Tales of old staff and stale beer fall flat

October 14, 2005

Student feedback may be all the rage in this consumer-focused era but such strategies are not without risks, especially if they produce responses such as one undergraduate's call to "sack all lecturers over 55", writes Phil Baty.

Nottingham Trent University was among the pioneers of student satisfaction surveys. But it may well be regretting asking students in its School of the Built Environment what they made of their university experience.

The survey gives an insight into students' priorities, including complaints about cold rooms, a "dirty" union building and the "quality of pints" at the union bar.

Among the less-than-constructive statements, one student said: "The union is a cheesefest. Please understand that not everyone enjoys dancing to hardcore dance music - I have to be completely arseholed to enjoy that place."

Other students questioned the worth of going to university. One asked: "Why am I wasting my time sitting like a prick on the A52 and attending university... to be told it's all in the books?"

Nottingham Trent is restructuring its provision, including closing courses and several students expressed concern. One complained that his course, electronic engineering, "is being discontinued and the department run down". Another pleaded for the university not to scrap "core subjects to make room for the latest fad".

A spokeswoman for the university said the internal survey found that 66 per cent of students were satisfied and 5 per cent were not. She said the feedback had already been used to help make improvements.

"Feedback not only confirms areas of good practice but it also identifies opportunities for improvement. This is vital as we continue to provide and enhance an environment committed to student support and learning."

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