Doctoral Surveys

The Doctoral School conducted a new in-depth survey to assess the quality of its doctoral education and potential areas for improvement, asking doctoral candidates about their expectations, experience and well-being.

The survey incorporated a number of internationnally recognised and validated survey-research instruments to allow the EPFL experiences to be benchmarked against international norms.

The response rate is 48% (1043 doctoral candidates respondents) and the sample was representative of the wider doctoral population in terms of gender, doctoral program, faculty and year of study.

The survey revealed that, overall, doctoral candidates are satisfied with their doctoral studies. However, their mental health and well-being are a growing concern, as it is in many other universities around the world. Their supervision experience, skills development and readiness for future employment could be further developed.

The data analysis and the writing of the survey report was completed by Roland Tormey from the Teaching Support Centre (CAPE). Qualitative data analysis on open questions was completed by Nadine Stainier, also from CAPE.

A working group has been set up to propose measures to address these issues by July 2019.

The following document, result of the working group, describes the strategy of the Doctoral School, which was presented to the EPFL Direction:

EPFL, October 2019

The Doctorat II questionnaire follows up on the 2005 questionnaire (Doctorat I). The questionnaire was compiled by the Dean of the Doctoral School in consultation with a working group composed of doctoral program directors, thesis directors, doctoral students and doctoral program administrative assistants. It was developed in collaboration with CRAFT and HR (for links to Atmos II).

The questionnaire was sent to all 1,952 doctoral students then registered (the total population in 2005 stood at 1,330 – an increase of 47% in seven years). There were 1,217 respondents to the survey; this represents a response rate of 62%. The response rate for the 2005 survey was 78%, for a significantly shorter survey (54 questions in 2005 compared to up to 74 in 2012).

The data set was analysed and the report prepared by Roland Tormey of CRAFT. Jacques Giovanola prepared the ‘Executive summary’ and ‘Discussion and conclusions’ sections. Open questions were codified and analysed by David Bréchet, Ingrid Le Duc, Nadine Stainier and Jean-Louis Ricci of CRAFT.

EPFL, July 2012