Published: 16-03-2022 11:25 | Updated: 16-03-2022 11:27

Exit Poll 2021: Doctoral students are overall satisfied with their doctoral studies

Since 2008, doctoral students at KI are invited, soon after their thesis defence, to complete an anonymous survey, the Exit Poll. The about 80 % response rate is high, making it an important and useful tool for identifying areas for further development of KI’s doctoral education.

Every fourth year, a more comprehensive report is completed together with 22 departmental reports. This was done last year (covering years 2017-2020).

Graphic illustration of a trend that doctoral students are increasingly satisfied with their doctoral education.
Answers to the statement "Overall I am satisfied with my doctoral education", year 2013-2021. Excerpt from the report "Exit poll for doctoral students 2021".

Overall satisfaction

The results from 2021 show a positive development in almost every aspect covered by the questionnaire. There has been a slow positive trend over many years, but this year a distinct leap upwards can be seen.

Report: Exit poll for doctoral students 2021

Participation in the survey makes a difference

Results from the Exit Poll are used as background information in discussions and as basis for decisions within the Committee for Doctoral Education (KFU). It is important to get feedback from doctoral students, and many of the respondents also take the opportunity to leave free-text comments with interesting stories and suggestions. These comments are not published but are read thoroughly by the academic vice president Bob Harris and the central study director, and these comments contribute to the overall impression of the situation of doctoral students.

Robert (Bob) Harris, Academic Vice President for Doctoral Education and chairperson in the Committee for doctoral education. Foto: Stefan Zimmerman.

 ”Many people have worked for many years towards the aim that KI should offer a world-class doctoral education, says Bob Harris, Academic vice president for doctoral education. Not only the Committee for Doctoral Education, but also to a great extent the departmental study directors, the administration, and many others. It is not unexpected that this positive experience of graduating PhD students can be seen.

This year, I have had a dialogue with each departmental management group using the departmental Exit Poll report a starting point for the discussion. My impression is that the departments take these results seriously and that there is an ongoing work to make further improvements at a departmental level.

I really want to encourage every doctoral student to take the chance to participate in the Exit Poll and give us feed-back in this way.”

Even though 9/10 doctoral students are content, there is still a small group that have been subjected to unwanted situations or who consider that they have not been given the education and the supervision they expected. 11 % of the respondents state to have experienced unequal treatment, discrimination, degrading behaviour and/or harassment. Even if every case is a failure for KI, this is the lowest number measured since we started asking these questions.

Effects of the pandemic

Questions have been added to the questionnaire relating to how the Covid 19-pandemic has affected the doctoral students. About half of the respondents answered that their doctoral education has been affected to some, or to a great, extent. But it has not only been something negative: around 1/5 responded that the pandemic has given them more time for research and courses, and 12 % answered that the pandemic has provided new research or learning opportunities. On the negative side is reduced access to supervisors and colleagues the most common reply, and 1/5 has replied that the pandemic influenced their mental health.