Completing PRES is just the beginning…

During your research degree at Surrey, you will become familiar with the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, or ‘PRES’ for short.

PRES is an incredibly useful survey because it enables us to identify aspects of your doctoral experience at Surrey that you like, as well as hone in on areas that we need to improve. This year, 578 of you completed the survey, giving us our largest response rate ever of 55%. With so many of you taking the time to reflect on your experience and share your views with us, we wanted to give you an insight into what happens after you click the ‘submit responses’ button.

Data crunching

The day after PRES closes, our Strategic Planning team take the raw data and produce summary dashboards at University, Faculty, and departmental level. These dashboards provide a helpful ‘at-a-glance’ overview of the results, drawing attention to high scoring areas and flagging areas that might need attention. We also receive a sector-level report, enabling us to benchmark the PGR experience at Surrey with other universities.

In parallel, the Doctoral College team carefully read through every comment made in the survey, categorise it by theme, and mark it as positive, neutral or negative. The categorised comments are then filtered by department and paired up with the dashboards.

Responding to PRES

Whilst I personally find the data crunching aspect of PRES very enjoyable, the real value of PRES stems from the follow up actions and changes. We have learnt over the years that a one-size-fits-all approach to PRES is not very effective and so every department now gets a copy of its dashboard and comments to inform a local action plan.

This year, we aim to be more transparent about the actions that are being taken in response to PRES. Over the coming month, look out for action plans being published on MySurrey. We will also provide updates throughout the year so that you can see how actions are progressing.

Because PRES feedback touches on other areas of the University, some University-wide departments will also be reviewing their services in light of PRES. The Doctoral College will be leading the way on this and we will share our team’s action plan with you.

Keeping the conversation going

Whilst PRES is an important driver of change, it only happens once a year. We think that it’s really important to keep a continuous dialogue going. We urge you to use the PGR rep system to raise topics for discussion – the good, the bad, and the ugly – at your Engagement Forum. We will also be running a series of blog posts by you to facilitate discussion about what is important to you and to signpost to where support is available.

We very much see this as a partnership and hope that our collective efforts on PRES will make your Surrey experience second to none. It all starts with you completing the survey, but it certainly doesn’t stop there.

Shane Dowle
Studentships and Programmes Manager
Doctoral College