Student satisfaction rate stalls at 82%, survey finds

students Students were asked about every aspect of their university experience for the NSS

UK students' satisfaction with their undergraduate courses has stalled, the National Student Survey has found.

Overall, 82% of finalists at UK universities in 2010 were satisfied with the quality of their course, the same percentage as last year.

Universities warn satisfaction ratings could deteriorate as funding cuts bite.

The NSS, in which 252,000 students took part, is published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to help maintain standards.

"The survey provides vital information to inform young people's choices and helps universities and colleges maintain learning and teaching that meets their students' needs," Hefce chief executive Sir Alan Langlands said.

Students are asked about every aspect of their university experience, including questions on teaching, assessment, support and resources.

This year's survey found 81% of students in England were satisfied with their course, the same percentage as last year.

Start Quote

Further cuts would severely impede efforts to drive up quality of teaching ”

End Quote Dr Wendy Piatt Russell Group

Students at Buckingham University, a private institution, were happiest with their course, giving an overall rating of 95%.

The Open University (registered as an English institution), Oxford University and Medway School of Pharmacy received top overall satisfaction ratings of 93%. A total of 91% of students taught at Cambridge University were happy with their courses.

In Scotland the overall satisfaction rate was 86%, the same as in 2009. St Andrew's University was given the top satisfaction rating of 93%.

The overall satisfaction rate for students in Wales was 82%, down from 83% in 2009. Aberystwyth University got the highest satisfaction rating of 92%.

And in Northern Ireland the overall satisfaction rate for undergraduates was 83%, down from 84% last year. St Mary's University College was given the top satisfaction score of 94%.

'Punitive cuts'

But universities warn that tighter budgets ahead will make it harder for them to ensure high student-staff ratios and good quality resources in the future.

Funding levels will be revealed in the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn, but ministers have said departments could face budget cuts of up to 25%.

David Willetts David Willetts says the survey gives prospective students information

Labour had hugely expanded spending on higher education until its last year in office, when it cut the projected budget for universities in England for the academic year 2010-11 by £449m.

An independent review of university fees and funding is being carried out by the former BP chief executive, Lord Browne, and is expected to report back in the autumn.

The director general of the Russell Group, which represents 20 leading universities, said that despite the "challenging funding environment", its members had provided students with an overwhelmingly positive experience.

"However, Russell Group universities are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a high quality learning environment and high student satisfaction rates, particularly in light of the past year's spending cuts," Dr Wendy Piatt said.

"Any further cuts would severely impede efforts to drive up quality of teaching and research."

"It is essential that the government enables universities to access more funds - by lifting fee caps after the Browne review - so they can concentrate on providing a world-class learning experience," she added.

The general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), which represents lecturers and academics, said: "What the coalition government needs to quickly understand is that you cannot make the kinds of cuts it is planning and expect no consequences.

"If the coalition government pushes ahead with its punitive cuts agenda, we will see teachers on the dole, students in larger classes and a higher education sector unable to contribute as much to the economy or society," Sally Hunt added.

'Wake-up call'

The National Union of Students (NUS) said the survey showed university vice-chancellors had failed to improve the student experience in England despite tripling tuition fees.

NUS president Aaron Porter said: "This year's National Student Survey is a wake-up call to university vice-chancellors. They must buck up their ideas and do far more to improve the experience they offer students."

Universities UK chief executive Nicola Dandridge said: "Clearly, there is more to be done and student feedback has a vital role to play."

Universities Minister David Willetts said: "This latest National Student Survey tells a broadly positive story about our universities.

"I want to ensure prospective students have comprehensive, up-to-date and comparable information about what is on offer."

The results of the NSS are published on the Unistats website.

Institutions ranked by overall satisfaction 2008 (%) 2009 (%) 2010 (%)
University of Buckingham 96 92 95
St Mary's University College; A College of The Queen's University of Belfast 94
Open University 94 94 93
University of Oxford 92 93
Medway School of Pharmacy 97 93
University of St Andrews 93
Aberystwyth University 92
University of Cambridge 93 91 91
Central School of Speech and Drama 85 79 90
University of East Anglia 91 90 90
Institute of Education 90 93 90
University of Exeter 91 90 90
University of Sussex 86 86 90
University of Glasgow 90
Keele University 89 88 89
University of Leicester 91 91 89
Loughborough University 91 89 89
University of Sheffield 89 89 89
University of Warwick 88 88 89
University of Aberdeen 89
University of Stirling 89
University of Essex 88 85 88
University of Reading 88 87 88
Royal Academy of Music 94 83 88
Royal Agricultural College 78 81 88
University of Durham 89 88 87
University of Hull 88 87 87
University of Kent 90 87 87
Lancaster University 89 89 87
University of Newcastle upon Tyne 86 87 87
University of Nottingham 85 87 87
University College London 88 87 87
Hull and York Medical School 90 87
University of Dundee 87
Heriot-Watt University 87
University of Bath 88 87 86
University of Birmingham 85 86 86
King's College London 84 83 86
Queen Mary, University of London 84 85 86
Royal College of Music 81 69 86
Royal Holloway, University of London 85 85 86
University of Southampton 86 86 86
University of York 85 88 86
University of Edinburgh 86
University of Strathclyde 86
Bangor University 86
Cardiff University 86
Harper Adams University College 90 92 85
Imperial College London 85 85 85
School of Oriental and African Studies 85 86 85
Oxford Brookes University 86 84 85
University of Portsmouth 88 85 85
Brighton and Sussex Medical School 95 85
Queen's University Belfast 85
University College Birmingham 86 84 84
Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln 92 80 84
University of Bristol 83 84 84
University of Greenwich 81 83 84
Leeds Trinity University College 80 80 84
University of Liverpool 84 85 84
Newman University College 83 80 84
Royal Veterinary College 77 78 84
St Mary's University College 86 84 84
Robert Gordon University 84
Swansea University 84
Aston University 89 84 83
University of Bradford 79 83 83
University of Central Lancashire 82 82 83
University of Chichester 87 88 83
Courtauld Institute of Art 93 93 83
Edge Hill University 83 83 83
Guildhall School of Music & Drama 82 79 83
University College Plymouth St Mark & St John 80 80 83
Glasgow Caledonian University 83
Conservatoire for Dance and Drama 81 89 82
De Montfort University 83 82 82
University of Leeds 85 84 82
University of Lincoln 82 81 82
University of Northampton 81 83 82
University of Northumbria at Newcastle 84 80 82
University of Sunderland 83 82 82
University of Surrey 83 85 82
University of Teesside 83 84 82
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff 82
University of Ulster 82
Canterbury Christ Church University 83 84 81
Goldsmiths College, University of London 82 80 81
University of Hertfordshire 78 81 81
St George's Hospital Medical School 90 74 81
Staffordshire University 81 78 81
York St John University 81 80 81
City University, London 78 77 80
Kingston University 81 79 80
London School of Economics and Political Science 77 76 80
London South Bank University 75 80 80
University of the West of England, Bristol 83 83 80
Edinburgh Napier University 80
Bath Spa University 84 83 79
The Arts University College at Bournemouth 81 83 79
University of Brighton 81 80 79
Coventry University 79 78 79
University of Derby 76 79 79
University of Huddersfield 76 79 79
University of Manchester 81 77 79
Nottingham Trent University 83 82 79
University of Plymouth 82 80 79
Roehampton University 80 79 79
Sheffield Hallam University 80 76 79
University of Winchester 86 83 79
University of Bolton 77 77 78
University of Chester 80 82 78
University of Gloucestershire 79 80 78
University of Salford 80 77 78
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 84 82 78
University of Wolverhampton 76 78 78
University of Worcester 84 80 78
University of Glamorgan 78
University of Wales, Lampeter 78
Trinity University College 78
Bournemouth University 79 79 77
Heythrop College 88 83 77
Leeds Metropolitan University 70 69 77
Liverpool John Moores University 78 79 77
Middlesex University 75 69 77
Norwich University College of the Arts 76 79 77
Swansea Metropolitan University 77
University of Bedfordshire 80 79 76
University of East London 73 72 76
University College Falmouth 76 80 76
Liverpool Hope University 81 78 76
School of Pharmacy 88 82 76
Rose Bruford College 79 71 76
Royal Northern College of Music 86 85 76
Southampton Solent University 68 72 76
Brunel University 77 77 75
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts 75 74 75
Manchester Metropolitan University 75 76 75
Glyndwr University 74
Birmingham City University 75 77 73
University of Westminster 73 71 73
Writtle College 72 72 73
Stranmillis University College 73
University of Wales, Newport 72
Anglia Ruskin University 65 69 71
Universities of East Anglia and Essex; Joint Provision at University Campus Suffolk 80 71
University of Cumbria 79 77 70
Buckinghamshire New University 69 72 69
Leeds College of Music 68 68 69
London Metropolitan University 72 68 67
Ravensbourne 81 73 67
Thames Valley University 76 72 67
Glasgow School of Art 65
University for the Creative Arts 67 64 64
University of the Arts London 63 63 62
Birkbeck College 92 90

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