Just third of students agree university is value for money

The survey is the second in 2021 to suggest that a minority of undergraduates think the university experience represents good value for money

Fewer than a third of undergraduates in England feel their university course represents value for money, suggests a survey by the Office for Students (OfS).

survey by the higher education regulator in England that spoke to 614 undergraduates found that 32.9% consider university good value for money.

The percentage that considers higher education good value for money has fallen from 37.5% in 2020.

This drop is not, the OfS said, statistically significant –  but it does follow surveys from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that indicate worsening mental health within the student population and several high-profile petitions calling for tuition fee refunds.

The value-for-money survey is conducted annually, with responses this year recorded between February and March 2021: a period that followed a winter wave of coronavirus infections and an England-wide lockdown announced on 4 January. At the time, teaching was, for the most part, online.

The OfS was at pains to state that the size of the survey sample – and randomised, unweighted selection of current undergraduates – meant that findings were not conclusive or representative of the student body as a whole. 

The OfS-commissioned survey also spoke to 585 applicants, 288 graduates and 317 current postgraduates for their views: 43.8% of applicants, 36.1% of graduates, and 41.6% of current postgraduates said they thought HE good value for money. 

The survey is not the only one in the sector to ask students’ views on value for money. The Advance HE and Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) Student Academic Experience Survey (SAES) found that 27% of respondents rated HE good or very good value for money – a 12% drop on the previous year. The number of positive responses is half what it was in 2012, according to SAES, when 53% of students rated their experience positively.

Read more: Two-thirds of students give uni online learning positive review, Jisc survey suggests

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