UK Student Satisfaction Falls Again in National Student Survey | Top Universities

UK Student Satisfaction Falls Again in National Student Survey

By Sabrina Collier

Updated June 7, 2019 Updated June 7, 2019

The results of the UK’s National Student Survey (NSS) are out now, and show that 83 percent of students in the UK are satisfied overall with their course, a drop of one percent on the 2017 survey. While this is nonetheless high, it represents another year of falling satisfaction levels, which was previously at 86 percent in 2016.

The figure is slightly higher in Wales compared to the rest of the UK, with 86 percent of students at Welsh universities satisfied with their course overall. However, it’s a Scottish university which takes the top spot- the University of St Andrews, where 94 percent of students are happy with their courses.

The survey collected responses from over 320,000 final-year undergraduate students, therefore representing the views of 70 percent of the eligible student population across more than 400 UK universities and colleges.

Students are asked 27 questions relating to their university experience, which are grouped into sections such as ‘learning opportunities’, ‘assessment and feedback’ and ‘academic support’. Commenting on the results, Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the Office for Students, said:

“While we have seen overall satisfaction fall by one percent, many questions have maintained their satisfaction levels including the student voice, academic support, learning resources and assessment and feedback questions.”

Although the overall satisfaction rate remains high, Dandridge considers that more needs to be done “to ensure all students have a high quality and fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.”

Oxbridge still missing

Notably, Oxford and Cambridge were both missing from the survey following successful boycotts which meant that neither institution met the necessary 50 percent response rate needed for inclusion. They had also been missing last year.

Students decided to boycott the survey following fears that the government may allow universities with higher satisfaction scores to implement higher tuition fees to reflect the high quality of education available. However, in September 2017 the government announced that domestic/EU tuition fees will be frozen at £9,250 until 2019, rather than increasing with inflation, meaning that the National Student Survey will not be used as a justification for increasing fees, for the time being at least.

Below are the 12 UK universities with the highest scores in this year’s National Student Survey.

Top 12 UK universities for student satisfaction, according to the NSS

Rank

Name of Institution

Overall course satisfaction percentage

1

University of St Andrews

94

=2

University of Buckingham

91

=2

Conservatoire for Dance and Drama

91

=2

The London Institute of Banking & Finance

91

=4

Keele University

90

=4

Royal Veterinary College

90

=4

Aberystwyth University

90

=7

Harper Adams University

89

=7

University of Lincoln

89

=7

Royal College of Music

89

=7

University of the West of England

89

=7

Swansea University

89

Students in London less satisfied overall

The results of the National Student Survey have been disappointing for some London-based UK universities, with only 71 and 72 percent of students fully satisfied with their course at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of the Arts London (UAL) respectively.

Other top universities in the capital with slightly lower scores than the national average included King’s College London, University College London, Queen Mary University and Goldsmiths. The lower scores of London universities has been attributed to the much higher cost of living in the UK capital, as well as issues with accommodation and transport. However, London was named the number one city for students in the recent QS Best Student Cities 2018, despite having one of the lowest scores for affordability in the index.

Minouche Shafik, director of LSE, told The Guardian: “We have introduced significant reforms across campus but we know it will take time before these changes are reflected.

“Improving student satisfaction is our top priority. We are changing our assessment process, improving academic support and feedback, and developing student services on campus. We will keep listening and keep acting.”

The full results of the National Student Survey will be published on Unistats on August 30.

This article was originally published in August 2018 . It was last updated in June 2019

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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