of non-academic career stories to enhance options awareness
    – we are creating pre-recorded seminars (webcasts) that examine common non-academic career destinations of researchers in each of the three research schools.
UCL Careers
Dr Calum Leckie

PRES free text comments

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
  1. Problems with part time and off campus researchers accessing training (5 comments)
  2. Requests for more courses, online resources, evening provision (5 comments)
  3. Requests for placement / internship opportunities (3 comments – life sciences)

We are continuing to develop online information, that currently includes some pre-recorded seminars, and event podcasts. These are hosted at www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/researchers

Some of our workshops are now delivered in the early evening

Levels of internship / placement activity from the PRES survey are very low across UCL. This ranges from 21% of Brain Sciences Students to 0% of Laws students

In 2015 / 2016 we have enhanced our UCL Talent Bank service with the aim of providing graduate, and internship opportunities that are targeted at UCL Researchers. Since early 2015 69 researcher – targeted opportunities have been posted, with 18 of these being internships

  1. We will continue to provide some early evening workshops for those students who have day time commitments
  2. We are expanding our library of online, pre-recorded seminars for the benefit of those students who cannot attend our workshops in person. New sessions to be created by summer 2016 non – academic career options for researchers.
  3. Our ‘UCL Talent’ Bank service includes work experience / placement opportunities. We aim to deliver some specific marketing of this service to research students in the Spring / Summer of 2016 so that interested research students can more easily access such opportunities
UCL Careers
Dr Calum Leckie

IT Support

PRES Question: There is adequate provision of computing resources and facilities (in Resources)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts *
Dissatisfaction with computing resources and facilities Many research postgraduates will use departmentally rather than institutionally-provided computers, but all will use wifi and most will use Print@UCL and the Service Desk. ISD is developing an action plan covering a wide range of areas of IT provision, priortising problem areas highlighted in the recent IT survey. Actions which are of relevance to postgraduates are listed below: ISD
Dr Fiona Strawbridge
Student computers – major capital investment (>£1m) in FY15/16 is being used to replace old computers and increase the number of student computers, including 156 additional laptops for loan. ISD
Mr Paul Bart
ISD has carried out a number of improvements to desktop services in AY 15/16, including increasing the underlying server hardware and upgrading the supporting environment to the latest version. Desktop@UCL – Storage is being added to those Desktop@UCL machines which are in need of additional capacity. ISD
Mr Anthony Peacock
As above Desktop@UCL Anywhere – Additional hardware will be installed by the end of the academic year and will further increase the responsiveness and reliability of the Desktop@UCL Anywhere service as well as increasing the number of concurrent logins the system can support. We are planning projects to run AY 16/17 which will address some of the underlying problems with the desktop service as a whole. ISD
Mr Anthony Peacock
Wi-Fi – additional capital investment of £700k in 2016/17 will add 250 wifi access points, significantly boosting both coverage and capacity. ISD
Mr Mike Turpin
Print@UCL – There are cost and leasing challenges which are making it difficult to add more printers so ISD is reviewing reports on printer usage and redeploying low volume printers to high volume areas. ISD are also pressing the supplier to improve reliability, and boosting the visibility of local 'print reps' to ensure that faults are reported and addressed swiftly. ISD
Mrs Rita Testa
*) Contact details for staff member if students wish to provide feedback further

Doctoral Skills Development

PRES Question: Agreeing a personal training or development plan (in Skills training and advice)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
33% of respondents agreed or mostly agreed with the statement, which is significantly lower than the sector average (45%) The ability to identify training needs, to self-assess against the Researcher Development Framework, is a core part of a researcher's development and identified within UCL Doctoral Strategy.

DSDP manager will contribute enhanced training for new supervisors, to highlight the breadth of training opportunities available through the DSDP and to emphasise supervisor's special role in encouraging and supporting the professional development and employability of postgraduate researchers.

The Doctoral Skills Development Programme will enhance induction for new postgraduate researchers, to encourage self-assessment, promote the Doctoral Skills offering and the importance of working closely with the supervisors to agree training and periodically update a training plan.

DSDP will continue to support and collaborate with UCL Careers, including commissioning Career Management and Employability courses, workshops and employer-led forums. This provision encourages students to begin self-assessing skills, identifying their preferences and potential career options from the outset of the research degree.

Update Jan 2017
Enhanced training for supervisors is underway and under review in collaboration with CALT and the Doctoral School. The Doctoral Skills Development Programme (UCL Doc Skills) manager has contributed to two sessions thus far in 2016-17 and emphasised the need for supervisors to agree a personal development plan with research students.

The UCL Doc Skills and Research Log Induction has been overhauled in 2016-17 and delivered on three separate occasions to the new intake of postgraduate researchers. It now includes specific emphasis on the value and importance of professional and personal development for researchers; exercises to encourage reflective learning and self-assessment using the Researcher Development Framework; data on the career outcomes of doctoral graduates and examples of role models with successful careers within and outside of academia; guidance on how to use the Research Log and make the best of the Doc Skills programme; and an informal question and answer session that provides a meeting point for students and the UCL Doc Skills team. In this session the Chair of the Doctoral School and Doc Skills team specifically address the need for agreeing a personal development plan with your supervisor.

The new DSDP manager has begun working closely with the UCL Careers team to ensure responsiveness and facilitate the ongoing provision of extensive careers support for postgraduate researcher

Organisational Development
Dr Rochelle Rowe

PRES Question: Receiving training to develop my transferable skills (in Skills training and advice)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
47% of respondents agreed or mostly agreed with the statement, which is significantly lower than the sector average (50%) A researcher's ability to self-reflect and identify these skills is a key part of the UCL Doctoral Strategy to develop research leaders able to 'confront society's grand challenges in both academic and non-academic roles'. We will investigate this further as it may indicate a lack of awareness of transferability of skills postgraduate researchers will develop through the research degree and will act according to the findings.

The DSDP will begin evaluating its current offering in 2016/17 to identify strengths and gaps in the programme working with our partners in all of the faculties, as well as in Public Engagement Unit, UCL Careers, UCL Enterprise, professional services divisions.

We will communicate with postgraduate researchers directly and with an enhanced website and use of social media, that will enable researchers to navigate the breadth and depth of the central Doctoral Skills training offering more easily.

The percentage of part-time students who responded positively seems low at 20%. The DSDP is currently in the process of reviewing its offer for part-time students. Additional Saturday sessions will be made available from 2016/17 academic year. This is in addition to the existing offer of DSDP evening courses and after-hours training available within UCL and via the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Research Network.

Additionally, in response to PRES new e-learning modules have been available since March 2016, which have increased the number of online training content available for distance-based learners and part-time students. We will keep this under review.

For 2016/17 we have altered our booking processes, making the programme available for booking on a term by term basis, in order to improve access to the programme, where previously places on courses tended be taken early in the term.

Update Jan 2017
Focus groups will take place on 20, 22 and 28 Feburary 2017. DSDP Manager also intends to submit a bid for a Changemakers Group, provisionally in June 2017, or in November 2017. If the bid is successful, this student-led group will examine the doctoral training overall at UCL, from central to local provision and make recommendations.

Small changes have already been implemented on the UCL Doc Skills website to enhance readability, frequently asked questions and access to courses. Other simplications are in development and new webpages are due in summer 2017, to coincide with a new simplified booking system, also due for completion in summer 2017. DSDP team has begun working with colleagues in Communications and Marketing to address how the UCL Doc Skills communicates with students. To this end focus groups will also be accompanied by a questionnaire, specially on the Weekly News bulletin. Student will also be consulted regarding which social media channels they prefer, and a greater presence on a social media channel will follow.

The Doc Skills team will engage with part-time researchers as part of the evaluation (focus groups, questionnaire, and if successful, the student-led Changemakers group). It has not been possible thus far, and as part of evaluation we will gauge interest in this idea.

We continue to pilot term by term booking in order to open the programme to a wider audience of postgraduate researchers and will reflect on this process at the end of the year.

Organisational Development
Dr Rochelle Rowe

PRES Question: My ability to communicate information effectively to diverse audiences has developed during my programme (in Personal development)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
77% of respondents agreed or mostly agreed with the statement, which is lower than the sector average at 79%.

The DSDP currently offers a broad range of courses and opportunities in the area of communicating your research, however, it may be that we need to enhance our communication of this offering and examine our provision in the area of communicating with non-specialist audiences in particular. As part of our ongoing evaluation of the DSDP we examine the extent of communication provision, and expand this area if appropriate in 16/17.

The DSDP supports the development of postgraduate researchers' communication skills through a range of opportunities provision of specific face-to-face training courses on presenting and publishing your research with our partners in UCL Culture (PEU) and UCL Enterprise, by commissioning external expert consultants (including the GRADSchool residential), and by collaborating with and commissioning the Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching to prepare postgraduates to teach. In particular we aim to work more closely with the Public Engagement Unit in 2016/17 to enhance opportunities for postgraduate researchers to communicate with non-specialist audiences.

Update Jan 2017
New courses on presenting and publishing your research are currently being piloted on UCL Doc Skills with a view to consolidating new provision in 2017-18. These include: Publishing your Research in the Sciences, a 3 Minute Thesis Presentation Workshop (to support candidates in the 3 Minute Thesis Competition), a new course on coding for websites, and an additional Public Speaking offer from UCL Culture (PEU). Additionally, postgraduate researchers will have access to a suite of courses on communication offered to research staff, through the new Research Staff Development Programme.

PEU and UCL Doc Skills are also collaborating on a planning day in summer 2017 to examine how to work more closely together in order that PEU can broaden their offer on the programme. PEU have also been invited to participate in focus groups with postgraduate researchers in February 2017.

Organisational Development
Dr Rochelle Rowe

Public Engagement

PRES Question: My ability to communicate information effectively to diverse audiences has developed during my programme (in Professional development)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
UCL scores 77% just below the national sector weighting of 79% but scores fluctuate across faculties. UCL's relatively high performance in this area reflects the importance that UCL as an institution places on impact and public engagement. The Public Engagement Unit has been in existence for 8 years as a core part of UCL's infrastructural support for all UCL staff and students, including postgraduate researchers. The team structure includes Public Engagement Coordinators (PECS) with a remit for supporting the public engagement within the Schools and Faculties for which they are responsible. The PECS deliver Train and Engage training within each School (with an associated funding scheme) and also offer a suite of core training through the Doctoral School Development Programme.

Training provision in public engagement skills will be reviewed in 2016/17, in collaboration with the Doctoral School team, to identify gaps and duplication in existing training provision and generate resources and programmes to meet identified need. The launch of the UCL Culture Manifesto represents the potential for UCL Culture to offer broader skills development opportunities to postgraduate researchers including leadership, project management and communication skills. These opportunities will also be explored with Doctoral School colleagues.

Update Jan 2017
There are two major developments since the last review; first, we have produced in consultation with UCL colleagues and students, a revised UCL Public Engagement Strategy (launch date 22 February 2017) which features a) a focus on collaborative public engagement b) increased focus on working with diverse communities, particularly voices which are heard less often c) a spirit of experiment, learning and sharing d) introduction of a new 5 phase Public Engagement Pathway (Find your voice; Learn to listen, Start a conversation, Develop a dialogue, Embed a change). Secondly, the PEU, Doctoral Skills Training Programme team and broader Organisational Development team (research development focused) have begun to work much more closely together to start to address the training offer balance more towards engagement and impact and less towards just traditional academic and analytical thinking. PEU team members will be in attendance (resources dependent) at the PhD focus groups led by the Doctoral Skills Development Programme Manager in February 2017 and/or will feed in questions in order to gather feedback on perceptions of/and gaps in training provision. PEU will be developing a new public speaking-related training offer for introduction in summer term 2017. Finally, all team members (DSTP, PEU and OD researcher development) plan to meet for a strategic planning workshop in July 2017.

Public Engagement Unit
Laura Cream

PRES Question: I have developed contacts or professional networks during my programme (in Professional Development)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
UCL scores 71% just above the national sector weighting of 70%. The Public Engagement Unit offers tailored advice and guidance for Doctoral School students on how to initiate conversations and build external partnerships with diverse communities beyond academia. The Creating Connections networking programme facilitates networking between UCL staff and graduate students and London's voluntary and community sectors. The Community of Engagers within the School of Life and Medical Sciences acts to share best practice and contacts amongst researchers.

We have also established the UCL Public Engagement Network and encourage postgraduate researchers to get involved as participants and presenters. We welcome suggestions for themes and topics of interest to postgraduate researchers.

Update Jan 2017
We continue to embed and expand the networking opportunities PhDs can profit from. In Autumn term we held a Public Engagement Network meeting designed to maximise participants' chances of securing Beacon Bursary funding. In March 2017 we are holding Public Engagement Network meeting with external speakers focusing on how to secure external funding (Wellcome/Royal Academy of Engineering/ESRC + UCL Research Coordinators from all 3 schools). We are holding a Creating Connections East event on 8 March. We have also contracted an artistic company called Zu-UK to explore the potential of engagement and the intersection of research/performance and communities over an 18 month period until February 2018 and anticipate increased opportunities for PhDs to get involved. We have also delivered two cycles of the core PEU PUblic Engagement training delivered via the DSTP (one set in Autumn term, one set in Spring term) and have pending Festivals training and Facilitation Skills training. We have also begun promotion of Train and Engage training open to SLASH/IoE and BEAMS PhDs to be held in Spring term + subsequent small grants funding round. A further Train and Engage training programme is scheduled for Summer term 2017.

Public Engagement Unit
Laura Cream

PRES Question: Communicating your research to a non-academic audience (in Development opportunities)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
UCL scores minimally below the national average (35% as compared to 36%). Nevertheless, the score itself is still disappointing and can and should be improved upon given the strength of the combined resources available to postgraduate researchers represented by UCL Culture (the Public Engagement Unit, Museums and Collections and the Bloomsbury Theatre and Studio). The launch of the UCL Culture Manifesto signals a concerted change in the way that UCL Culture will support Doctoral School students to engage with diverse communities.

In 16/17 we will produce a refreshed Public Engagement strategy and review the way in which our programmes, and the resources of UCL Culture more broadly, are promoted to and developed in consultation with postgraduate researchers in order to strengthen and diversify existing provision (training, funding, opportunities, advice and guidance, access to public programmes and exhibition space).

Update Jan 2017
We are pleased at the increased level of collaboration between DSTP, OD and PEU and see lots of potential for future training and opportunities to be developed, drawing on both PEU and wider UCL Culture resources and opportunities. However, these will be contingent on identification of resources and this issue will need to be resolved by the DSTP board.

Public Engagement Unit
Laura Cream

Regulations & Assessment

PRES Question: I understand the required standard for my thesis (in Progression)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
The PRES indicates a UCL average of 74% against a sector average of 78% for this question. Both at UCL and nationally, the clarity of the requirements for a thesis appear to be an area for improvement.   RDC has set up a Working Group to review the PGR Academic Regulations in conjunction with SRS Academic Services. The group has identified the clarity of thesis requirements as a key area to address in the review. The group will meet for an initial scoping meeting on 6 October 2016 and plans to deliver an interim report to RDC in March 2017 and a final report to RDC in June 2017. Student & Registry Services
Lizzie Vinton

PRES Question: The final assessment procedures for my degree are clear to me (in Progression)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
The PRES indicates a UCL average of 70% against a sector average of 74% for this question. Both at UCL and nationally, the clarity of the final assessment procedures appear to be an area for improvement.   The RDC Research Regulations Review Working Group has also identified the clarity of the final assessment procedures as a key area to address in the review. Student & Registry Services
Lizzie Vinton

PRES Question: Overall, I am satisfied with the experience of my research degree programme (in Overall Experience)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
Although the PRES does not currently cover student wellbeing and support, this is a key factor in ensuring a good overall student experience.

SRS currently provides a range of support services for students and has recently developed improved regulations to support students who require reasonable adjustments in the learning and assessment process, including a specific section for PGR students. The Doctoral Student Mental Health Working Group has also been working on ways to enhance students&\39; mental wellbeing and has made the following recommendation: “Ensure that the review of PGR student regulations in 2016/17 takes into full account PGR wellbeing issues.”

2016/17 will see a review of the PGR regulations by RDC/Academic Services. This is a unique opportunity to ensure that key policies, guidance and administrative processes take into account student wellbeing issues in their content, formulation and presentation.

The RDC Research Regulations Review Working Group will also consider ways to ensure that key policies, guidance and administrative processes take into account student wellbeing issues in their content, formulation and presentation. Student & Registry Services
Lizzie Vinton

Research Integrity & Ethics

PRES Question: My understanding of ‘research integrity’ (e.g. rigour, ethics, transparency, attributing the contribution of others) has developed during my programme (in Research skills)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
The results show a generally high level of awareness of research integrity across each discipline, providing a strong basis for future work. With the publication of the Concordat to support research integrity a Working Group was established to consider UCL's approach to compliance, focussing on both the short and long term. From January 2015 a dedicated post (Cultures of Integrity Co-ordinator) has been in place to develop and deliver a broad cultures of integrity initiative. A UCL Statement on Research Integrity was published setting out the standards expected of all those involved in research at UCL, as well as defining the UCL principles of integrity; honesty, rigour, transparency and open communication, care and respect.

A clear communications strategy for awareness raising is underway, including the creation of a dedicated research integrity website to bring together information from across UCL on all elements of research integrity, including ethical funding, research ethics and the relevant policies and guidelines, such as research data management, open access and conflicts of interests. Additional guidance has been written on areas such as overseas research and publication and authorship, and will continue to be written and published on other areas. Hard copy and digital literature on 'Understanding Research Integrity at UCL' is also available. All of this is equally directed at and available to Doctoral students across UCL.

Update Jan 2017
The website was published during 2015 and is continually updated. Additional guidance has been added on the Nagoya Protocol, and further guidance such as on sensitive research is planned. There is now an additional hardcopy 'business card' style quick reference guide available for staff and students to highlight what research integrity covers as well as what guidance can be found on the website. (www.ucl.ac.uk/research/integrity)

* * *

OVPR has and continues to work with Faculties to encourage a discipline led approach to awareness raising activities, such as seminars, and supports a similar approach to the embedding of research integrity into all levels of teaching, starting from undergraduate level to enable a progressive learning approach based on a strong foundation. Examples of good practice will be highlighted with the potential for them to be used in other areas.

Update Jan 2017
A survey of faculty based research integrity activities in 2015-16 was undertaken which highlighted a wide range of actions and areas of good practice. A detailed summary of these has been provided in the Research Integrity Annual Statement 2015-16 which will be made publicly available on the research integrity website (due March 2017). In addition, examples of good practice will be followed-up over time to feed into other activities, including the creation of a framework for research integrity training for UCL (see below).

The following is a summary of some of the awareness raising activities that took place during 2015-16: -- the UCL Statement on Research Integrity and the principles of integrity have been embedded within UCL in a variety of ways, including as part of local discussions around research integrity (including at research planning and strategy meetings), within PhD supervision, and referenced within department and student handbooks. It has also been used as a starting point for local postgraduate researcher inductions (including use of the research integrity website). -- There are a number of staff across UCL, for example designated Research Integrity Champions, Chairs of local Research Ethics Committees, Ethics Co-ordinators, Faculty Graduate Tutors, Vice-Deans (Research) who provide guidance and advice on research integrity matters. Examples range from answering queries, creating local intranet resources and other communications, to providing statements around the significant of research integrity. -- Awareness raising activities ranged from discussions and interactive ethics and integrity 'Dilemma Game' sessions at faculty research away days, to discussions at staff and student research committees, departmental monthly meetings, informal discussions, supervision, and consideration of ways to improve communication for students, to discussions of discipline-focused dilemmas, through to the revision of ethical codes and the creation of local intranet or Moodle pages.

* * *

OVPR is currently working with all areas of UCL, such as UCL Museums and Collections to bring together existing methods and resources and to generate new ways of awareness raising and teaching and to encourage engagement not only with the elements of research integrity, but with other disciplines and other areas of UCL. Again, good practice examples from this work will be highlighted for use in other areas.

Update Jan 2017
This work is continuing in a variety of ways and through different projects. A new course for PhD students entitled 'Introduction to Research Support & Integrity' was created for 2016-17 as part of the Doctoral Skill Development Programme. The workshop is open to postgraduate researchers across all disciplines and provides a broad view of research integrity and the culture of research integrity at UCL, as well as some of the elements of integrity including research data management, data protection, research ethics and open access.

The focus for the next academic year will be the creation of a framework for research integrity training that will provide a clear pathway for both staff and students in relation to training on research integrity generally, as well as the detailed elements of integrity. OVPR is part of the Integrity Training Working Group set up by the Research Degrees Committee and the framework will be part of the recommendations due to be presented in full this academic year.

Within the research ethics pilot that is currently underway, work is being done on embedding ethics and integrity training into taught courses and modules at a local level, as well as looking at protocols and guidance that can be used both across disciplines.

A research integrity video series has been filmed and is being edited. This series will act as one of the main awareness raising activities for staff and students. Five academic members of staff were involved, each representing different disciplines, including mathematics, law, geology, social science and physics.

OVPR Research Integrity Team
Mr Andrew Cooper

PRES RESULTS

UCL's headline results compared to the Sector are below, followed by a closer analysis of each question by Faculty. At the end you can also look at the responses analysed by some key demographic data (i.e. gender, mode of study etc.)

2015 Response rates

UCL36%
Sector40%
Russel Group41%
London36%

This compares to:

ISBN – UCL research student responses:

Autumn 201424%
Summer 201422%
Autumn 201328%
Summer 201324%

 

Previous Graduate School research student surveys:

201224%
201018%
200825%
Response by Faculty
PRES 2015 responses by Faculty

2015 Headline results

UCL's headline results, shown by broad topic.

Overall satisfaction with course chart
 UCL  Sector

Overall satisfaction with course

UCL to Sector chart
UCL to Sector Weighted to UCL benchmark
Comparing UCL to the Sector Weighted to UCL benchmark, the most positive statements were:% agreeDifference
1. I have access to the specialist resources necessary for my research (n = 2631)84%4.5%
2. There is adequate provision of library facilities (including physical and online resources) (n = 2683)88%1.6%
3. My department provides a good seminar programme (n = 2654)77%1.3%
   
Comparing UCL to the Sector Weighted to UCL benchmark, the most negative statements were:% agreeDifference
1. There is adequate provision of computing resources and facilities (n = 2644)74%-5.4%
2. I have a suitable working space (n = 2609)72%-5.2%
3. My institution values and responds to feedback from research degree students (n = 2596)57%-4.9%

Detailed results for each question, by Faculty

For each question students were asked to agree or disagree (on a scale of one to five) with statements, or indicate how often a learning style or behaviour is encouraged.

The colour code indicates the range of values, from the highest (dark green) to the lowest (dark grey) for each statement, highlighting the relative areas of good practice and areas for improvement. For example in 'Supervision', the first statement had a highest score of 94% and a lowest of 86%.

green highest value white midpoint grey lowest value

% agreeing: "Mostly agree" + "Definitely agree" unless otherwise stated

 SUPERVISION Sector UCL ART BRN BEN ENG IOE LAW LIF MAP MED PHS SHS
My supervisor/s have the skills and subject knowledge to support my research 92% 91% 91% 93% 90% 86% 92% 89% 91% 92% 94% 90% 94%
I have regular contact with my supervisor/s, appropriate for my needs 88% 86% 81% 88% 82% 86% 89% 83% 85% 84% 88% 90% 84%
My supervisor/s provide feedback that helps me direct my research activities 88% 86% 85% 89% 85% 84% 91% 83% 84% 84% 89% 87% 86%
My supervisor/s help me to identify my training and development needs as a researcher 74% 70% 71% 72% 61% 70% 76% 61% 63% 74% 67% 73% 68%
Overall I am satisfied with the supervision I have received * 82% 83% 83% 79% 82% 87% 89% 77% 84% 82% 85% 82%
 RESOURCES
I have a suitable working space 78% 72% 34% 81% 62% 73% 62% 44% 86% 72% 81% 84% 63%
There is adequate provision of computing resources and facilities 79% 74% 43% 81% 58% 75% 69% 53% 83% 78% 80% 86% 60%
There is adequate provision of library facilities (including physical and online resources) 86% 88% 74% 92% 92% 88% 87% 78% 91% 83% 92% 94% 81%
I have access to the specialist resources necessary for my research 80% 84% 82% 89% 81% 82% 80% 82% 91% 83% 88% 89% 80%
 RESEARCH CULTURE
My department provides a good seminar programme 75% 77% 69% 82% 76% 73% 71% 83% 79% 78% 77% 77% 79%
I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students 66% 64% 54% 68% 72% 64% 58% 89% 62% 67% 64% 64% 64%
The research ambience in my department or faculty stimulates my work 65% 65% 55% 75% 69% 62% 58% 72% 63% 66% 64% 67% 65%
I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department 61% 62% 65% 61% 63% 61% 55% 67% 58% 66% 54% 67% 65%
 PROGRESSION
I received an appropriate induction to my research degree programme 75% 71% 69% 75% 66% 65% 80% 83% 79% 66% 67% 69% 68%
I understand the requirements and deadlines for formal monitoring of my progress 85% 82% 81% 85% 82% 77% 87% 94% 83% 82% 83% 87% 80%
I understand the required standard for my thesis 78% 74% 80% 74% 76% 70% 80% 89% 69% 73% 73% 70% 79%
The final assessment procedures for my degree are clear to me 74% 70% 74% 71% 69% 66% 76% 83% 67% 69% 69% 68% 71%
 RESPONSIBILITIES
My institution values and responds to feedback from research degree students 62% 57% 51% 65% 67% 56% 61% 78% 54% 53% 59% 59% 46%
I understand my responsibilities as a research degree student 89% 86% 91% 86% 89% 82% 89% 100% 86% 85% 87% 87% 85%
I am aware of my supervisors' responsibilities towards me as a research degree student 86% 83% 87% 80% 86% 79% 88% 89% 81% 83% 81% 87% 84%
Other than my supervisor/s, I know who to approach if I am concerned about any aspect of my degree programme 78% 76% 71% 80% 78% 67% 70% 100% 78% 78% 72% 84% 81%
 RESEARCH SKILLS
My skills in applying appropriate research methodologies, tools and techniques have developed during my programme 90% 90% 90% 91% 88% 87% 89% 94% 91% 92% 91% 94% 88%
My skills in critically analysing and evaluating findings and results have developed during my programme 88% 88% 84% 90% 88% 86% 88% 94% 92% 89% 87% 90% 86%
My confidence to be creative or innovative has developed during my programme 79% 77% 74% 76% 77% 75% 76% 89% 75% 82% 79% 76% 76%
My understanding of 'research integrity' (e.g. rigour, ethics, transparency, attributing the contribution of others) has developed during my programme 85% 83% 70% 88% 86% 81% 89% 94% 85% 79% 87% 88% 80%
 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
My ability to manage projects has developed during my programme 81% 79% 70% 83% 70% 77% 71% 67% 88% 83% 88% 85% 69%
My ability to communicate information effectively to diverse audiences has developed during my programme 79% 77% 77% 80% 79% 76% 67% 78% 81% 84% 78% 78% 71%
I have developed contacts or professional networks during my programme 70% 71% 72% 74% 75% 68% 67% 72% 67% 69% 70% 75% 74%
I have increasingly managed my own professional development during my programme 82% 79% 76% 81% 80% 78% 78% 89% 76% 77% 80% 87% 79%
 SKILLS TRAINING & ADVICE
Agreeing a personal training or development plan 45% 33% 27% 37% 30% 37% 41% 17% 27% 29% 42% 45% 30%
Receiving training to develop my research skills 78% 78% 73% 83% 86% 76% 90% 72% 77% 75% 80% 90% 80%
Receiving training to develop my transferable skills 50% 47% 41% 48% 51% 51% 31% 50% 52% 55% 50% 63% 34%
Receiving advice on career options 30% 32% 28% 42% 33% 31% 13% 39% 41% 34% 30% 43% 25%
 DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Taking part in a placement or internship 11% 12% 5% 21% 10% 16% 10% 0% 15% 12% 4% 10% 8%
Attending an academic research conference 72% 74% 85% 78% 72% 70% 66% 78% 78% 80% 75% 76% 83%
Presenting a paper or poster at an academic research conference 59% 59% 66% 63% 56% 62% 50% 72% 62% 61% 60% 63% 66%
Submitting a paper for publication in an academic journal or book 37% 40% 42% 40% 47% 40% 29% 67% 39% 43% 40% 50% 41%
Communicating your research to a non-academic audience 36% 35% 35% 39% 46% 39% 32% 22% 32% 31% 28% 34% 41%
 TEACHING
Taught (or demonstrated) during research degree programme (Key: % agree for "Yes") 50% 45% 47% 38% 35% 55% 22% 50% 49% 49% 38% 41% 52%
Given appropriate support and guidance for your teaching 57% 54% 63% 53% 57% 51% 60% 33% 57% 60% 58% 31% 55%
Received formal training for your teaching (Key: % agree for "Yes") 57% 48% 63% 33% 53% 44% 28% 44% 55% 52% 29% 29% 63%
 OVERALL EXPERIENCE
Overall, I am satisfied with the experience of my research degree programme 82% 81% 83% 87% 82% 77% 81% 83% 81% 83% 79% 81% 81%
I am confident that I will complete my research degree programme within my institution's expected timescale 81% 81% 83% 82% 75% 75% 87% 94% 81% 80% 84% 82% 83%
 MAIN MOTIVATION
Main motivation for pursuing a research degree programme (Key: % agree for: My interest in the subject) 38% 38% 48% 39% 34% 33% 36% 50% 39% 48% 33% 25% 47%
 ENGLISH LANGUAGE SUPPORT
English fluency (Key: % agree for "Yes") 89% 91% 91% 94% 82% 84% 88% 89% 90% 91% 87% 95% 93%
Received appropriate support for English language needs. (Key: % agree for Definitely agree + Mostly agree + Neither agree nor disagree) 86% 82% 84% 84% 76% 82% 83% 100% 84% 81% 91% 84% 72%
 CODE OF PRACTICE
I am aware of the UCL Doctoral School Code of Practice for Research Degrees * 60% 60% 59% 62% 51% 63% 83% 60% 62% 62% 71% 64%
 INTERNSHIP / PLACEMENT
I am interested in undertaking an internship or placement. (Key: % agree for "Yes") * 66% 59% 62% 69% 75% 54% 53% 76% 71% 58% 61% 59%
(Key for statements below: % of "Very interested" + "Somewhat interested")
Research internship/placement related to my doctoral research project * 96% 100% 96% 98% 96% 96% 90% 96% 97% 93% 97% 98%
Research internship/placement unrelated to my doctoral research project * 72% 76% 73% 71% 75% 70% 50% 69% 76% 66% 67% 70%
A non-research internship/placement * 68% 71% 70% 72% 71% 62% 56% 71% 64% 67% 64% 66%
One to two weeks in duration * 77% 82% 81% 74% 74% 84% 63% 72% 81% 81% 76% 74%
Up to 3 months in duration * 90% 89% 87% 92% 93% 81% 100% 89% 92% 94% 89% 95%
Up to 6 months in duration * 68% 70% 66% 79% 73% 60% 78% 63% 70% 61% 58% 70%
During the first year of my research programme * 56% 53% 56% 51% 59% 55% 88% 51% 59% 52% 57% 53%
During the second year of my research programme * 82% 80% 82% 74% 85% 73% 100% 82% 85% 84% 86% 79%
During the last year of my research programme * 70% 74% 66% 70% 72% 74% 78% 63% 70% 60% 72% 73%
During CRS (Writing up stage) * 55% 59% 58% 61% 57% 69% 44% 40% 45% 58% 57% 58%
After Completion * 83% 91% 81% 87% 81% 87% 78% 83% 84% 83% 74% 88%

*  UCL only question

UCL Results analysed by key student demographics

Include: Qualification, Age, Gender, Disability, Study mode, Year, Fee status  downloadDownload MS Excel file