Students value rankings more than ever

The importance of university academic rankings has doubled over the last 25 years, according to AUDE research

Nearly a third (30%) of current university students say the academic ranking of their university was a key factor in influencing their choice, compared to half the number of students who attended university 25 years ago (15%), New research from the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has found.

The university course came out on top as the number one reason for choosing an institution, (50% now vs 62% 25 years ago), with distance from home second (27% now vs 38% 25 years ago).

When it comes to overseas students, academic ranking has an even bigger influence, with a third stating it affected their choice (33%). With limited open day opportunities for international students, reputation plays a strong role, polling at second (29%), even more important than cost (18%) and the standard of technology (11%).

Given today’s financial pressures, it’s unsurprising the research also revealed present students say they would like more financial support. When asked what they would like to enhance the student experience, today’s students stated scholarship and grant opportunities (58%). Students from 25 years ago, in an age where maintenance grants were more frequent, opted for well-structured courses (59%).

The university estate is evolving and as directors of estates it is our job to make sure we meet the demands of current and future students. Improving 24-hour access and digital connectivity is clearly an area we should be focusing on

Mike Clark, AUDE’s Chair, and Director of Estate & Facilities Management at the University of Brighton said: “We commissioned this survey to help us better understand what it is students want from their university experience and how this has changed over the last two decades. The university estate is evolving and as directors of estates it is our job to make sure we meet the demands of current and future students. Improving 24-hour access and digital connectivity is clearly an area we should be focusing on.”

The library (55%) and accommodation (36%) are the most valued facilities by both generations, however today’s scholars place nearly the same amount of importance on 24-hour access to facilities (38% now vs 22% past). Digital connectivity is expanding, having improved by 14% over the last 25 years (73% of current students say they have good digital connectivity vs 59% from those 25 years ago).

In addition, the research found, when it comes to the look and feel of buildings, nearly half (45%) of students favour a mix of the old and new. Over a third (38%) favour the advanced technology in new buildings, but over half (50%) prefer the look of heritage buildings because of the beautiful architecture.