Pulse Surveys – you said, we did


Pulse survey August 2021 - Call for Courses and funding rules

We asked you about the rolling call for courses through which senior researchers can currently apply for funding to organise courses for PhD candidates (inc. working with those PhD candidates to design the course). An unprecedented number (433) of you came back to tell us how we can make this process more accessible and we've taken some time to review this process thoroughly - here's the main things we heard and what we're doing:

  • 12,3% of you told us the financing rules were too complicated and 12% of you found the application form too complex.
    -> We’re designing a single, simplified set of integrated funding rules to replace the separate ones for each Doctoral School. We’re also cutting down the length of the application form.
  • 25,8% of you told us you wanted more support on how to put together an application.
    -> We'll be publishing anonymised successful applications as best practice examples and, of course, we're always around on doctoralschools@ugent.be to help you with any questions on the application process.
  • Many of you took the time to type up some additional comments on how you wanted more agency over the application process or didn’t know whether your supervisor would want to organise a course.
    -> We’re changing our messaging around this to empower PhD candidates to submit applications themselves for courses they’d like to organise (simply requiring support from a senior researcher).

We hope these changes will encourage more PhD candidates to use this process to gain vital experience in grant writing and project management and organisation as well as design courses around their specific research topics.

Pulse surveys January/April 2021 – Course offering and COVID

On the overall quality of the transferable skills course offering in the Doctoral Training Programme and the lessons learned from online vs. on campus courses in times of COVID, we received 45 responses in total. Here’s some of what you told us and what we’re doing:


  • 46% of participants said they preferred on campus courses to online courses, the rest being split between hybrid or full online courses. While some of you pointed to the lack of travel to classrooms and more innovative teaching (screen sharing, breakout rooms) as clear benefits of digitalizing our course offering, many also lamented the lack of networking opportunities and the absence of face-to-face contact for certain assignments (e.g. presentation skills). We’ll be reviewing whether we can provide a mix of online and on campus versions of courses to cater to people’s preferences.
  • 75% of participants told us that our transferable skills courses cover topics that are relevant to their work and development as researchers and felt the courses were of a high quality. Together with individual course evaluations, we’ve taken this as a clear message to continue working with current partners for key courses in the coming academic years.
  • 50% of participants felt the transferable skills offering was tailored towards skills they would also need to further their career outside of academia. We’ll be launching our PhD career hub later this year to offer tailored support to young researchers, from coaching sessions to CV analysis training.

Pulse survey December 2020 – Wellbeing actions taken

On wellbeing, we received 46 responses. Here’s some of what you told us in December and what we’re doing:

  • 58% of participants told us that COVID measures were having a negative impact on their work-life balance. We’ll be expanding our course offering on wellbeing and personal effectiveness.
  • 63% felt unable to attain research goals set before the pandemic, citing working from home and the lack of contact with colleagues as key drivers. We’ll be offering more writer development/peer network courses this year to help people find ways of engaging their peers and boosting their productivity.
  • Some of you are concerned about whether COVID measures are being respected in the workplace and flagged wider wellbeing concerns exacerbated by the isolation caused by consistently working from home. We’ve set up this wellbeing website to help you find support. Do speak to colleagues at Trustpunt@ugent.be if you need a listening ear. We’ll be drawing more data from their work into our central decision-making in future. For any specific concerns around COVID measures and how they are being implemented/followed, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with veiligheid@ugent.be or actueel@ugent.be.
  • Many of you were also worried and frustrated about (the lack of) decisions around funding arrangements and research commitments in light of COVID. While UGent can’t act on behalf of funding bodies, we recommend you get in touch using the information on this website.

Pulse surveys are intended to gauge indicative stakeholder concerns as they relate to Doctoral Schools matters only. They are not intended as comprehensive overviews of the topics being queried.