Redeveloped Bristol Online Survey gets major endorsement


[16 December 2014]

Following a major redevelopment, Bristol Online Surveys (BOS) is celebrating a significant endorsement from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

HESA announced their move to BOS for the UK's 2015/16 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. Completion of the DLHE survey has been a Higher Education Funding Council requirement for all UK HEIs for the last two decades and, with an 80% return rate target, it is something that institutions have to take very seriously - typically resulting in over 200,000 individual submissions from former students annually.

Originally developed in 2002 by ILRT / IT Services, BOS is an easy-to-use online service that allows non-technical users to develop, deploy, and analyse surveys via the Web. While BOS has over 750 admin users within the University of Bristol itself, the service is also licenced by 85% of UK universities and used annually for national benchmarking surveys such as the Higher Education Academy's Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) and Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) as well as Vitae's Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) and Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS). These national surveys exploit a popular feature of BOS that lets institutions each run the same core survey and then anonymously compare their results against those of other institutions in the wider benchmarking group or specific subgroups, such as the Russell Group and regional groups like GW4.

The redevelopment of BOS began in 2012 adding a host of new features requested by users, such as branching, respondent access control and support for mobile devices, while simultaneously taking advantage of new Web technologies and developments in "Big Data" databases. Since its completion in October 2014, the BOS team has been working to migrate around 24,000 existing users along with more than 120,000 surveys and a quarter of a billion submitted answers - a process which is expected to keep the BOS team busy right through until March 2015.