HEA and Vitae publish good practice guide


The Higher Education Academy has today, Monday 3 September 2012, published a good practice guide setting out how institutions use its Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) to enhance the experience of postgraduate researchers.

The guide ‘using PRES to enhance the experience of postgraduate researchers', was developed by Vitae for the HEA and will be presented today to participants at the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference: Realising the potential of researchers. It presents results from research with users of the survey conducted in July-August 2012 and is designed to help institutions make the most of data gathered through PRES. The guide also includes a set of case studies highlighting successful approaches for using the results from PRES to make enhancements to the postgraduate research experience.

Dr Paul Bennett, Academic Lead (Surveys and Consultancy) at the HEA said:

    ‘I am delighted that PRES users have been so willing to share examples of excellent practice. These case studies will help all institutions act efficiently, imaginatively and effectively on their survey results and make real improvements to the experiences of their postgraduate researchers.’

The HEA welcomes further case studies from institutions willing to share examples of PRES-related enhancements or successful approaches to engaging the various stakeholders in making full use of data gathered through PRES.

PRES is widely championed at senior level within institutions and integrated into institutional processes. The case studies and survey results together confirm that significant enhancements are being implemented in all areas of the researcher experience and that PRES is fulfilling an important role not only as a survey instrument permitting rich analysis but also as a focus for involving postgraduate researchers in continual enhancement of research degree programmes.

    ‘It was refreshing to find so many reporting the involvement of postgraduate researchers themselves, particularly in decision-making about enhancements based on PRES results.’

    Janet Metcalfe, Chair and Head of Vitae

Actions suggested by the recent survey results will inform the HEA's work in supporting institutions to use PRES results in making enhancements to the postgraduate research experience.

The call for expressions of interest in participating in the next Postgraduate Research Experience Survey will open on 5 September 2012.

The guide is available to download from Monday 3 September:

PRES is a national survey of postgraduate researchers run by the HEA in conjunction with participating institutions. It takes place every other year, with the next survey opening in March 2013. 31,202 postgraduate researchers from 102 higher education institutions took part in the last Postgraduate Research Experience Survey. PRES is explicitly designed with enhancement in mind - findings from the survey are intended to help inform discussions and decisions within institutions about improvements to teaching and learning.

For further information, please contact:

Karen O'Rourke, Higher Education Academy, 01904 717543.

  • The Higher Education Academy is a national body for learning and teaching in higher education.
  • We work with universities and other higher education providers to help bring about change in learning and teaching.
  • We do this to improve the experience that students have while they are studying, and to support and develop those who teach them.
  • Our activities focus on rewarding and recognising excellence in teaching, bringing together people and resources to research and share best practice, and by helping to influence, shape and implement policy -  locally, nationally, and internationally.

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