The findings of the study by NatCen into the feasibility of conducting a survey of postgraduate taught (PGT) students concluded that, due to the small cohort sizes of many PGT courses, data would not be publishable at course level for the majority of PGT programmes.
The early findings from this work show that there was mixed enthusiasm at institutions for a survey, with a number voicing concerns over the possibility of league tables developing from such a survey, and the potential burden of conducting it.
If a survey went ahead, there was enthusiasm from institutions for all PGT students to be surveyed, not just those on masters’ courses or in large classes.
Also, most stakeholders favoured a methodology similar to the National Student Survey (NSS) – online, with postal and telephone follow-ups. This was seen to be the most likely to provide an appropriate balance between cost effectiveness and a reasonable response rate.
In order to provide meaningful data, results from the survey would need to be aggregated at the same level as the undergraduate NSS – a threshold of 23 responses, where represents at least 50 per cent of the course cohort. As many PGT courses have small cohort sizes, this meant that course level data would not, in the case of the majority of courses, always be available. This has clear implications for the usefulness of the data as, in the parallel study by I-Graduate towards understanding the information needs of PGT students, these students expressed a strong interest in data presented at course level rather than subject or department level.