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Student satisfaction drops amid NSS boycott

HEFCE figures show decline in student satisfaction, with 84% of respondents happy with the quality of their education

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | August 15, 2017 | Events

New figures published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) show a decline in student satisfaction, with 84% of respondents happy with the quality of their education, down two per-cent from the previous year. Although satisfaction is still fairly high, it marks the first time in many years that satisfaction has dropped. The total number of respondents also fell by roughly 12,000 from 2016, despite more students being eligible to take part.

The falling numbers have been due to students from Britain’s top universities boycotting the annual National Student Survey (NSS) in protest against tuition fees and the newly implemented Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). In total, 12 universities failed to meet the required threshold, including Cambridge, Oxford, Sheffield and Manchester, where in order for results to be validated more than half of eligible students have to respond.

While overall student satisfaction remains high, we know there is significant variation in teaching quality and outcomes both within and between providers

National Union of Students Vice President for Higher Education, Amatey Doku, who helped organise the protest said: “The Government wanted to use today’s NSS results to allow universities which scored highly to raise fees from £9,000 to over £10,000 by 2020 as part of their draconian reforms to higher education.

“Our membership made it clear to us that they found this unacceptable and demanded we campaign to sever any link between their crude Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and a rise in tuition fees which would hit students hard.”

Universities Minister Jo Johnson has said that the newly established Office for Students will give more power to students giving them formal contracts with their universities, so they can protest over lack of teaching hours and inadequate facilities. Commenting on the NSS figures, Mr Johnson said "While overall student satisfaction remains high, we know there is significant variation in teaching quality and outcomes both within and between providers. There is more to do to ensure that students and taxpayers investing heavily in our higher education system secure value for money from it."

The Head of Higher Education and Student Experience at Jisc, Sarah Davies, will continue the debate around student satisfaction at the Higher Education Conference, this October 2017. You can see the other high calibre speakers by clicking here.

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