Students place higher value on course content when choosing a university

What is the most important factor for UK students when choosing a university? Research reveals that academic factors are more important than social considerations

March 27 2018
Academic books and notes

Course content and structure is the most important factor for UK students when choosing a university, according to new research.

In a survey of more then 2,000 people, carried out by student lettings app SPCE, respondents were asked to score a range of factors from 1 to 10 based on how important they were when choosing a university, with 1 not being important at all and 10 being extremely important.

Position

Factor

Mean score

1

The course on offer: its curriculum, assessment type and structure

8.4

2

The reputation of the university

7.7

3

The university’s perceived ability to boost later career opportunities

7.1

4

How accessible the university is by major transport links

6.7

5

The university’s facilities: gym, library, IT and science labs

6.3

6

The university’s distance from my family home

6.1

7

Affordability: how cheap or expensive the town/city is

6.1

8

The student accommodation available: halls and private rentals

5.9

9

The support services: counselling, enrichment and diversity programmes

5.8

10

Culture of the university or region: arts, food and attractions

5.7

11

The size of the town or city that the university is located in or near

5.6

12

The nightlife on offer in the area

4.6

13

The sports you can play or watch either at the university or in the area

3.9

14

Having family or friends at the university or previously attended it

3.9

15

The weather in the region

3.6

The results reveal that students place a higher value on the academic offerings of a university than they do on the social side, with the course curriculum, assessment type and structure being the most important factor.

The university’s reputation and its impact on career prospects were the second and third most important factors, respectively.

However nightlife was not deemed vitally important to students, coming in at 12th on the list out of 15. Other factors that were considered less important were having friends or family at the same university, and the weather in the region.

Leon Iyafemi, CEO and co-founder of SPCE, said that these findings dispel “several myths about student cultures in the UK”.

“Young people are not making decisions based on a university’s nightlife, nor whether or not they have friends going to the same place – clearly, the importance of social factors pales in comparison to the academic merits of their decision,” he said.

These questions were posed to three different groups: current undergraduate students at a UK university; any graduates who had earned an undergraduate degree at a UK university since 2007; and any graduates who had earned an undergraduate degree at a UK university before 2007.

The table of results above reflects the scores of the current undergraduate cohort and those who graduated from a UK university since 2007. The responses were collected from those who had graduated from a UK university before 2007 to track changes in trends over a longer period of time.

The scores of all three groups can be found in the table below:

Factor

All current students and grads since 2007

Current students

Graduated 2007-17

Graduated before 2007

The specific course on offer – its curriculum, assessment type and structure

8.4

8.5

8.4

8.6

The reputation of the university (either as a whole or in your particular subject)

7.7

7.5

7.8

7.8

Believing the university would open doors in terms of later career opportunities

7.1

6.7

7.4

7.0

How accessible the university is by major transport links

6.7

6.7

6.8

6.6

The university’s facilities (eg, gym, library, IT/science labs)

6.3

6.4

6.3

6.2

The university’s distance from my family home 

6.1

5.9

6.3

6.0

Affordability – how cheap or expensive the town/city is

6.1

5.7

6.4

6.1

The student accommodation available (both halls and the student rental options)

5.9

5.6

6.2

6.0

The support services on offer – counselling, enrichment and diversity programmes

5.8

5.9

5.7

4.9

The culture of the university or place it is located – including the arts, food and attractions

5.7

5.7

5.7

5.9

The size of the town/city the university is located in/near

5.6

5.3

5.9

5.4

The nightlife on offer 

4.6

4.4

4.8

4.5

The sports you can play or watch, either at the university or in the surrounding area

3.9

3.9

4.0

3.7

Having family, friends or partners either at that university or having previously attended it

3.9

4.0

3.8

3.6

The weather in the region

3.6

3.5

3.6

3.3

Note - all scores have been rounded to one decimal place

Read more: How international students use social media to choose a UK university 

 

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