The vast majority of undergraduates are satisfied with their quality of life at university, the latest Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey reveals.
Of those questioned, 85% said they were ‘generally satisfied’ with their quality of life as a student, with 30% ‘very satisfied’.
The satisfaction scores were part of Sodexo’s first Quality of Life Index within the overall survey, which the leading services provider has conducted since 2004. Sodexo, a provider of catering, accommodation and facilities management services to the higher education sector for nearly 50 years, asked 2,000 students to assess the wide range of services provided by their university.
“We focus on improving student experience through integrated services that promote quality of life, whilst delivering our clients improved financial performance,” said Sodexo Universities’ strategic development director, Peter Taylor. “The survey is an invaluable tool that provides us with a comprehensive overview of university life for undergraduates. It gives us the data required to adjust and improve our service offers and provide strategic partnership to our university clients.”
The spectre of debt still looms large for students. Two-thirds (66%) say they will leave university with debts of £20,000 or more, double the rate (30%) who said this four years earlier, and 29% expect to leave university with over £40,000 of debt, up from just 2% in 2012 prior to the introduction of higher fees.
In light of the greater financial burden on students, the survey reveals some interesting lifestyle trends that dispel typical stereotypes of students. More than a third (36%) of students report they don’t drink alcohol, up from 26% in 2012, whilst 28% say they don’t spend anything on socialising. Instead, there is a strong café culture at universities – over half of students (53%) spend up to £20 a week on tea and coffee from university cafés.
This research shows that while university life hasn’t changed fundamentally, millennial students are living more interconnected lives, moving seamlessly between online and offline, and their academic and their social lives
The survey also uncovers some interesting findings about study habits. The vast majority of students now use more online study resources than offline – 55% favoured online resources against 23% who preferred traditional books, papers and journals. The area in which students most wanted to see investment on campus was the library, with 26% wanting to see investment there, up from 19% who cited this in 2014.
Professor Jane Longmore, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Southampton Solent University, co-author and validator of the survey, noted: “This research shows that while university life hasn’t changed fundamentally, millennial students are living more interconnected lives, moving seamlessly between online and offline, and their academic and their social lives.
The survey suggests that increasingly the library is the major social learning space in the institution; student sociability has moved into the academic heart of the university and students are making greater use of social learning spaces and campus coffee bars.”
Finally, the growth in private student accommodation and the rise in rents means students are now becoming more demanding about their accommodation. When asked to select the five most important requirements for accommodation, 36% of students in university halls listed the existence of their own bathroom as their number one priority, ahead of high-speed WiFi (26%) and having a place to study (18%).
Taylor concluded: “With increased financial pressure on students, it is vital that universities and service providers like Sodexo work together on creative solutions to improve students’ quality of life and to offer a university experience that students truly value.”
For the full report, infographic and video please visit www.sodexo.co.uk/uls.