The results of the UK’s National Student Survey 2021 are in, offering insight into how Covid-19 has affected the university study experience.
About 330,000 students from hundreds of universities, colleges and other providers across the UK completed the 2021 National Student Survey. This is up from the 310,000 students who answered the survey in 2020.
Survey questions covered all areas of academic life, including the quality of teaching, feedback on work, and learning resources.
The small but mighty Brighton and Sussex Medical School ranked first among institutions in the UK for overall student satisfaction, holding on to this position from last year with a 95.19 per cent overall satisfaction rate. The University of St Andrews was a close second, with 93.34 per cent.
Overall, 75 per cent of UK students agreed that they were satisfied with the quality of their course, a significant decrease from 83 per cent last year.
Despite the sector-wide drop, satisfaction rates differed among courses and providers.
Sharp declines in overall satisfaction came from students in subject areas such as agriculture, architecture and creative and performing arts. This perhaps reflects the difficulty that these hands-on courses had transitioning to remote learning.
Meanwhile, satisfaction rates barely changed from previous years for students on distance learning courses that were established pre-pandemic.
The Office for Students, which manages the survey, included an extra set of questions specific to studying during the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 180,000 students answered, with 80 per cent agreeing that their institution had provided sufficient protective equipment, social distancing measures and distance learning opportunities.
However, the survey suggests that the availability of learning resources for students has been significantly strained over the past year. On IT facilities, 72 per cent of students agreed that they supported their learning well, compared with 83 per cent last year. Meanwhile, 75 per cent said library resources were sufficient to support their learning, compared with 87 per cent in 2020.
Satisfaction scores for mental health support were among the lowest, with only 42 per cent of students agreeing that their university or college was doing enough to support their mental well-being throughout the pandemic.
The chief executive of the Office for Students, Nicola Dandridge, agreed that while the circumstances of the pandemic were exceptional, low satisfaction with mental health services was a concern. “Consideration should be given to what more can be done to ensure students are appropriately supported,” she said.
Explore the full table of universities and their ranking in the survey below.