Making PhD life better: Our PRES Response

Imperial College Union works on behalf of its Postgraduate members - amplifying their voice and fighting to improve their academic and social experience while studying at Imperial College London.

Every two years, the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) measures the satisfaction of doctoral research students across the UK. It covers a wide range of criteria, such as the quality of supervision, the physical facilities offered to each Postgraduate, and the professional development opportunities made available by each university.

Imperial College Union has a successful track record of turning student survey opinions into campaigns and student-led agendas for change.

In five years of producing Responses and presenting coherent platforms for improving educational and wellbeing support in the College community, we have taken part in critical conversations and set the terms for the key issues of the future - such as student mental health, the role of personal development, accreditation of extra-curricular activities, and more. With the PRES Response, we are taking the issue that most deeply concerns our PhD members - the quality of their research supervision - and bringing it to the attention of College's leaders and decision-makers. 

Our PRES Response is divided into three chapters, each focusing on an important aspect of the PhD experience. In total, we make 35 recommendations for changes that College - and Imperial College Union - can put in place, to make PhD life better.

Research Supervision

This section covers:

  • The supervisor-supervisee relationship
  • Power dynamics
  • Multiple supervisors and interdisciplinary PhDs

Work Environment

This section covers:

  • Workstations
  • Work space and equipment
  • Overtime work and personal safety
  • Professional development

Student Communities

This section covers:

  • Collaborative atmospheres
  • Feedback for personal development
  • Teaching support
  • Stress and mental health
  • Recognising life beyond the lab
  • Imperial College Union

We're working with Postgraduate Academic Representatives to make life better for Imperial's PhD students.

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