Life satisfaction decreases among certain student groups, research suggests

Students' experience of university life varies according to their economic and minority status, a survey has found

October 16 2017

Certain communities of students are less likely to report being satisfied with their university experience, according to a new report.

More than 6,500 students took part in an online survey conducted by Unite Students and YouthSight to discover how students felt about university life. 

A number of groups were identified in order to track the differences between certain demographics. These included students with disabilities, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students, students who were the first in their family to go to university, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and students who are living at home while at university.   

The report found that all of the above groups reported lower levels of satisfaction than non-minority students. 

Nearly three-quarters of students (74 per cent) were satisfied with their life at university, but this dropped when looking at the satisfaction rates among minority groups.

In comparison, 65 per cent of LGB students, 61 per cent of disabled students, 68 per cent of BAME students and 54 per cent of students with a mental-health condition reported feeling satisfied with their university life. 

Life satisfaction fell to 49 per cent if students identified themselves as part of three or more of these groups. 


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Students were also asked how their living arrangements affected their well-being. Many placed a higher importance on who they lived with, rather than where they lived.

However, students with a disability were less likely to feel integrated in the community they shared with, with 59 per cent of students with a disability feeling happy with their housemate relationships, compared with 65 per cent of students with no disability. 

When asked about their financial situation, three-quarters of all students felt that they were doing a good job of managing their money. But looking into these results further, it was found that students who were the first in their family to go to university were more likely to face financial difficulties and were less likely to seek help from parents. 

Almost four in 10 of the respondents had considered dropping out of university, giving financial and academic pressure, loneliness and stress as some of the reasons for wanting to leave. 

Specific groups, such as LGB students, students with a disability and students with a mental-health condition, were more likely to consider dropping out and were more likely to do so.

Students were also asked how they felt about life after university. Almost half were concerned about the potential negative impact of Brexit on employment. 

Read more: What do student mental health services look like around the world?

 

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