NPC and UKGRAD Survey - Preliminary Results

At present, NPC is undertaking a survey with UK GRAD on the user perspective of personal development planning for research students. The aim of this large scale online survey will be to determine the perceptions of the user in terms of how it helps them, whether it is too bureaucratic and what assistance/support they get from others such as supervisors. This will be important evidence as part of an initiative to use personal development planning as a means for the research student to monitor their personal progress throughout a research degree programme.

NPC is grateful to all those postgraduates who have responded to this survey so far and all those who have distributed details and encouraged research students to take part. The effectiveness of our email lists for online surveys has proved very helpful in terms of engaging the interests of postgraduates to the appropriate places. In this area of research, the data will certainly be of huge benefit to both UK GRAD and NPC as there are active plans to gain evidence from the user perspective on personal development planning for research students.

So far over 1000 responses have been received, with a wealth of written responses. This feature has been written to give a brief summary of what responses we have received so far, and thus encourage more responses since the more responses we get the merrier.


At the moment, the current demography of research students responded is as follows:

  • 85% Full Time, 13% Part Time
  • 77% from the UK, 8% from the EU, 14% from Overseas.
  • Age range: 20-25 42%, 25-35 42%, 35-45 8%, 45+ 7.33%
  • 37% Male, 62% Female

Sources of funding:


Year that research students are in:


From the above results, we are keen to ensure that this survey is further pushed to students who are from outside the UK, as well as Male students and part time students where possible. Those who are advertising the survey are encouraged to do this before the deadline for responses on the 6th June.

Questions on opinion

Out of those responded, 92% claimed they did use a review survey, 6% claimed they didn't. This will obviously provide helpful information in terms of what perceptions postgraduate research students have regarding their review system. Here are some highlights of what results show some startling responses.

As for what they thought personal development planning achieved, there is a stronger response in terms of progressing research, personal reflection and research planning. However there is less response in terms of assessing skills, planning training and recording data to put on a CV. Most responses, over 80%, were paper based. Further to this, the vast majority of cases were compulsory and also involved the supervisor in the process. Few cases involved careers advisors or tutors. It is also more often the case that reviews would be undertaken 6 monthly or yearly, with 65% feeling the system was satisfactory.

Mixed feelings are coming across as to how students perceive their supervisors, this will certainly take further analysis to see what exact role the supervisor plays. There are also interesting results as to how personal development planning improves competence in terms of the requirements of the joint skills statement.

Once the survey is closed, it will go to some in-depth analysis and a formal publication will be produced and available with further research brought together by UK GRAD.