Laurie Taylor Column

February 20, 2004

Universities in the pilot [of the national student satisfaction survey] were given discretion to remove problem students - The Times Higher , February 13.

Some good news at last.

What's that?

I've just been checking the results of the first national student satisfaction survey. Apparently, they're all very happy.

That's great news.

It certainly impressed the minister for higher education, Alan Johnson. He said it was a very valuable exercise.

A big survey?

Very big. It started off with 47,974 students drawn from a total of 23 institutions.

Sounds extremely thorough.

Mind you, it didn't quite finish with that number.

How d'you mean?

In the end, they decided that 4,000 of the students in the original sample had to be excluded.

Excluded?

That's right. Some turned out to be only short-course students, and there were lots of others who had to be discarded for what they called "various reasons".

"Various reasons"? What sort of reasons?

Students who'd changed their course or transferred from one institution to another or repeated a year.

Obviously not suitable. Anyone else excluded?

Only those who were in some sort of dispute with their university or who had failed a course.

Who'd want their views?

Exactly.

So, all in all, one could say with some confidence that nearly every one of those students who'd had a satisfactory time at university tended to find their time at university "satisfactory".

You could put it like that.

Thank God for social surveys.

Exactly.

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