The Office for Students is developing options for a feedback survey for taught postgraduate (PGT) students.
We want to ensure all students have a positive experience of higher education, and are highly satisfied with the quality of teaching, learning, wider experience and outcomes. A key way to understand that experience is to hear from students themselves.
Currently undergraduate students can give their views through the National Student Survey (NSS) and their insights have helped to improve teaching. There is no comparable opportunity for PGT students and the broad postgraduate voice is not as well represented, including in policy development.
So we are undertaking a programme of research and testing which, in time, will establish a survey to provide PGT students with an opportunity to comment on their experience.
The responses could be used to:
- increase transparency and accountability around taught postgraduate provision
- help prospective postgraduates make decisions about where to study
- help universities and colleges to improve the student experience.
In 2015, the UK higher education funding bodies consulted on the principle of a national survey of PGT students as part of the Review of information about learning and teaching. Responses to the consultation lent support to the development of proposals for a future PGT survey.
As a next step the UK funding bodies commissioned a study on developing such a survey. The final report explored possible survey content and made recommendations for its structure.
We are adopting an experimental approach to developing a future PGT survey. The postgraduate student body and courses are diverse and we will need to test different options – in terms of timing, methodology and content - so that our approach is robust.
Building on previous research, we will:
- Run a sample survey of PGT students in England in spring 2019 focusing on OfS strategic priorities.
- Undertake a feasibility study to explore options for a future census-type survey, working with UK partners on opportunities to incorporate UK-wide priorities where this will benefit students.
2019 sample survey
The 2019 sample survey will provide broad insights into postgraduate students’ perceptions of their experience. With its links to OfS strategic priorities, it will inform policy development.
At the same time it will help to:
- shape and validate survey questions that are relevant to PGT students at English providers
- and inform the feasibility of developing a full census survey.
In October 2018 we issued an invitation to tender for suppliers to develop and manage the survey.
In early November 2018 we invited higher education providers in England to take part in the research. Those participating will send the survey link to all their PGT students in spring 2019, for completion by the summer.
Aggregate data from the survey will be published in 2019. No individual higher education providers will be identified, and the OfS will not use the data to form any judgements on specific universities or colleges or their courses.
We are encouraging all universities and colleges in England which run taught postgraduate courses to take part in this valuable research.
Further information is available from [email protected]