2019 Postgraduate - s3.eu-west-2. Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019 Jonathan Neves and Jason

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  • 2019 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey Jonathan Neves and Jason Leman

    POSTGRADUATE

    TAUGHT EXPERIENCE

    SURVEY

  • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019

    Jonathan Neves and Jason Leman

    2

    Contents

    1. Executive Summary 4

    2. Methodology 5

    2.1 Approach 5

    2.2 Participation 6

    2.3 Sector benchmark groups 6

    3. The overall experience 6

    3.1 Overall satisfaction 6

    3.2 Postgraduate vs undergraduate comparison 7

    3.3 Trends in taught postgraduate satisfaction 8

    3.4 Lowest-scoring items over time 9

    3.5 Benchmark group comparison 10

    3.6 Overall satisfaction by subject 11

    3.7 Opportunities to provide feedback on the experience 12

    4. How could the experience be improved? 13

    4.1 Correlation analysis 13

    4.2 Areas for improvement – free text analysis 14

    5. Retention 17

    5.1 Likelihood to consider leaving 17

    5.2 Reasons for considering leaving 17

    6. Ethnicity 19

    7. Time in paid work 21

    8. Overseas students 23

  • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019

    Jonathan Neves and Jason Leman

    3

    9. Motivations towards study 24

    9.1 Overall motivations towards study 24

    9.2 Motivations by ethnicity 25

    9.3 Other factors combined with ethnicity 26

    10. Motivations towards institution 27

    10.1 Motivations by ethnicity 28

    10.2 Ethnicity and reputation of the institution 29

    10.3 Ethnicity and location of the institution 30

    10.4 How motivation links to satisfaction 32

    11. Conclusions 34

    12. Appendix 35

    12.1 Participating institutions 35

  • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019

    Jonathan Neves and Jason Leman

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    1. Executive Summary

    Overall satisfaction is high and has remained consistent over several years. The one

    exception to this was in 2018, when a temporary dip in satisfaction appears to be related to

    UCU (University and College Union) strike action. Despite the strong scores, satisfaction

    levels remain slightly below those reported by undergraduates through the National Student

    Survey (NSS).

    In terms of specific aspects of the experience, institutions across the sector score

    particularly highly for providing effective resources (eg library, IT, subject-specific) and

    information, although organisation (logistics, guidance, communication) and assessment

    (criteria and timeliness) continue to be rated least positively. Most aspects of the experience

    score consistently above 70% or higher, but there are a handful of areas where scores are

    relatively low. The main specific aspect that requires attention is how to provide

    opportunities for postgraduate taught (PGT) students to be involved in decisions about how

    their course operates, which scores consistently lower than all the other measures in the

    survey.

    In 2019, for the first time, we have conducted detailed analysis of the open comments,

    specifically around suggestions for improvement. This analysis identified some key areas of

    consistency with the quantitative analysis, building a clear picture of some areas to prioritise

    across the sector. In particular, these included how teaching staff provide support and how

    the course is organised.

    A relatively small proportion, 20%, had considered leaving their PGT course to date, which

    compares favourably with similar data collected at undergraduate and postgraduate

    research (PGR) level – and is an endorsement of the levels of support provided across the

    sector.

    In terms of ethnicity, the results go against the stark White/BAME (Black, Asian and Minority

    Ethnic) contrast that we have previously found at undergraduate level. Instead, there is a

    more nuanced picture, with Black, Chinese and White students reporting strong satisfaction

    levels, contrasted by evidence of a more disappointing experience for Asian and Mixed

    students, as well as those of “Other” ethnicity. A particular challenge for investigating the

    concerns of these cohorts lies in the fact that they are comprised of a range of different

    subgroups, each of which may be facing their own particular issues.

    There is a strong picture among overseas students, who tend to report a very positive

    experience. One of the factors contributing to this is that overseas students tend to spend

    little time working for pay. Our analysis shows that time spent working for pay can link

  • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019

    Jonathan Neves and Jason Leman

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    strongly to a greater likelihood of leaving the course, and hence the high levels of retention

    among overseas students are likely to be strongly linked.

    Motivations for choosing an institution can vary, but analysis highlights how the type of

    motivation can be linked to the subsequent quality of the experience. Where students have

    chosen an institution based on reputation (of tutors, course or institution) or content of

    course, they tend to go on to be much more satisfied than those for whom the choice may

    have been a more restricted one – eg based on the location of the institution of whether

    there was funding available.

    2. Methodology

    2.1 Approach

    The Advance HE Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey was first piloted in 2009 and

    since then has become well established as the principal sector-wide barometer of the PGT

    experience. The survey was redesigned in 2014 after extensive research and consultation

    with the sector. Whilst the core survey is consistent, it continues to evolve, with the aim of

    reflecting the key sector concerns of the PGT experience and accommodating student and

    institutional diversity. Any student taking a course at masters level that is more than a single

    module is eligible to take part.

    PTES has been designed to provide key information to drive the enhancement of the PGT

    experience within institutions and across the sector. HEIs (Higher Education institutions)

    administer the survey through the Jisc Online Surveys platform, and own their results, which

    they can choose to publish or not as they believe appropriate. To support the dissemination

    of results, Advance HE provides institutions with a wide range of benchmarking dashboards

    and tables comparing performance to both sector results and benchmark groups as

    selected. These results are provided within six weeks of the close of the survey in order to

    provide the maximum opportunity to disseminate and drive action-planning from the findings.

    The survey window was open from 1 February to 14 June 2019. Institutions had the

    flexibility to choose when to run the survey within this window, as long as the survey was

    open for a minimum of three weeks.

  • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019

    Jonathan Neves and Jason Leman

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    2.2 Participation

    71,043 students participated in PTES in 2019, across 85 institutions. This represented a

    32% response rate. This response rate for a non-compulsory sector survey is very strong

    and represents a positive increase from 29% in 2018.

    Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

    Institutions 81 82 89 100 100 108 104 106 85

    PGT

    students

    38,756 54,640 58,679 67,580 72,200 82,707 84,556 85,880 71,043

    2.3 Sector benchmark groups

    In 2019, the following benchmark group comparison results were produced for participating

    institutions:

    3. The overall experience

    3.1 Overall satisfaction

    One of the key measures within PTES asks students about the extent to which they agree

    with the statement “Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course”. This question

    provides a simple barometer of student satisfaction and is a key starting point for looking at

    overall satisfaction levels, trends over time, and demographic differences.

    Sector Cathedrals Group Million Plus Small and Specialist Russell Group Pre-92 University Alliance Post-92 Guild HE

    82% 83% 82% 80% 82%

    2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

    Trends over time

  • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019

    Jonathan Neves and Jason Leman

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    Overall satisfaction is high and has remained remarkably consistent over time. Hence the

    sector overall is doing a good job of meeting the needs of PGT students. In 2018 we saw a

    decline, which our analysis at the time implied was likely (at least partly) to be related to the

    UCU strike action over pension arrangements, which occurred in 2018 at a time when many

    students would be completing the PTES survey. With this in mind it is encouraging, and also

    logical that, in the absence of any major strike action in 2019, levels of satisfaction have

    increased back up to their customary levels.

    3.2 Postgraduate vs undergraduate comparison

    To obtain a broader perspective of the postgraduate experience, we have made a direct

    comparison to the undergraduate

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