Fresher Fears: Present Pal Survey Results


During Freshers Week 2018, the Present Pal team conducted a research survey with students at the University of Glasgow Freshers Fair 2018- and with the chance of winning a Paesano voucher, who could say no?!

Present Pal is now being used by students all over the UK in universities such as Oxford and Edinburgh through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). As a team of recent graduates, we’re really keen to keep up with what the biggest challenges of being a student are, and what kind of support/adjustments students are being offered to tackle these pressures.

This blog will cover the main findings from our research, concluding that public speaking fears are highly present in academia and that there is a need to spread more awareness of student support - especially with regards to Disabled Students Allowance eligibility. We’re really intrigued about what we found, and we’d love to give you a peek into our discoveries...


We surveyed students that were freshers, undergraduates year 2-4, postgraduate and recent graduates from all gender orientations and ages. Students also disclosed whether they had at least one Specific Learning Difference (on the condition that they were comfortable with doing so- this was not compulsory). Altogether, 176 students took part in the survey and 11% of these students disclosed that they had at least one SpLD. This arguably provides a representative sample since roughly 1 in 10 people are diagnosed with some form of SpLD.



Students were given a list of  10 common challenges including financial problems and meeting deadlines and were asked which 3 were/will be their biggest challenges.  ‘Delivering oral presentations’ was listed as the 4th biggest challenge for students. This result indicates that public speaking anxiety is prevalent within higher education.  


In order to find out more about the fear of presentations, we asked “How nervous do you feel about presenting a new topic in front of a room full of your peers?”. 27% of participants said that they feel “very nervous”, and 54% said that they feel “slightly nervous” - an overall 81% of participants agreeing that they feel nervous about presenting to their classmates.  

Next, we asked if presenting had ever induced feelings of anxiety, panic or stress. 82% of students said that yes, they had experienced these feelings when speaking publicly. This finding suggests that presentations are nerve-wracking for a large majority of higher education students.

After establishing that presentation anxiety is a real phobia for a large portion of students, we asked participants whether an App to help with presentation delivery would be helpful. 81% of students agreed that ‘yes’, it would be helpful and 14% said it ‘maybe’ would be. This finding hence displays a need for a presentation support App i.e. Present Pal!

Participants were then shown an infographic which gave an overview of Present Pal’s key features. Students ranked their favourite 3 features of Present Pal and the results were as follows…



Interestingly, when breaking down which Present Pal features were liked best, participants with SpLDs ranked their top feature as ‘Pop Up Bubbles’. This was great feedback for us, as the Pop Up Bubble feature was created out of our CEO Chris’ experience as a dyslexic student. Chris struggled with presentations at uni and found comfort in the safety net of Pop Up Bubbles, so it was fantastic to hear that other SpLD students feel the same.

Only half of the students with SpLDs said that they claim DSA, which is concerning considering if the individual has a letter of medical evidence for their SpLD, they are eligible to claim the grant. When asked the reasons why they weren’t claiming DSA, a variety of explanations were given, with the most common being “I don’t know whether I am eligible or not”.  


The main reasonable adjustment made for SpLD students was extra time during exams and leignancy when marking spelling errors, however there were no mentions of assistive software. This is concerning considering there is a wide array of assistive tech available to support students such as Global Autocorrect, Medincle and of course, Present Pal! All of these softwares are available for students through DSA and therefore these findings display that more needs to be in done in terms of ensuring that students who are eligible for DSA are signing up and receiving assistive softwares that could ultimately enhance their education experience.


  • Presentations are the 4th biggest challenge for students

  • 82% of students feel anxious, panicked or stressed about presenting

  • 81% would find a presentation support App helpful

  • Students with SpLDs ranked Pop Up Bubbles as their favourite Present Pal feature

  • Only half of SpLD students claim DSA and the common reason why the other half do not is because they do not know whether they are eligible for the grant

The Present Pal team would like to thank everyone who took part in our research survey and to congratulate our lucky winner who received a £50 Paesano gift card!

Chris handing the gift card to our lucky competition winner!

Chris handing the gift card to our lucky competition winner!