Courses deliver, but feedback falls short

August 25, 2006

Eighty per cent of students are satisfied with their university experience, this year's National Student Survey shows.

Fifty per cent "mostly agreed" and 30 per cent "definitely agreed" that they were satisfied overall with the quality of their course.

But the survey, which rates courses on the verdicts of 157,000 final-year students from most UK institutions, reveals that feedback and assessment are not considered up to scratch.

Forty-nine per cent of students thought feedback was slow and unhelpful.

Almost a quarter said the criteria for marking assessments had not been made clear.

Teaching received the most praise, with 81 per cent of students declaring themselves satisfied. Library and IT resources also scored highly, with 79 per cent of students satisfied, 2 percentage points higher than last year.

Students were asked to rank their courses on a scale of one (the worst) to five (the best). Top of the table, according to The Times Higher' s scoring, is Buckingham University, the UK's only private higher education institution.

In the ratings for individual departments, the Law School at Leeds Metropolitan University scored lowest. King's College London's Law School came top. Respondents studying medicine and dentistry at Cardiff University were particularly critical when asked for feedback.

Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said: "I would hope and believe that institutions look long and hard at assessment and feedback, which are significantly lower than the overall satisfaction rate."

Next year, he suggested, students might be asked whether they believed their institution had provided value for money.

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