Satisfaction levels rise, but sector warns that improvements cost money

August 18, 2010

Satisfaction levels among students in England have risen slightly this year, according to the results of the National Student Survey.

The findings, published today, show that overall satisfaction has risen from 81 per cent in 2009 to 82 per cent in 2010.

Nationally, the highest ratings go to university teaching, which once again achieved a score of 83 per cent satisfaction.

The institution whose students express the greatest degree of satisfaction is the private University of Buckingham, where 95 per cent of respondents say they are happy with their degree course.

Terence Kealey, its vice-chancellor, said the institution scored well “because we put the student first, second and third”.

At the other end of the scale is the University of the Arts London, where 62 per cent of survey respondents say they are satisfied.

Nigel Carrington, its rector, said improving the student experience was the institution’s “number one priority” and that “major changes” had already been made.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said the 82 per cent satisfaction rate nationally was “impressive”, especially given the “much higher expectations” of students now that they pay variable fees.

She added: “Clearly there is more to be done and student feedback has a vital role to play. The NSS is used by all universities to see where improvements need to be made to address the concerns of students. But of course all of this costs money. We have lower levels of investment in higher education than our international competitors, and £400 million cut from planned government funding to universities in 2010-11.

“With the upcoming Browne review [of university fees and funding] and the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn, it is essential that we ensure a sustainable funding structure for universities in the future. Only then will we be able to maintain and improve on these levels of satisfaction.”

john.gill@tsleducation.com

• For full analysis, see Times Higher Education on 19 August.

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