Sense of satisfaction

July 8, 2010

I would be interested to see the evidence to suggest that there has been no improvement in the student experience for undergraduates over the past decade (Letters, 1 July). Underfunded expansion of undergraduate numbers in the 1980s and 1990s in England meant that the unit of funding per student fell by 40 per cent. This expansion led to inevitable problems such as a worsening student-to-staff ratio. This trend was arrested and reversed to an extent in the early 2000s, but is on the move again.

I believe Universities UK has shown the direct link between increased investment in higher education and improvements in the student experience. Our report Making it Count, published earlier this year, sets out how universities in England have used the additional funds on offer after the introduction of variable fees. Far from showing that the student-to-staff ratio has worsened since then, evidence suggests that there has been an improvement - although marginal - in the median ratio from 17.6 in 2004-05 to 17.4 in 2008-09. And what do the students themselves say? National Student Survey satisfaction rates have improved gradually since 2005, and are now at 81 per cent.

The quality of the student experience remains at the centre of our approach, which is why we will continue to campaign to ensure that our system is adequately funded.

Steve Smith, President, Universities UK.

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