Qualifications rated over quality in course guides

March 11, 2010

More "consumer" information about courses is a key higher education policy for both the Conservative and Labour parties, but it may be less of a priority for students themselves.

According to the results of the Sodexo-Times Higher Education University Lifestyle Survey 2010, which polled almost 2,000 students, more than half of undergraduates (56 per cent) were satisfied with the amount of information available when they chose their course.

However, more than four in ten would have liked more details, and 56 per cent of international students from outside Europe said they would have preferred more information.

Respondents were asked to indicate where more information would have been most helpful by rating a series of areas highlighted by the government in its framework document for the future of higher education, Higher Ambitions.

The document, published last autumn, called for universities to publish standard information "setting out what students can expect in terms of the nature and quality of their programme" in what was billed as a "food labelling" style system.

In the survey, students expressed the most interest in receiving more information about what a course would qualify them to do (47 per cent ranked this in the top three).

Next came the views of past students of the course (43 per cent) and the number of contact hours with academic staff (42 per cent).

Fewer students rated information from the Quality Assurance Agency as important (20 per cent). In addition, relatively few wanted to know whether their course provided access to external experts (21 per cent), or wanted more information about learning facilities (18 per cent).

Ministers want more UK students to study abroad, but this was one of the areas of least interest: 17 per cent of students rated details of whether a course offers opportunities for overseas study as a priority.

Students were least likely to want details of e-learning methods used on the course (14 per cent rated this in the top three).

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com

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