According to a recent poll of over 220,000 graduating university students in England, there was a decline in satisfaction with the quality of their degree courses this year compared with last year. The National Student Survey found that almost one-fifth of final-year students (19%) were dissatisfied or ambivalent towards their courses, up from 18% last year. The National Union of Students blamed the rise on the increase in tuition fees to £3,000 per year when students began this year’s survey, compared with up to £1,255 per year the previous year. However, vice-chancellors were pleased that this year’s final year students were still highly satisfied with their courses, given that they face the highest levels of graduate unemployment in generations. More than a third (35%) of respondents were dissatisfied or ambivalent about the feedback and marking process from their tutors, though this represents an improvement on last year’s survey when 36% of students voiced dissatisfaction. More than a quarter of students (28%) were not satisfied with the organisation of their courses and the planning of their timetables. The students were also less happy with the quality of their university and college libraries, with 20% expressing dissatisfaction or ambivalence compared with 19% last year. Students studying medical courses displayed the highest level of overall satisfaction with Medway School of Pharmacy and Brighton and Sussex Medical School being awarded overall satisfaction levels of 97% and 95% respectively. Students at drama schools and on arts courses expressed the least satisfaction levels. The University of the Arts London had the highest rate of dissatisfied students (19%) whilst the University for the Creative Arts was also regarded poorly with 21% of students displaying dissatisfaction. Among the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities, the overall satisfaction rate of their students fell to 85% compared with 86% last year.
Prioritizing a superior student experience is imperative for universities. To confront the major challenges regarding standards, widening access, and the student experience, a comprehensive review of the tuition fee structure must be conducted as soon as possible. Avoiding the issue cannot be a viable solution for ministers any longer.
In a recent Ipsos Mori survey, more than 223,363 students from universities in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, as well as further education colleges in England, participated. This reflects an increase of over 3,000 students from last year. An impressive three-fifths of all final year students in higher education courses in colleges or universities across the UK took part in the survey.