How have student requirements changed in the past 25 years?

Current UK university students are more likely to have explored academic rankings and expect 24-hour access to facilities compared with those who were students 25 years ago 

February 9 2018
Students in library

Current students are twice as likely to have looked at academic rankings during the process of selecting a university compared with those who were students 25 years ago, research from the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has found. 

A survey carried out in December 2017 collected responses from 502 current students and 500 adults who had attended university about 25 years ago to track changes in requirements over time. 

About 30 per cent of university students surveyed said that the academic ranking of a university was a key factor influencing their choice of institution, compared with 15 per cent of former students.

The academic ranking of an institution had a slightly bigger influence on current international students, with 33 per cent saying that it had affected their decision. Reputation was the second most important factor for international students (29 per cent), followed by cost (18 per cent) and the standard of technology (11 per cent).

The university course programme was the top reason for choosing an institution for both cohorts (50 per cent of current students, versus 62 per cent of former students), while distance from home was the second priority for those who were students 25 years ago (38 per cent, versus 27 per cent for current students).


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Current students also revealed that they would like more financial support to attend university, with nearly 60 per cent saying that more grant and scholarship opportunities would enhance their student experience. However, former students were more likely to have looked for well-structured courses (59 per cent).

While the library and student accommodation were the facilities most valued by both generations, current students placed a higher level of importance on 24-hour access to facilities compared with those who were students 25 years ago. Meanwhile, 73 per cent of current students said that they experienced good digital connectivity at university compared with 59 per cent of the older group. 

The research also revealed current students’ feelings about campus buildings, with 45 per cent favouring a mix of old and new structures. More than one-third preferred the advanced technology in new buildings, while 50 per cent preferred the look of heritage buildings. 

Read more: the 10 most beautiful universities in the UK 

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