Student accommodation satisfaction ‘falling’, figures suggest

Despite students reporting increasing levels of satisfaction with UK higher education, one area is bucking the trend: university accommodation.

May 2, 2015

Source: Getty/iStock

According to 20,000 student university ratings, overall satisfaction is at an all-time high, increasing from an average of 3.98 to 4.15 out of five between 2014 and 2015. The results chime with the findings of the annual National Student Survey, which has consistently reported increasing satisfaction among students.

However, according to university rating site WhatUni, which gathered the ratings, the one area in which students are showing increasing levels of dissatisfaction is the quality of university accommodation.

Speaking at a conference ahead of the WhatUni Student Choice Awards on 23 April, University College London president and provost Michael Arthur said accommodation in London was “a complete nightmare”.

“[We are] about 20,000 [accommodation] places short for London’s universities, and there is not so much input from private providers,” he said. “Land is extremely expensive and expectations are set very high.”

He said one of the reasons for falling levels of satisfaction was that although universities had invested in impressive new accommodation, they were guilty of advertising these new premises prominently without making it clear that not all accommodation was up to that standard. “Of course, when you get [to university] ,there isn’t very much [new accommodation], and therefore your expectations are rather dashed.”

Natalie Mortimer, deputy director of marketing at the University of Nottingham, said that she was not surprised that satisfaction levels had fallen with regard to university accommodation.

“I think it’s acknowledged within the sector maybe that we aren’t moving as quickly as we should be on the accommodation issue,” she said.

“At Nottingham, our accommodation is very good, but where we could do better is responding in terms of where the demand is. For example, all of our accommodation on our campus in Nottingham is catered accommodation, which offers a great experience, but actually we’re seeing a higher demand for self-catering, which we do have but it’s not on campus. There are a lot of  requests coming through from prospective students saying we want self-catering and we want it on campus.”

This, she said, would involve a “huge infrastructure investment” and would take longer than 12 months to turn around. “We are doing a significant review of our entire accommodation package…and I am aware of other higher education institutions going through that process,” she added.

chris.parr@tesglobal.com

WhatUni Student Choice Awards 2015: the winners

The results of the awards were based on reviews by 20,000 university students across the UK. Of the 113 universities which met the minimum threshold of 100 verified student reviews, 39 universities were shortlisted across ten categories. The categories, and the winning institution, are listed below.

University of the Year

Loughborough University

Student Support

Harper Adams University

Job Prospects

University of Nottingham

Student Union

Loughborough University

Clubs and Societies

Bangor University

City Life

University of Bristol

University Facilities

University of Surrey

Accommodation

Loughborough University

Courses and Lecturers

New College of the Humanities

International

University of Exeter

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