Staff Experience Survey FAQ


What is the University of Oxford Staff Experience Survey? 

A single, institution-wide survey being administered at departmental level. Every member of University staff will be invited to complete the same set of questions, though departments may add extra questions to gather more information about their local context. The results will be processed centrally by a Survey Analyst in the Equality and Diversity Unit and limited, anonymised data will be fed back to individual departments to support their own work on equality and diversity. Divisional and institutional level analysis will be carried out by the Survey Analyst during summer 2018.

Why are you running a staff experience survey? 

We want to know about the experiences of individual members of staff so that we can identify areas where the University and departments might need to make changes in order to ensure the best possible experience for everyone. This will also help us benchmark our progress towards national equality charter marks, including Athena SWAN, the Race Equality Charter Mark and the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, as well as the HR Excellence in Research Award.

Reasons for running a single staff survey every two years include:

  • Reducing survey fatigue amongst staff, who might otherwise be questioned four or five times on similar topics
  • Reducing duplication and alleviating departments of the burden of running multiple surveys
  • Gathering a large amount of data on which to base more reliable conclusions
  • Highlighting potential disparities in institutional and departmental experience for follow up action
  • Providing a longitudinal view so we can evaluate the effectiveness of interventions
  • Enabling departments to benchmark their own results against those of the institution and the division
  • Providing essential information to support applications for institutional and departmental charter marks and to benchmark progress towards objectives

How often does the survey run? 

Once every two years, though some departments may wish to run it annually. In these cases their results will only be included in the institutional aggregate every other year.

This survey replaces many other surveys that used to be run by departments, divisions and the central University (e.g. Careers in Research Online Survey; Athena SWAN departmental surveys; C Change survey), and so should significantly reduce the number of times you are asked to fill in a survey.

Are college staff eligible to complete the survey? 

No. The survey is for those employed wholly or jointly by the University of Oxford. However, should a college wish to run the survey independently they are welcome to do so (please contact survey

Who is administering the survey?

The survey is being administered by the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit (EDU). Access to the password-protected account from which the surveys are administered is restricted to the Survey Administrator in the EDU, Sara Smith, and one coordinator in each division. A Survey Analyst will be appointed by the EDU to produce departmental and institutional reports. No one else will have access to the survey account.


Sara Smith

Equality and Diversity Unit

Daisy Hung

MPLS Division

Katherine Corr

Medical Sciences Division

Fiona Groenhout

Social Sciences Division

Isabelle Pitt

Humanities Division


Where will the data be stored?

The survey is run using Bristol Online Surveys (BOS), part of Jisc and all data is stored on secure servers located in the Republic of Ireland. See:

Who will have access to the Bristol Online Surveys (BOS) account?  

Access is limited to the Survey Administrator, Survey Analyst and one coordinator in each division. The account is password protected and no one else will be granted access.

At BOS, access to sensitive data is strictly limited to BOS’s support and technical teams. This access is only permitted when it is at the request of the client concerned or necessary for the investigation of operational issues (or when required by law).  The BOS servers and backups are accessible only by members of the BOS technical team and other authorised members of staff at Jisc (such as systems administrators or those responsible for maintaining the backup service).

Does the survey use a secure connection?

All survey responses are collected over encrypted SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connections. SSL is the standard technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. It ensures that sensitive information can be transmitted securely. All communications within are also sent over SSL encrypted connections.

Will my department be able to work out who I am based on my responses?

No. All responses to the survey are anonymous and no raw data will be shared with your department. The Survey Analyst in the EDU will group individual responses into broader categories and remove any identifying details from free text comments before generating a report for each department.

Can you trace my response back to my computer? 

No. BOS does not use cookies for survey completion and external tracking software such as Google Analytics is not supported on BOS surveys. Survey Administrators also cannot access any information about respondents’ IP addresses.

How will you use the free text? 

Your comments can reveal more about your experience than a simple survey scale, so please take the opportunity to share your thoughts and make suggestions. Any potentially identifying details will be redacted before the text is shared with departments. At divisional and institutional level, free text comments will be coded by theme and may be quoted in reporting. However, these will be anonymised and attributed only at the highest level, e.g. Female, Asian, Medical Sciences Division.

Who will see the raw data? 

Only the Survey Administrator, Survey Analyst and divisional coordinators will have access to the anonymous raw data. The Survey Analyst will group all responses into three broad categories – Academic, Researcher and Professional/Administrative/Support – to ensure individuals’ anonymity in departmental reporting. Departments will be provided with their results grouped by broad job role and gender to support their work on gender equality under Athena SWAN. Where respondent numbers are low, the results may be further aggregated to ensure anonymity. The analyst will also remove any potentially identifying details from the free text comments before sharing these with the department.


Why are you asking for so much demographic data? 

We ask you to provide us with some key items of personal information, reflecting the characteristics protected under equality law. These include questions about your ethnicity, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation. We understand that these are very personal questions for most people and that you may have concerns about confidentiality. Please be assured that all survey responses are anonymous and no raw data will be shared with your department. Reporting on these demographic characteristics will be at divisional and institutional level only. The reports prepared for departments will include aggregated data about your employment and gender only.

While all questions in the survey are optional, we hope that you will feel able to provide us with demographic information so that we can:

Do I have to complete all of the questions?

No. All of the questions are optional, so if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about giving an answer the system will allow you to move on to the next question.


Can I have a paper-based version of the survey?

Yes. Please email  to find out if your department is administering paper surveys, and to request to be sent one if not; or to request a batch of paper versions if you are responsible for running your departmental survey.

Do all respondents answer the same questions? 

All departments are using the same fixed question set, but some are including additional questions specific to their local context, so some people may be asked to complete more questions than others.

What's the difference between the survey I was sent by my department and the University of Oxford survey?

Each department is sending out a single University of Oxford Staff Experience Survey with a fixed question set, though some are including additional questions specific to their local context. If you hold a shared (cross-departmental) contract or more than one post, you will receive separate surveys relating to each of your departments at different times. In this case you are welcome to complete more than one survey, but are not obliged to do so.

My responses

I've already filled in the survey - why am I being sent reminders?

As all responses are anonymous, we cannot identify whether or not you have already completed the survey. We want to get the highest number of returns possible so that a range of people's voices are heard and the results are statistically reliable, so please bear with us if you have already filled it in. Please do not complete the survey more than once.

What if I am employed by more than one department?

If you hold a shared (cross-departmental) contract or more than one post, you will receive separate surveys relating to each of your departments at different times. You are welcome to complete more than one survey, but are not obliged to do so.

Why haven't I received an invitation to complete the survey?  

Each department decides when to run its own survey, and the majority of surveys are scheduled for Hilary and Trinity terms 2018. If you are aware of colleagues in your department having already received an invitation to complete the survey, please check with your Departmental Administrator or contact the Survey Administrator at:

If you are not employed by the University – for example of you are a member of college-only staff – then you are not eligible to complete the survey.

When is my department running the survey?

Please ask your Departmental Administrator or email


What will you do with the results?

Each department will receive a report summarising their anonymised survey results. They will use this feedback to inform local priorities and objectives, particularly around Athena SWAN. Aggregated results will be analysed at the divisional and institutional levels to inform wider strategic and equality objectives, long-term planning, evaluation of initiatives and work on various equality initiatives and charters, including:

Will this survey result in major policy changes?

Not immediately. The survey will provide us with an invaluable starting point to identify areas where we need to look more closely. We can then follow these up with more detailed analysis and qualitative research, e.g. focus groups. If the collected evidence indicates a need for policy change, we will feed that into institutional discussions around the University’s strategic objectives and action planning for our equality initiatives and charters.

Repeating the survey every two years will enable us to track our long-term progress by comparing outcomes over time.