The first Graduate Opinion Survey (GOS) at the University was conducted in 1995, covering all graduates who completed their degrees in 1993. Annual Graduate Surveys have been carried out since 1998. Initially a quarter of the University's programme/degree combinations were surveyed, sampling students who graduated 18 to 24 months previously. From 2016 a census of all graduates has been completed. Since 2006 the survey has been offered online.
The GOS asks graduates to comment on their experiences at Otago, particularly in terms of their learning experiences. The core instrument of the Survey is the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), which was developed by Professor Paul Ramsden. Graduates are asked their level of agreement in a number of statements which research has shown to be indicative of better learning - for example "It was always easy to know the standard of work expected".
In addition to the CEQ, the GOS also features a section which provides opportunities for graduates who have studied at postgraduate level to comment on, and rate, their supervision experiences, and the level of support they received as postgraduates. A further section on course outcomes compares the development of 20 key attributes during University study with the application of these attributes following graduation. An example attribute is "written communication skills". Throughout the GOS, graduates also have a number of opportunities to make open-ended comments on their experiences.
The surveys provide information for a number of key University processes and documents, including the Departmental Review process, the annual Statement of Objectives and the Annual Report. The feedback collected is also presented to the relevant areas in a series of meetings held by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), the Director of the Quality Advancement Unit, and the Surveys Manager.