Two thirds of students in England don’t think they get value for money

The survey asked nearly 60,000 UK students for their views of higher education

One of the largest surveys of its kind has revealed that two thirds of students in England (66%) don’t think their university experience represents good value for money.

The five-year survey conducted by polling company YouthSight asked nearly 60,000 UK students in higher education their views on fees, teaching staff and value for money.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and Advance HE and covers the years since the coalition government increased tuition fees for students in England to more than £9,000.

Unlike the Office for Students’ National Student Survey (NSS) which surveys graduating students, the Hepi/Advance HE Student Academic Experience Survey is conducted each spring among full-time undergraduates in all years of study.

The report excludes the figures for UK students studying in a different part of the country – the figures for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland therefore only include local students.

According to the statistics, the majority of students in England (63%) were in support of government paying more or all of the costs of their tuition. In Scotland, slightly more respondents (71%) backed a solely or largely government-funded higher education system.

In related news: Augar: students ‘unconvinced’ by drop in tuition fees

The statistics suggest that students in Wales were, on average, far more satisfied with the teaching they received than their peers in the rest of the UK.

Six in 10 Welsh respondents said teaching staff motivated them to do their best work and seven in 10 said teaching staff were supportive. In seven of the eight questions which addressed teaching, Welsh students gave more positive responses than English, Scottish or Northern Irish students.

In England (52%) and Scotland (51%) of respondents said teaching staff motivated them.

Only 36% of students in England said teaching staff regularly initiate debates and discussions and only 33% said teaching staff had helped them explore their own area of interest. The comparative figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were in a similar range, suggesting students nationwide think their higher education experience lacked these two elements.

A greater proportion of students in Scotland study STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) subjects than in England. According to the survey, 51% of students in Scotland are in one of the STEMM disciplines, versus 44% of students south of the border.

As a greater proportion of students in England study arts, humanities and languages, it is perhaps no surprise that they have on average fewer scheduled contact hours a week than their peers in the rest of the UK. However, they are also least likely to say they are satisfied with the number of timetabled hours on their course.

Despite the mixed figures for English HE, 64% of students in England said they would make the same choice of course and university if they were to start the process again, versus 20% who said they would do something different.

The figures are included in a new report from Hepi entitled Does the UK still have a single higher education sector?

Read more: Coronavirus: UUK asks government for massive funds to support the sector


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