The Student Academic Experience Survey, from the Higher Education Policy Unit and the Higher Education Academy, tracks the views of students about their time in higher education, based on a sample of about 14,000 current students. Levels of satisfaction with university “value for money” have now fallen for the fifth year in a row. Five years ago, 53% of students across the UK thought university was “good” or “very good” value – but this has now slumped to its lowest level of 35%.
Students from England, who have the highest tuition fees in the UK – rising to £9,250 in the autumn – had the lowest opinions of value for money. Perceptions of value for money have continued to fall, the number of students saying their university was “poor” or “very poor” value almost doubling since 2012. In England, only 32% of students thought their university represented good value. The report suggests that improving teaching quality is an important factor in whether students believe they are getting value for money.
The annual study also examines wellbeing and happiness – and this has fallen to only 14% of students saying they were satisfied with their lives.There are also negative outcomes for students’ sense of happiness and anxiety – with students having lower levels of wellbeing than young people not university. Young women and gay university students are particularly likely to feel unhappy.
The study also shows a wide variation in the number of teaching hours – with subjects such as history having an average of eight hours per week, while medicine had 19 hours plus many more working hours outside of the classroom. (BBC News)
When I first read this I thought, “too many people chasing too few dedicated and competent teachers/ lecturers/ professors owing to the huge expansion of higher education”. On second thoughts, there is another point of view: life is what you make it. If you really want to learn and you are dedicated to getting a good degree, then you will spend time reading round the subject and insisting on face time with the teachers. Proactivity, in other words. If, on the other hand, you are there on a jolly, for the sport and the booze, no doubt you will end up thinking it was all a giant waste of time. Is there an element of being spoiled, of having no work ethic, hidden away in this Student Academic Experience Survey? I would like a critique from a genuine student.
I was so concerned about failing at university that I worked like a dog, drank little, and avoided the playboys. Forty years later, at an event in the French Embassy in Washington DC my favourite tutor (European History), who was there promoting a book, looked at me and instantly remembered my name. Could it have been due to his belief that my time at university had been worthwhile?. Oh, and something else: it’s obvious that medicine, which is scientific and complicated needs more hands- on experience and instruction than history, which involves more reading and personal interpretation. The surveyor ignores the processes of learning.