UCL PRES 2017 – Results & Actions

PRES (Postgraduate Research Experience Survey) PRES 2017 was open at UCL from mid February until mid May 2017.

UCL's PRES 2017 results can be viewed → further down this page. The 2017 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 Faculty

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
"Seminars at which different PhD students/researchers from different faculties can present their work and share their experiences are needed," / "I am inter-disciplinary and find it difficult to slot in anywhere" / University of London, Senate House, the SAS and IHR provide extraordinary number of seminars that greatly enhance my work and opportunities to network." / "My department does not have a seminar programme that is attended by faculty members and graduate students." For a number of departments, seminars are organised through Institutes of the University of London School of Advanced Study, rather than at departmental level. This leads to a much richer programme, but when answering this question, students may not consider such seminars as part of departmental provision, even though they are convened by departmental staff. At Faculty level, we promote opportunities for interdisciplinary seminars through the Octagon Friday Forum and grants scheme.
We are organising a joint Faculty heat of the Three Minute Thesis Competition, to be held in the IAS Common Ground in order to provide a new forum for research students to present their work and promote the Institute of Advanced Studies more generally. We are also planning a roll-out of the Anthropology Changemakers scheme on pre-fieldwork workshops and writing retreats across the Faculty.
Dr Helen Matthews
Dr Paulo Drinot

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

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
"I don't think UCL has been involved or responsible for my development in these categories."

Discussion at the Joint Faculty Research Degrees Committee noted varying practices between departments for annual progress reviews and discussion of training and development needs.

We are reviewing departmental arrangements for annual progress reviews with a view to sharing best practice across the Faculty.

Dr Helen Matthews
Dr Paulo Drinot

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

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
More could be done to provide humanities-specific research skills development opportunities."  

We are reviewing training provision with a view to identifying any gaps that could be filled at departmental, joint-departmental or faculty level. We are also looking into demand for sessions aimed specifically at the needs of part-time research students in view of our student profile.

Dr Helen Matthews
Dr Paulo Drinot

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

"As space is limited at UCL, I mainly worked in Senate House Library, the British Library and local public libraries." / "It would be good if there was some (sufficient) departmental space in which postgraduates could work." Space remains an issue. We promote the availability of additional working spaces (e.g. in the IAS Common Ground) but students would prefer dedicated departmental space. We will work with Estates to identify opportunities to provide space where possible. Prof Stella Bruzzi
Ms Katie Canada-Chwieroth

Brain Sciences Faculty

PRES Question: I have been given appropriate support and guidance for my teaching (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
57% agreement This is an issue that is challenging to address, as the only UG teaching degree to which PG students could contribute are in one Division in the Faculty (PALS). Note that PG students within PALS are satisfied with their teaching opportunities scoring in the second quartile, and that students in the other areas of the faculty are dissatisfied, with scores in the lowest quartile. The faculty has provided more opportunities to teach for PGR students by running a Widening Participation Summer School in Psychology and Language Sciences which is largely taught by PGR students – however this is limited to those who are carrying our research in areas related to these degree programmes so has not addressed the wider issue. Faculty ash also notified PGR students via email of additional opportunities to teach offered through Widening Participation. To provide further opportunities for all PGR students, Dr Julie Evans, the Faculty Tutor, has developed a pan-faculty module for the International Summer School that runs for three weeks in July entitled "How the brain works and what can go wrong" - this module has allowed opportunities for PGR students from all area of the faculty to deliver lectures and workshops and PGR students are still being recruited to teach on the module. All students teaching on this module will be encouraged to use this as the basis for an application for an associate Arena fellowship, which will help them in terms of their employability. Dr Patti Adank
Ms Nafisa Wagley

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
60% agreement We are slightly puzzled by this as many seminars are available to students and they are made aware of these via email distribution lists. The challenge remains that we are very geographically distributed and it may be inconvenient for, e.g., students in Ophthalmology to come to central UCL for a one-hour seminar, and vice versa. In recent years, we have partly attempted to address this issue by organising the Postgraduate Research Poster Symposium, which includes short oral presentations (which act as the 3MT faculty heats) and poster presentations and aims to offer PG students throughout BRN the opportunity to present their research and meet with other students and staff. There are also prizes for both the short presentations and posters judged by senior academics within BRN. Responding to informal student feedback we are exploring the possibility, through a survey to PGR students to expand the current successful format of the symposium to a full conference format, with parallel oral sessions plus a poster session. Additionally, the neuroscience network and symposium is introduced to students as part of the faculty PGR event – though we accept that not every student will attend induction, so we need to reinforce this though local institute/divisional inductions. This will be a point of action for the next year. Dr Patti Adank
Ms Nafisa Wagley

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) Actions (we did) Contacts
64% agreement We are planning to consult with DGTs across the faculty to ensure that this concern and other areas of concern are addressed at induction for all new PGR students in a more comprehensive Dr Patti Adank
Ms Nafisa Wagley

Built Environment Faculty

PRES Questions in Resources

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Research students have identified need for more, or better access to workspace. We are conducting a space survey of all parts of the faculty looking at both deskspace provision and also communcal/social space. We are also looking into the possibilites for better management fo space over time to ensure awarness of availability of deskspace. We also need to look into issue of governance, of how access to space is distributed. Prof Stephen Marshall

PRES Questions in Research culture

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
In the PRES survey, some of the satisfaction ratings for Research Culture were less than we had hoped. We seek to establish which areas are priorities for improvement as perceived by doctoral students. We seek to identify out and overcome any barriers to participation in the research culture and activities that already exist, while providing for any identified gaps in existing provision. Prof Stephen Marshall

PRES Questions in Research culture

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
We believe that not all doctoral students are aware of, or taking advantage of, all the training, induction, networking, social and other activities and oportunities available to them We shall be looking into better ways of communicating with doctoral students - including considering use of events calendars, the website, blog, social media, mailing lists, and meetings/fora (via student representatives). We also aim to prepare an annual research digest document to help communicate news and research dissemination outwards. Prof Stephen Marshall

Engineering Sciences Faculty

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) Actions (we did) Contacts
The awareness was recorded in 2017 as 60%. 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 relatively poor awareness of who students should approach if they encounter problems, the responsibilities of supervisors and certain key policies and timetables. Improved awareness of the Code should also help to address these related metrics. We have made strides in the area over the past two years, with awareness rising from a baseline of 50% in 2015. We will continue to promote awareness of the Code of Practice Awareness 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 will be prominently displayed on the website or Moodle page used as the primary departmental source of information for research degree students. In addition, the Faculty will introduce communications to students two or three times a year with key information, including references to the Code of Practice. The Code will be highlighted at the Cumberland Lodge retreats (run five times per year), the annual State of the Faculty event and the Faculty will continue to encourage departments to run refresher induction session for continuing students as standard practice. Dr Simon Banks

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

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Students clearly feel that they are not being supported sufficiently in this area, with only 35% of respondents indicating that they have agreed such a plan. This is reflected in relatively poor feedback regarding training for research and transferable skills. The metric for supervisors identifying training and development needs as a researcher is much higher (at 69%), however still below the UCL average. The Faculty views training and development as essential components of doctoral education, as articulated in the Faculty Doctoral Education Strategy. All departments will be asked to ensure that supervisors draw up a training and development plan when students start their programme. The plan should be stored on the Research Log and updated annually. Departments will be asked to report compliance to FRDC and to seek feedback from students about the usefulness/effectiveness of these plans. Dr Simon Banks

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

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Only 60% of students in the Faculty responded positively to the question “My institution values and responds to feedback from research degree students”. There are many factors here. Firstly, the question relates to the “institution” and Engineering is broadly in line with other parts of UCL in the level of satisfaction. Furthermore, students frequently raise concerns about matters such as the estate, which are out of the direct control of the Faculty. They may feel that the lack of action in response to their concerns is in some way not valuing their input – which is not the case. No matter the causes or difficulties addressing them, the Faculty view is that research students are an essential, integral and valued part of UCL Engineering. Their views and feedback are essential in helping us to shape our future provision of doctoral education. We have introduced a “State of the Faculty” event to which all research degree student are invited. Students are provided with access to all the information and data used to inform the development of the Faculty Doctoral Strategy and related policies. They have the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns and otherwise feed into the Faculty planning process. This event is also an opportunity to meet the Vice Dean (Research) and Faculty Graduate Tutor. In addition, we will work with the Student Union at UCL to improve the representation of research degree students on departmental committees and at Faculty level. For postgraduate taught (PGT) students, the Faculty facilitates meetings between lead departmental Student Representatives, chaired by the PGT Faculty Student Representative. We intend to replicate this model for research degree students, providing a more structured means of escalating concerns and feedback. Dr Simon Banks

PRES Question: My department provides a good seminar programme (in Research culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
The access to a suitable range of departmental seminars is crucial for research degree students. They expose researchers to new topics, encourage collaboration and help students to set their own work in a wider context. In addition they help students to build networks, by engaging with guest speakers from outside UCL. Engineering departments typically run numerous seminars throughout the year. It is clear from the PRES that these are either not advertised clearly enough, or are not proving engaging enough for research degree students. All departments will review their approach to seminars, including topics, timings and advertising. Departments will be asked to report to FRDC, with a focus on increasing research student participation in seminars and associated activities. ??? Dr Simon Banks

Institute of Education Faculty

Currently being prepared

Laws Faculty

PRES Questions in Resources:
I have a suitable working space
There is adequate provision of computing resources and facilities

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

Overall experience 66% compared to UCL average 81%.

We scored above the UCL average in four more categories:

  • Progression (Laws 82%/UCL 75%)
  • Responsibilities (80%/77%)
  • Research Skills (85%/84%)
  • Professional Development (83%/77%)

We scored below the UCL average in four areas:

  • Resources (Laws 67%/UCL 78%)
  • Teaching (53%/58%)
  • Supervision (74%/82%)
  • Research culture (65%/66%)

The three lowest scoring statements % agreement
1. There is adequate provision of computing resources and facilities (n=31) 45%
2. I have a suitable working space (n=30) 47%
3. I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department (n=30) 50%

After 2,5 years in temporary accommodation, we returned to the Bentham House one month ago. Computers are provided in the Postgraduate Research Suite in Bentham House, as well as a photocopier/printer. The building also features a quiet working room and computer suite.

PhD students have a dedicated workspace in Bentham House as well as access to both student and staff areas, including staff and student common areas. PGR students having their own space reduces competition for space among other students and staff, but giving them access to student and staff areas allows them to remain a part of the Laws community.

The space needs of the PhD students were incorporated when designing their new space. PGR reps had significant input into the way the room is designed. The PhD room in Bentham is 70msq with 24 desks and 8 computers, located on the ground floor of the building. There is locker space and shelving.

Prof Virginia Mantouvalou

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

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

The Faculty of Laws is a one department Faculty. To increase the opportunities for our PhD students to become involved in the wider research community in the Faculty of Laws, they have been invited to present at, and attend weekly staff seminars. Academics have also been invited to attend their work in progress forums, which gives them the opportunity to receive feedback and engage in discussion about their work with someone other than their supervisor. The move back into the Bentham House will facilitate all interaction between staff and students, both academic and social.

We are also establishing a Faculty Research Degrees committee. This committee should meet at least twice a year, at the end of the First Term (to reflect upon the feedback from individual meetings with students in the Third Term and report submitted to the Doctoral School in the First Term) and at the end of the Second Term (to reflect upon the results of admissions and scholarships). This will enable improvements to the PhD programme to be made much more smoothly.

Prof Virginia Mantouvalou

PRES Questions in Supervision

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

Last summer we introduced annual meetings with the DRS and Deputy DRS, which we hope will identify problems with PhD supervision. The DRS and Deputy DRS are aiming to understand if there are any particular patterns in students’ concerns, in order to address them. We are also planning a PhD supervisors’ training session for early next academic year, which will be led by the DRS and one more colleague with extensive experience in supervision. This session will discuss best practices and challenges.

Prof Virginia Mantouvalou

Life Sciences Faculty

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

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
69% agreement, ( 63% in 2015). Overall improvement but still needs action to be continued Actions put in place after 2015 PRES are working but need to be further scrutinised. There might have been a lack of communication between DGT , supervisors and students on this topic Continue actions put in place in 2015, as some of the students in the 3rd and 4th year have probably not benefitted from these actions and clear improvement should be seen at the next PRES survey. Introduce a proforma 'My Research Training and Development Needs' to be given to students when they start their PhD which can be used to initiate discussion with their supervisors about their training needs throughout their PhD. To make it a condition of the first Thesis Committee meeting, where the project proposal is discussed, that students present and discuss their training plans. Prof Kaila Srai

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

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
30% agreement, approved from 27%. This is low Faculty wise but in some departments very low (5%) This innovation has only recently been introduced in the Faculty of Life Sciences and clearly our students are not recognising this as part of their training programme. Introduce a pro-forma, 'My Personal training Plan', to be given to students when they start their PhD which can be used to initiate discussion with their supervisors about their training needs throughout their PhD. To make it a condition of the second Thesis Committee meeting, that students present and discuss their personal training plans. Prof Kaila Srai

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
62% agreement. Improved from 58%in the previous survey. Overall our research culture score is the highest in UCL. This innovation has only recently been introduced in the Faculty of Life Sciences and clearly our students are not recognising this as part of their training programme. Introduce a pro-forma, 'My Personal training Plan', to be given to students when they start their PhD which can be used to initiate discussion with their supervisors about their training needs throughout their PhD. To make it a condition of the second Thesis Committee meeting, that students present and discuss their personal training plans. Prof Kaila Srai

PRES Question: II have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students (in Research culture)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
71% agreement across the Faculty but variability across divisions and departments Labs and departments are spread all over the campus. In some departments there is a broad range of research students working on different topics. Introduce Faculty wide, a new "Second year 10min talk" series between March and May, organised by students with help from the Faculty. If this is successful we will hold a joint '10 min talk' series jointly with other faculties in SLMS. In addition we will conduct a survey to hold a Poster day for all students. Prof Kaila Srai

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
We mention how PhDs are examined briefly during our PhD student induction, and have a 2 hour training session in the middle of the fourth year, to advise students on the PhD examination process, and provide advice and training on writing their PhD thesis. We will consider introducing a session on the PhD examination process earlier on in the PhD programme. We note that many of the students who completed the survey would have been first, second or third year students, so would not have attended training on PhD examination and thesis writing. This will be discussed with the students to see if they agree that a session on the PhD examination process and what is expected in the PhD thesis should be done earlier in PhD programme. Ideally we would like to introduce the session in the 2nd year and then repeat it in the fourth year. This will be compulsory for the 2nd and 4th year students but other years are welcome to attend. Attendance will be recorded. Prof Kaila Srai

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
60% agreement increase from 54% in 2015 We take feedback from our research degree students very seriously - our PhD student committee meets a couple of weeks before each of our Research Degree Committee meetings, then PhD student committee reps attend the Research Degrees Committee, providing feedback and information on any issues that concern the student community. We do have problems with students volunteering to be student representatives. I have introduced an open surgery for Faculty PGR every Friday. I did not get any students to come and see me even after repeated messaging in 2017. Since the beginning of 2018 I have had two students to come and see me about their problems. May be more will follow now. This will be kept under review. To introduce a feedback form for students to complete before their MPhil/PhD update. This will be discussed at the update meeting together with feedback from the supervisor. Prof Kaila Srai

Mathematical & Physical Sciences Faculty

PRES Questions in Code of practice

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Sharing best practice MAPS is extremely diverse with some MAPS departments achieving among the highest (top 10-15) levels of overall satisfaction in the PRES, relative to other departments in UCL, while others are among the lowest ranked in UCL. DGTs will seek to understand these differences and in particular which practices have the greatest impact on levels of PGR student satisfaction. Prof Tania Monteiro

PRES Questions in Resources

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Space Several MAPS departments report space and infrastructure issues as a concern. These issues will be monitored and the impact of ongoing developments (eg Earth science refurbishment, the proposed Maths institute) on PRES will be investigated. Prof Tania Monteiro

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

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Research ambience MAPS departments will seek to address the surprisingly low satisfaction levels with this (~65%) and seek mainly department-specific initiatives to improve this (additional seminar series, cohort building activities). Prof Tania Monteiro

Medical Sciences Faculty

Currently being prepared

Population Health Sciences Faculty

PRES Questions in Teaching:
Taught (or demonstrated) during research degree programme
Given appropriate support and guidance for your teaching
Received formal training for your teaching

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Improving access to teaching opportunities for research students Without an large undergraduate programme, the Faculty lacks teaching opportunities for its research students. It has this in common with some of the other Faculties in SLMS, and we are working together to improve the situation. This includes encouraging students to make a contribution to guaranteeing the whole student experience (not just the lecture part), through writing course materials, organizing classes, and acting as mentors to students; to opening more opportunities for direct teaching including in the medical undergraduate curriculum, and in “pre-UCL” courses for potential students like taster classes for Year 12 and 13 students. We will also engage PGR students in Q&A workshops with our MSc/MRes students. There is support for this approach of enhancing transfer of knowledge between these student cohorts. We envisage each MSc programme organising groups of appropriate PhD students to network with on a termly basis. We are also considering short-term "shadowing" by MSc students in labs and at workstations (for non-lab based students); these would be just brief exposures of a few hours at a time to give them a short flavour of what life is like as a PhD student (or even a postdoc). This is all in the spirit of the Connected Curriculum.
Dr Andrew Stoker

PRES Question: I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students (in Research culture)

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

Creating a sense of “belonging” and cohort identity among our students across all the Faculty's institutes.

This is being pursued through a range of initiatives such as a Faculty symposium, three minute thesis competition, Faculty welcome and handbook, as well as through communications from the faculty level directly with our PGR students. Dr Andrew Stoker

PRES Questions in Skills Training and advice:
Receiving training to develop my research skills
Receiving training to develop my transferable skills
Receiving advice on career options

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

Improving access to different types of skills training including (a) statistics; (b) leadership and (c) careers and employability

We are embarking on a review of our statistics teaching, in which the involvement of PGR students in teaching and being taught statistics will be a component. In terms of careers we Have an excellent relationship with UCL careers services, and are putting forward a branded stream of careers events, supplied by institutes, Faculty and the central careers service.. Each Institute has a careers champion who is available to all students in their Institute for advisor about careers and employability skills. Dr Andrew Stoker

Social & Historical Sciences Faculty

Currently being prepared

Teaching

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

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
variable rates – continue to raise issue at RDC really complex picture with some understandable variation but UCL can reaffirm its commitment to providing opportunities wherever possible Arena Centre staff have been running workshops for 'postgraduates who supervise' whether formally or informally, to support PGRs in assisting UG and PGT students in their project work

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

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
lines of accountability in departments to ensure that all PGTAs get appropriate guidance and support in department. We can work with Departments on support and guidance. 139 participants completed the Teaching associate programme in 16/17 with an average satisfaction of 4.2/5, 212 are attending in 17/18 with an average feedback score of 4.3/5. Attendance is good and feedback is positive and we have had 56 complete Associate Fellowship of the HEA applications through this route in 16/17  

PRES Question: Received formal training for your teaching (in Teaching)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
5% points behind sector average we have put on additional Gateway sessions in response to demand throughout the year, to a total of 16 sessions with a max capacity of x each. When the AC is contacted with queries about lack of capacity we are always able to offer places within a matter of weeks. Gateway participants in 16-17 646 with 14 sessions (feedback score 4.4/5) Gateways participants so far in 17/18, including those booked for February and march, 760 (average feedback so far 4.2/5)

Careers

PRES Question: Receiving training to develop my transfarable skills (in Skills training & advice)

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

[1] Looking at the Faculty data, Laws has the lowest percentage ( 26%), followed by IOE (31%) of those accessing transferable skills training, whilst the highest rate is Population Health Sciences at 54%

[2] Examination of the 'Professional Development' free text shows that requests for professional networking opportunities were specified by 13 respondents, including non academic and industry contacts.

[1] Low uptake by students at IOE and Laws might be linked to higher numbers of mature students with significant previous experience who may feel they do not need training in transferable skills. Evidence of this is found in the 'Professional Development' free text comments where 8 of 38 comments stated they didn't need professional development support due to experience or age, with one comment suggesting that events and activities are targeted at younger researchers.

[1] This academic year we are introducing two new workshops which we feel will appeal to research students of various age ranges and background experience which go beyond the classic 'transferable skills training' agenda: 'How do I know what I'll like? Identifying your strengths, interests and values' and 'Coping with the transition out of academia'. We will also aim to deliver a new panel event looking at how to be successful academically which should appeal to mature students moving into academia as part of a career change / transition.

[2] We are providing opportunities for professional networking across a wide range of job sectors via our Employer Engagement programme for researchers.

UCL Careers & DSDP
Dr Sophia Donaldson
Dr Jana Dankovicova
Dr Calum Leckie

PRES Question: Receiving advice on career options (in Skills training & advice) and free text comments

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
[1] Looking at the results by key demographics, the percentage receiving advice who are 'planning or doing research' is 28% but rises to 40% of those 'writing up' and 47% 'waiting to graduate'. For those in particular wishing to move beyond academia this might suggest leaving career planning very late.

[ 2] Across faculties, only 17% of researchers at IOE have received advice on career options, whilst the highest levels are Life Sciences and Population Health Sciences at 43% each

[3] Examination of the 'Professional Development' free text allows us to identify 3 comments that can be reasonably associated with UCL Careers: one related to our Internship programme for BBSRC students, one linked to a careers event that led to a job, and a third relating to a one to one appointment. All three comments were positive. No negative comments attributable to our service were identified.

[4] The average percentage of researchers who say they have received careers advice is only 32%, which is slightly higher than the sector average; and the average percentage who report receiving transferable skills training is 46%, slightly below the sector average.

This question does not define where the advice is being accessed and is likely to include advice from the supervisor, other academics, colleagues, alumni as well as UCL Careers (or indeed, instead of UCL Careers).

[1] Although we encourage career-thinking as early as possible, and UCL Careers is present at inductions, it is not surprising that many research students only start to engage with their next steps towards the end of their studentship.

[2] One explanation for the variability in respondents saying they are receiving careers advice across faculties may be due to the activity of various Early Career Researcher Networks. These are useful communication channels to raise awareness of our services.

[4] It should be noted that UCL careers is only one of a number of sources of careers information and transferable skills training – individuals are likely to approach supervisors, other academics, colleagues and friends as well. With 1.2 FTE specialist Careers Consultants for 5000 + research students only a minority of researchers will be able to access our one to one advice and workshops.

[1] In the summer of 2018 UCL Careers will be surveying all research students via our 'Careers Registration Project' through our online bookings and events system (MyUCLCareers) This will ascertain the level of 'career readiness' of research students by year group (as well as their sectors of interest). It would then be possible to target students in the penultimate year of their studentship, who were unsure of their post graduation future, with specific information and opportunities to visit UCL Careers.

[2]We are continuing to liaise with a number of Early Career Researcher Networks and provide service overview talks and taster sessions dependent on adviser availability

[4] Due to the small numbers of available Careers Consultants we provide many opportunities for research students to obtain careers information and advice from other relevant sources such as PhD alumni, other PhD holders and employers through our employer skills training programme, sector specific events, and online resources.

UCL Careers, Supervisors, academic staff, departments
Dr Sophia Donaldson
Dr Jana Dankovicova
Dr Calum Leckie

PRES Question: Taking part in a placement or internship (in Development opportunities)

Although marginally higher than the sector average, the number of UCL research students accessing internship opportunities is very low, at 13%. Some of those who are accessing internship opportunities are likely to be those students who are on programmes where this is actively encouraged, e.g. the BBSRC PIPs. The ability of research students to access internships is strongly affected by project progress and the attitudes of supervisors.

Through funding from the DSDP we now have a full time member of staff who is actively sourcing researcher - relevant internship opportunities, and we aim to obtain a spread of opportunities across sectors to appeal to researchers from all disciplines.

UCL Careers
Dr Sophia Donaldson
Dr Jana Dankovicova
Dr Calum Leckie

IT Support

Currently being prepared

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
35% of respondents agreed with this statement, which represents a small increase of 2% on the previous survey, but is still too low, especially when compared to the sector average of 44%. This small increase may reflect the steady impact of significant work the UCL Doc Skills team has done raise awareness amongst postgraduate researchers of the need to self-assess their training and development needs. It may also reflect our contribution to the ongoing development of training for research supervisors: helping supervisors to feel more confident to initiate conversations with postgraduate research students about their training needs. However, there is still work to do.

We propose to make the Personal Training and Development Plan on the Research Log compulsory in line with other aspects of this project management tool, compliance will be measured through reports from the Research Log. To complement this we propose to work with ISD and the Doctoral School to enhance the capabilities of the Personal Training and Development Plan such that it automatically guides the researcher to suitable training offered within UCL, that matches their identified training needs.

We are committed to promoting personal training and development planning for postgraduate researchers at every opportunity: at induction, through evaluation and in face-to-face interaction with researchers, through programmes such as GRADschool and Leadership in Action, amongst others. For the start of the academic session 2017-18 we overhauled evaluation forms such that after each course attended researchers are now invited to consider what additional training or development they may need.

We are taking over responsibility for organising supervisory training, in partnership with the Doctoral School and UCL Arena. This training makes supervisors aware of the support available for postgraduate researchers, and promotes training conversations between supervisors and supervisees.

UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme – Organisational Development
docskills@ucl.ac.uk

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

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
46% of respondents agreed with this statement, which represents a slight decrease of 1% on the previous survey, and is 2% below the sector average at 48%. UCL Doc Skills offers a large and comprehensive programme and within the past two years, since the previous survey, a number of new provisions, including new courses offering an extensive range of transferable skills have been introduced to strengthen and expand the programme further, in line with researcher's needs. Feedback suggests that programme is generally highly valued by researchers and waiting lists confirm that demand outstrips supply. This slight dip in the number of respondents who report receiving training in transferable skills, in spite of the range and scope of the programme, suggests that we need to grow further in order to meet the needs of UCL's postgraduate researcher population.

UCL Doc Skills will maintain excellence and expand provision in line with researcher's needs. We have identified the need to expand provision on UCL Doc Skills substantially, and we will be pursuing this opportunity as part of our strategic planning for 2018-19 and beyond. We will continue to promote the offer as widely as possible such that students are aware of the opportunities available to them. We will also pursue avenues for a new booking system and website that will raise the visibility of the UCL Doc Skills offer.

New measures already introduced to reach more of the research students include the expansion of places on face-to-face courses, including courses on Research Integrity, Open Science, Communication, Public Engagement, Leadership, Research Methodologies, Digital Skills and Wellbeing; new opportunities for researchers to devise, develop and deliver their own training activity through the Researcher-led Initiatives, which are running for the first time in 2017-18.

New provision has also been added for part-time researchers, including Saturday training events, and a collaborative event with Kings College London and Imperial College, called The Balancing Act. We will also continue to expand e-learning offered on the programme, commissioning new materials as appropriate in 2017-18. We are also undertaking to ensure that the vast majority of training takes place within core hours 10:00 to 16:00, in accordance with Athena Swan recommendations.

UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme – Organisational Development
docskills@ucl.ac.uk

PRES Question: To what extent do you agree or disagree that you have received appropriate support for your language needs (in English language support)

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
33% of respondents agreed with this statement, which is below the sector average of 41%. UCL Doc Skills together with the Centre for Languages and International Education (CLIE) has a key role to play in promoting opportunities for development of researcher's English language needs.

UCL Doc Skills offers a range of support for the development of strong academic English language skills. We continue to expand our offering of thesis writing training on the programme and opportunities for supportive peer-to-peer writing support, including 'writer's retreats' (on campus) which we intend to expand in 2017-18.

Alongside this we work closely with CLIE to promote opportunities for non-native speakers of English in particular to receive specialist training in English language skills. We have streamlined the applications process for funded places on CLIE courses, instigating 3 calls for application per academic session to maximise opportunities to apply for language support and provided additional thesis writing training in response to demand. We will continue to promote these opportunities widely, such that as many students as possible are aware of the support available.

UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme – Organisational Development
docskills@ucl.ac.uk

Public Engagement

PRES Question: free text comments (in Professional development)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
Students identify very varied provision and levels of support for professional development across individual departments.

We have consolidated our core PhD Public Engagement Training offer in light of these comments so that students from different departments come together during the training to learn from their peers across the institution and build networks which they would not otherwise have access to. The fact that the provision and promotion is centralised has enabled us to recruit new students and expand our reach across the institution.

Ms Laura Cream
Head of Public Engagement Unit

PRES Question: free text comments (in Skills training & advice)

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
A high percentage of comments indicate the desire for project management training opportunities to be more plentiful.

Project management is a core aspect of the Train and Engage package. However, our current promotion of the training may not make this sufficiently apparent and we will endeavour to highlight this in future years to increase uptake.

Ms Laura Cream
Head of Public Engagement Unit

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

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
The issue of transferable skills - applicable to both academic and other professional careers is highlighted by a number of students. they also highlight a feeling of isolation within their departments and a lack of close networks. In 2017/18 we are piloting the Evaluation Exchange a new initiative that connects UCL postgraduate researchers with Voluntary Sector Organisations, and trains them together to tackle an evaluation challenge (such as designing an evaluation plan, developing surveys, analysing existing data). The pilot has proved very successful and we would welcome the opportunity to explore with the Doctoral School Head to discuss how best to support it in the future.

Ms Laura Cream
Head of Public Engagement Unit

Regulations & Assessment

Currently being prepared

Library Services

PRES Question: Free text comments on Library Services

Issues Identified (you said) Actions (we did) Contacts
“Library Services do not provide the resources (print or electronic) that I need for my research.” PGR students are sent a personal message by their subject or local site librarian when they being their programme outlining services provided by the Library and inviting them to visit their local library. Library Services will establish a measure to ensure that this is being done for all PGR students; An annual reminder will be sent to all PGR students describing the services available to research students, including their subject contact with in the Library, how to suggest items for purchase, Interlibrary loans service, access schemes to specialist libraries and other research collections. Miss June Hedges
Head of Liaison and Support Services
“The Digital Library and access to online resources supports my research.” Library Services will continue to invest in its Digital Library provision, working with faculties and departments to ensure that new resources meet research needs. Miss June Hedges
Head of Liaison and Support Services
“The Libraries are overcrowded and there is no designated PGR only space within library-managed space.” Investigate PG-only learning spaces (possibly outside current library footprint); Survey work to establish PGR preferences and priorities for space; PG-only access control to be installed at Main Lib Res Grid Summer 2018. Mr Benjamin Meunier
Directior of Operations

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) and free text comments

Issues Identified (you said) Commentary / context Actions (we did) Contacts
The results show that understanding of research integrity remains generally high across each faculty which is very encouraging. The results are in-line with the sector results, though they do show a slight decrease from the 2015 survey in some faculties. The research integrity website continues to be updated to provide further guidance for researchers regarding research integrity, which includes a UCL definition of sensitive research and accompanying guidance. There is also a Twitter account to increase awareness of new posts/issues, and a more formal newsletter is planned. An “Introduction to Research Support & Integrity” Postgraduate workshop run through the Doctoral Skills Development Programme was created for 2016-17 and run several times over the academic year, which is continuing throughout 2017-18. This workshop forms a core element of the new Research Integrity Training Framework (see below) for Level 2.

A dedicated policy and governance post is being recruited which will lead on creating further guidance for researchers, focussing initially on the Nagoya Protocol and managing sensitive research. A more formal research integrity newsletter is in planning, which will provide an additional direct means of communicating information on research integrity related policies, guidance, and training, etc.

Work is being undertaken to create an online version of the Introduction to Research Support & Integrity workshop in order to enable wider accessibility, particularly for distance-learners and part-time students.

Miss Rowena Lamb
OVPR Research Integrity Team
Some responders reported that they would prefer clearer guidance on what training they should attend in their first year, and that some courses were often fully booked early on. In 2017 the Research Integrity Training Framework was published. The Framework is designed to assist researchers in assessing their training needs according to the research they are undertaking, as well as acting as a reference to assist researchers throughout the research lifecycle in ensuring their research has integrity. The Framework has core elements for all, but is adaptable depending on the needs of the individual; experienced researcher, new staff or postgraduate researcher, etc. The Framework currently refers directly to examples of courses available to researchers in order to guide researchers in applying the Framework to their own learning needs. A review of training provisions (both face-to-face and online) will begin, with further guidance on courses available added to the Framework. This will initially focus on mandatory training, as well as training on the 'elements of integrity'; ethics, data protection, research data management, etc.
The survey indicated that discipline specific guidance were proving useful for respondents to more easily translate information and ideas directly to their own research and further guidance was requested.   A new expanded research ethics website is planned which, similar to the research integrity website, will act as a central point of guidance for researchers on research ethics. It is planned to collate further disciplinary specific examples and guidance for use across disciplines.
The use of dilemma scenarios for discussion within training sessions was commented as being a useful tool to both introduce issues that may arise, as well as to promote the open discussion of research integrity issues. The Erasmus University Rotterdam's Dilemma Game has proven to be a very useful training tool. It is planned to begin to create additional UCL specific dilemmas for use in training, which may include ones with a discipline specific focus.
Some responses to the survey indicated that there were some areas of concern regarding standards of behaviour and how standards of integrity could be supported. A formal Research Integrity Advisers and Champions Network is in planning which will provide a clear network across UCL to increase awareness and provide local guidance, as well as to provide a local point of contact to discuss areas of concern.

PRES 2017 RESULTS

UCL's headline PRES 2017 results compared to the Sector are below, followed by a closer analysis of each question by Faculty and details of how the 2017 results compare to those from 2015. At the end you can also look at the responses analysed by some key demographic data (i.e. gender, mode of study etc.)

The PRES 2017 national report is available on the HEA website.

You can also view the PRES 2015 results and the actions taken.


 
Comparing UCL to the Sector, the most positive statements were:% agreeDifference
1. I have access to the specialist resources necessary for my research (n = 3472)83%1.6%
2. My department provides a good seminar programme (n = 3530)75%0.4%
3. Other than my supervisor/s, I know who to approach if I am concerned about any aspect of my degree programme (n = 3587)78%-0.3%
   
Comparing UCL to the Sector, the most negative statements were:% agreeDifference
1. I have a suitable working space (n = 3442)71%-7.3%
2. There is adequate provision of computing resources and facilities (n = 3478)71%-7.0%
3. My supervisor/s help me to identify my training and development needs as a researcher (n = 3551)70%-4.8%

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 96% and a lowest of 88%.

highest value  highest value 
midpoint value  midpoint 
lowest value  lowest value

% agreeing: "Mostly agree" + "Definitely agree" unless otherwise stated
*   UCL only question
**  2015/17 comparison is not available as the HEA have changed their method of calculation for this question between surveys.

ART BRN BEN ENG IOE LAW LIF MAP MED PHS SHS Sector UCL UCL2017vs2015
SUPERVISION                            
My supervisor/s have the skills and subject knowledge to support my research 96% 91% 90% 88% 92% 90% 91% 91% 89% 90% 94% 92% 91% 0%
I have regular contact with my supervisor/s, appropriate for my needs 88% 87% 85% 87% 85% 65% 86% 85% 84% 84% 83% 88% 85% -1%
My supervisor/s provide feedback that helps me direct my research activities 90% 84% 87% 83% 88% 77% 83% 82% 82% 84% 86% 87% 84% -2%
My supervisor/s help me to identify my training and development needs as a researcher 70% 72% 69% 69% 69% 62% 69% 73% 67% 68% 70% 74% 70% 0%
Overall I am satisfied with the supervision I have received. 88% 81% 82% 80% 87% 74% 80% 83% 75% 80% 80% * 81% -1%
RESOURCES                            
I have a suitable working space 35% 77% 61% 75% 53% 47% 86% 68% 83% 82% 62% 78% 71% -1%
There is adequate provision of computing resources and facilities 52% 79% 54% 78% 54% 45% 81% 74% 76% 83% 59% 78% 71% -2%
There is adequate provision of library facilities (including physical and online resources) 79% 91% 90% 86% 81% 94% 90% 86% 91% 92% 82% 88% 87% -1%
I have access to the specialist resources necessary for my research 77% 86% 71% 81% 74% 85% 89% 85% 87% 90% 82% 81% 83% -2%
RESEARCH CULTURE                            
My department provides a good seminar programme 73% 82% 75% 71% 60% 74% 79% 83% 74% 76% 82% 75% 75% -1%
I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students 66% 69% 61% 66% 44% 81% 71% 70% 72% 63% 69% 67% 65% 1%
The research ambience in my department or faculty stimulates my work 55% 70% 64% 64% 45% 55% 71% 64% 64% 65% 62% 64% 63% -2%
I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department 63% 60% 54% 60% 46% 50% 62% 64% 62% 59% 60% 61% 59% -3%
PROGRESSION                            
I received an appropriate induction to my research degree programme 67% 78% 68% 68% 74% 81% 80% 71% 63% 74% 66% 75% 71% 1%
I understand the requirements and deadlines for formal monitoring of my progress 85% 86% 81% 80% 79% 87% 84% 83% 80% 88% 79% 85% 82% 0%
I understand the required standard for my thesis 80% 72% 79% 73% 80% 81% 73% 70% 74% 75% 77% 78% 75% 1%
The final assessment procedures for my degree are clear to me 81% 71% 70% 71% 71% 81% 67% 69% 68% 71% 72% 75% 71% 1%
RESPONSIBILITES                            
My institution values and responds to feedback from research degree students 60% 65% 60% 60% 55% 61% 60% 57% 54% 64% 55% 62% 59% 2%
I understand my responsibilities as a research degree student 85% 90% 88% 85% 85% 84% 90% 85% 84% 87% 81% 89% 86% 0%
I am aware of my supervisors' responsibilities towards me as a research degree student 86% 83% 82% 77% 88% 87% 83% 80% 82% 85% 83% 86% 83% 0%
Other than my supervisor/s, I know who to approach if I am concerned about any aspect of my degree programme 74% 85% 78% 73% 67% 90% 84% 79% 77% 84% 78% 78% 78% 3%
RESEARCH SKILLS                            
My skills in applying appropriate research methodologies, tools and techniques have developed during my programme 87% 90% 89% 90% 84% 90% 93% 90% 93% 93% 86% 90% 90% 0%
My skills in critically analysing and evaluating findings and results have developed during my programme 89% 88% 87% 87% 81% 94% 89% 91% 90% 91% 86% 89% 88% 0%
My confidence to be creative or innovative has developed during my programme 81% 77% 75% 75% 75% 68% 81% 75% 80% 81% 68% 79% 76% 0%
My understanding of 'research integrity' has developed during my programme 76% 87% 83% 84% 85% 90% 83% 81% 83% 89% 78% 86% 84% 0%
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT                            
My ability to manage projects has developed during my programme 73% 85% 71% 80% 67% 80% 87% 83% 88% 90% 71% 82% 80% 1%
My ability to communicate information effectively to diverse audiences has developed during my programme 76% 81% 72% 80% 65% 77% 82% 79% 82% 85% 74% 81% 78% 1%
I have developed contacts or professional networks during my programme 69% 71% 73% 68% 60% 81% 72% 67% 70% 79% 77% 72% 70% 0%
I have increasingly managed my own professional development during my programme 74% 83% 78% 81% 75% 94% 81% 77% 82% 86% 77% 83% 80% 1%
SKILLS TRAINING & ADVICE (Key: % agree for "Yes")                            
Agreeing a personal training or development plan 34% 40% 34% 35% 36% 19% 30% 30% 38% 46% 29% 44% 35% 2%
Receiving training to develop my research skills 69% 82% 77% 74% 82% 65% 82% 74% 79% 85% 73% 78% 78% 0%
Receiving training to develop my transferable skills 34% 50% 45% 51% 31% 26% 53% 47% 46% 54% 36% 48% 46% -1%
Receiving advice on career options 37% 32% 28% 29% 17% 39% 43% 31% 35% 43% 26% 31% 32% 0%
DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES                            
Taking part in a placement or internship 6% 22% 10% 18% 6% 10% 16% 14% 9% 13% 9% 12% 13% 1%
Attending an academic research conference 85% 74% 73% 71% 61% 90% 72% 79% 78% 83% 78% 73% 75% 1%
Presenting a paper or poster at an academic research conference 67% 57% 51% 61% 49% 77% 60% 61% 65% 72% 62% 61% 60% 1%
Submitting a paper for publication in an academic journal or book 38% 40% 39% 42% 32% 65% 37% 40% 45% 53% 38% 39% 41% 1%
Communicating your research to a non-academic audience 39% 40% 44% 39% 32% 35% 33% 36% 35% 41% 34% 39% 37% 2%
TEACHING                            
Taught (or demonstrated) at your institution during your research degree programme (Key: % agree for "Yes") 57% 36% 44% 63% 23% 61% 45% 51% 39% 46% 52% 51% 46% 2%
Given appropriate support and guidance for your teaching (Key: % agree for "Yes") 54% 57% 64% 55% 57% 53% 57% 61% 57% 57% 65% 60% 58% 4%
Received formal training for your teaching 76% 45% 58% 63% 46% 53% 61% 60% 41% 39% 69% 62% 57% 9%
OVERALL EXPERIENCE                            
Overall, I am satisfied with the experience of my research degree programme 83% 83% 79% 78% 76% 68% 83% 85% 78% 82% 80% 82% 80% -1%
I am confident that I will complete my research degree programme within my institution's expected timescale 85% 85% 77% 78% 83% 65% 81% 80% 81% 81% 78% 82% 81% 0%
CODE OF PRACTICE                            
I am aware of the UCL Doctoral School Code of Practice for Research Degrees 61% 64% 65% 60% 70% 84% 64% 60% 59% 71% 60% * 63% 3%
ENGLISH LANGUAGE SUPPORT                            
English Fluency (Key: % agree for "Yes") 93% 93% 82% 87% 88% 94% 93% 88% 89% 92% 92% * 90% -1%
Received appropriate support for English language needs. (Key: % agree for Definitely agree + Mostly agree) 27% 22% 48% 42% 20% 50% 31% 37% 23% 26% 32% 41% 33% **

UCL Results analysed by key student demographics

INCLUDE:
Gender, Age, Disability, Nationality, Qualification, Training via DTC, Motivation to study, Year, Study mode, Fee status, Stage of research, Career plans

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