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Surveys & Insights Conference 2021

Surveys & Insights Conference 2021: Adapting to challenging times

This conference provided an opportunity to discuss and debate the potential of insights from surveys, qualitative research and wider methods of capturing the student voice.

In the past few months the higher education sector has faced unprecedented challenges. While gathering and reflecting the student voice has always been critical, it has arguably become even more necessary in these times to ensure the quality of the student experience as it evolves. 

Surveys, measurement tools, qualitative research and other techniques have a key role to play in capturing and understanding feedback from students and staff. The wider insight generated from these techniques can in turn deliver creative solutions with real impact. 

This conference was delivered via our virtual conference platform. The programme included a live keynote speaker, parallel workshops, oral presentations and discussion, plus on-demand oral presentations and a virtual poster exhibition.

Join the conversation at #SurveyConf21

Date: 28 April 2021

Venue: Virtual

Who: All higher education professionals

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Conference aims

The conference provided an opportunity to:

  • showcase insights from surveys, bringing together keynote speakers, panels, on-demand oral presentations, posters and virtual workshops to explore real examples of innovative approaches to gathering feedback from undergraduates, postgraduates and staff
  • to discuss and debate the potential of insight from surveys, metrics, qualitative research and wider methods of capturing the voice of the student for driving excellence and enhancement within higher education
  • network and help foster discussions which will be beneficial across the sector.
"Conferences such as these are fantastic for giving us the space and time to think about how we do things. The Surveys conference always gives food for thought in how we can reflect on our experiences to improve the experience of our students.”  Kunal Swani, Data Research Manager, University of Wolverhampton
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Why you should be there

Maddie Pitkin, Research & Insights Executive, Advance HE, discussed some of the highlights of the conference.


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Conference themes

The overarching theme for the conference was Adapting to challenging times and it addressed the following thematic areas:

Adapting to challenging times

The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic has required institutions to adapt and innovate in terms of their delivery. Accordingly, the student experience was delivered very differently – but often very successfully. How did your institution ensure that the student voice was captured and reflected in any decisions made, and how have surveys, research and measurement tools played a role in helping shape teaching and learning strategy in challenging times?

Measuring the quality of learning

In light of the recent high-profile review of the National Student Survey (NSS), the spotlight has fallen on how best to capture the student experience in a way that links through to quality. Student Engagement Surveys provide one potential approach for assessing whether students are spending their time effectively. What other approaches are being adopted? This theme provided the opportunity to showcase new and innovative practice which captures the student voice in a way which drives forward the discussion on quality.

The BAME student experience gap

Unfortunately, not all students have the same experience of university. The Advance HE – HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey highlighted that less than half of Black undergraduate students would choose the same course and university again, while less than one third of Asian, Chinese or Mixed students felt they received good value for money. There is also published evidence from the Advance HE 2020 PTES survey that postgraduates aged 30 or younger from Black, Asian or “Other” Ethnic backgrounds report the lowest levels of satisfaction. Comparing these sources helped us provide a holistic picture or the issues facing BAME students. We also showcased how institutions and practitioners are using insight from qualitative and quantitative research to respond to the challenge of fully understanding and addressing the BAME student experience gap.

Supporting students

Student wellbeing was another key area for focus. Clear evidence continues to emerge that being a student is often a challenging and stressful time which can impact on wellbeing and mental health, with the Coronavirus pandemic creating even greater challenges. In light of these challenges, understanding the difficulties faced was perhaps more important than ever in order to provide the right level of support. How have surveys and other research methods been used to address this issue? What has really made a difference in helping to understand the issues?
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Conference programme

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Surveys & Insights Conference 2021 programme

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Conference abstracts

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Surveys & Insights Conference 2021 - On-Demand Session Abstracts

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Surveys & Insights Conference 2021 - Live Session Abstracts

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A digital conferencing experience

This year's Surveys & Insights Conference was delivered online on our virtual conference platform. This provided delegates with a flexible, immersive and engaging digital experience where they could develop their practice, share their ideas and grow their network. All delegates had access to the following features:

  • a full day of live-streamed sessions of speakers, panel discussions and workshops
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments during all sessions
  • full online support throughout the day
  • flexibility to attend sessions at leisure with access to all session recordings after the conference allowing delegates to browse and catch up on anything that may have missed
  • a virtual poster exhibition space where delegates could explore case studies and innovative approaches from the sector
  • opportunity to interact with other delegates from around the world in a virtual networking space
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Keynote speaker

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson, PhD (PFHEA)

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson is an Associate Professor of Education in the Centre for Higher Education Research & Scholarship (CHERS) at Imperial College London.

Camille is an international expert in higher education research with a focus on student engagement; student outcomes and learning gain; quality, performance and accountability; and gender and prestige in academic work.

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson
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Event sponsors

EvaSys - sponsor logo

EvaSys has been a market-leading supplier of survey and exam solutions for over 20 years, with 1000+ customers worldwide, two-thirds of whom are education institutions, and 60+ Universities within the UK and Ireland.

EvaSys delivers: high survey response rates; extensive academic and student engagement; evaluation consistency; instant reporting to inform decisions; and powerful, flexible reporting for all stakeholders.

EvaExam assessments provide: secure, online, proctored exams; summative assessments and formative tests; immediate reporting with question analysis and mark distribution; reductions in marking time from days to hours; and accelerated results for students.

The UK office offers dedicated account, implementation, training and customer support to clients across the UK and Ireland, supported by development, technical and training teams in Germany.


Find out more

At Explorance, we believe that each experience matters. From students in higher education to employees at the workplace, feedback is vital to the lifelong learner's journey. That's why Explorance's mission is to help organisations create a personalised journey of impact and fulfillment for their people through innovative Experience Management (XM) solutions.

The Blue Student Experience Management platform offers a single source of truth from a centralised process. Blue is purpose-built to fully automate all major student feedback gathering initiatives - institutional surveys, course evaluations, competency assessments, alumni surveys – all on one platform.

Find out more
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Surveys & Insights Conference 2020 highlights

To view the highlights of last year's Surveys & Insights Conference 2020, please visit our web page here.