The UK’s Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the consumer organisation Which? has published the 2013 survey of the student academic experience at English universities.
The first survey, in 2006, coincided with the introduction of HE fees and the surveys aim to discover whether students are getting a ‘better’ academic experience in the light of increased fees. The report concludes that there is “no apparent relationship between the fees students are being charged and what they receive”.
- Although students are paying more, universities themselves are not receiving additional money – student fees are simply filling the gap left by reduced centralised government funding.
- Student fees trebled in 2012. The average fee charged is now £8500+
- Contact with academic staff has hardly increased, despite higher fees
- Diverse student experience in terms of teaching format and contact hours and the perceived gap in helpful upfront information to help students choose the appropriate course
Key findings – choosing the right university
- 32% of students might have chosen a different course if they had known what they know now
- 21% of students thought information provided by their institutions was ‘vague’; 9% thought it was ‘misleading’
- 29% of first year students think their course is ‘poor value for money’
- The average weekly workload is 30 hours per week
- Women and mature students study more than men
- 14% of the 10,000 students who said their course was worse than they expected said the course had not been challenging enough
- No significant change in the amount of contact time or proportion of small group teaching
- Students paying less than £8000 received same amount of contact time as those paying more
- Other factors important to students include their satisfaction with the quality of teaching as well as they amount of face-to-face time
- Significant differences in contact time between subject areas and institutions
- Students recognise the importance of small group teaching and the amount they receive contributes to their satisfaction levels
- Contact time has risen by just 20 minutes per week since 2006
The report is available for free download from the HEPI website.