PGR Voice Survey results and actions

Here’s what you told us in last year’s PGR Voice survey and the actions we are taking forward

PGR Voice survey logo

Thank you to everyone who completed the PGR Voice Survey, which ran between 2 May and 9 June 2023. 

The survey closed with an overall response rate of 47% (1657 responses). We heard from PGRs at all stages of their programme across the University, giving us an in-depth and representative insight into the PGR experience.

What you told us

Overall the results are positive, with the majority of PGRs reporting that their experience has been good (44.6%), excellent (27.5%), or satisfactory (19.9%). 

74% of respondents told us that the research culture in their department is positive or very positive, and 92.9% said that their doctoral programme had fully or partially matched the expectations they had when starting the programme. 

73.6% of those still in their tuition fee paying period expect to submit during this timeframe. 

The strongest results were in the Supervision section - 58.5% of students rated their supervision as excellent and 25.8% as good, with qualitative feedback in this area being particularly positive.

The key area identified for further improvement was Training and Development, which received less positive responses than other sections - most PGRs assessed the overall offer as good (46.7%) or satisfactory (26.7%). PGRs told us training can be difficult to navigate, with gaps in some areas. This was reflected in the closing section also, as the most popular response when we asked which area the University should focus on to most improve the PGR experience. 

The biggest difference between the experiences of different groups of students was for PGRs with disabilities, who reported a less positive experience in several areas of the survey.    


The University PGR Committee has conducted a detailed analysis of the PGR Voice survey and identified a number of priority areas. We have created an action plan to improve the experience of our current and future PGRs. Below you will find projects that are already underway or scheduled to begin soon, grouped by theme.

Disabled PGRs

  • The Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) is redeveloping the way that it works with PGRs, including the creation of a dedicated hub webpage, a bespoke Research Support Plan (to replace the existing Learning Support Plan), and improvements to the way we communicate  the support that is available to international PGRs. This work is due to be completed during the 2023/24 academic year
  • The Disabled and Ill Researchers Network will be relaunched in March 2024.
  • Access to Disabled PGR Group mentoring has been improved by moving the booking process onto myDevelopment. 
  • External funding has been secured to promote an anti-ableist research culture at the university, which will encourage disclosure of poor practice and support better access for PGRs. There will also be a series of blogs written by disabled PGR students which will be added to the iHuman website
  • A cross-faculty project has been set up to identify levels of support available to disabled PGRs within departments and work to plug any gaps. A review is also being carried out of the Disability Liaison Officer role to ensure there is equitable coverage across the institution, and a training session for DLOs focusing on the PGR experience is taking place in April. 
  • The Disability Equality Strategy has a number of projects underway including a review of  financial support schemes and guidance materials, and  a review of the extenuating circumstances and leave of absence policies to reduce the administrative and emotional burden for disabled PGRs. 

Training & development

  • A working group is currently mapping existing training provision onto the 8 core competencies to make it easier for PGRs to plan out their development goals. The group will also aim to identify and fill any gaps in provision.
  • myDevelopment has been introduced as a simpler ‘one-stop-shop’ for all PGR training, removing the previous need to book onto training across numerous platforms.
  • Visibility and awareness of training and development opportunities has been improved with the creation of a DDP Training & Development hub, and the publication of a new brochure detailing centrally offered provision.

Desk / study space

  • The availability of desk or study space was particularly reported as a concern by  PGRs within the faculty of Arts & Humanities. This year the faculty opened their brand new Graduate School Centre, which was co-created with PGRs and offers bookable desks and social and meeting spaces. Many PGRs within the faculty of Social Sciences have also benefited from the opening of the Wave, greatly expanding available facilities.
  • The PGR Code of Practice will be reviewed and updated to establish minimum baseline space / facilities requirements for departments / schools and their PGR communities.

Community building

  • A new mentoring programme has been established this year across all faculties. PGR Connect will link up new and experienced PGRs and hold a series of social events. The university also supports the Umii app which helps PGRs to connect with each other.
  • The Students’ Union has improved its engagement with the PGRs community with the creation of a new Hub webpage which provides contacts and information on PGR representation and advertises social activities. Several PGR events and forums have taken place this year, the next being the PGR Ask Your University evening on Monday 25 March.  
  • A Welcome and Induction Network has recently been created to improve the quality and consistency of induction activities across the university by sharing good practice.
  • A university-wide annual poster competition has been established to bring together PGRs of different disciplinary backgrounds.

Challenges in supervisory relationships

  • A review of the Report and Support service is currently underway, the University PGR Committee has provided feedback about PGR specific concerns to inform this work. The service is being frequently promoted across PGR channels as a way to raise concerns, access support and consider next steps, along with information on other ways to address concerns via impartial departmental / school contacts.  
  • The mandatory continuing professional development requirements for supervisors has recently introduced a system of sanctions which will apply to those who do not engage with and complete the programme, ensuring all supervisors undertake regular training to develop their practice. 
  • New institutional guidance is being developed for departments / schools managing changes to a PGR’s primary supervisor, defining required timescales, things to consider, good practice and enhanced support departments are expected to provide. 

How we communicate with you

  • PGR-focussed central web pages have been reviewed and updated, with the creation of a new PGR Hub, and optimisation of the search engine to make key information easier to find. 
  • A new bespoke newsletter for PGRs was launched in 2023 which will ensure PGRs are kept up to date with key information and events, and reduce the number of emails that PGRs receive.
  • Pre-arrival emails sent to incoming students have  been updated and improved to fully differentiate from Postgraduate Taught student communications.
  • As part of the university restructure to a schools model, a full review of departmental PGR handbooks, Google sites and intranets will be carried out to ensure consistency across the university.

Project Planning and supporting the timely submission of your thesis

  • Milestone planning has been reviewed and improved, with the Confirmation Review now including a section on contingency planning and risk mitigation so that all PGRs formally consider the actions they will take if their research doesn’t go as planned.
  • The mandatory training for supervisors now includes a topic on helping PGRs to create and manage their project plans.
  • The university is currently investigating a new IT tool to help PGRs and their supervisors to monitor their project progression and doctoral programme milestones in one place.

Still have questions about PGR Voice, or the survey results?

You can email the PGR Voice Team on