Student satisfaction 'is on the rise', survey shows

students Unions say higher education needs greater investment and commitment

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UK students have become more satisfied with their university experience over the past decade, a study finds.

It shows a rise in satisfaction levels since 2005, especially in areas such as academic support and assessment.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England analysed the results of the annual National Student Survey of more than 2m final-year UK students.

It shows overall satisfaction levels have risen by five percentage points, from 80.2% in 2005 to 85% in 2013.

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Satisfaction with "assessment and feedback" rose by 12 percentage points during this period, as did happiness with "academic support".

The results show differences depending on the subject a student chose, with students in creative art and design, computer science and mass communication and documentation less satisfied over time.

Among the more satisfied were those studying veterinary sciences, physical sciences, mathematical sciences and geographical studies.

The study also found that black African students were more satisfied overall than white students, but those from a black Caribbean background were less content.

The analysis covers the core population of students who have been part of the National Student Survey cohort since 2005 - those registered at English, Welsh and Northern Irish universities who are not funded by the National Health Service.

'Source of intelligence'

Hefce chief executive, Prof Madeleine Atkins, said: "The NSS is an invaluable source of intelligence for universities and colleges.

"The reports we are publishing today confirm the robustness of the NSS, and the value it adds to UK higher education. Hefce will now work with the other UK funding bodies, universities and colleges, and students, to make refinements for the future."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "We welcome this research on the NSS, which shows that students have become more satisfied with their higher education experience.

"However, we are not complacent and are looking for institutions to analyse the data published today to improve the learning experience they offer to all students."

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "Despite unpopular and chaotic university funding changes from governments in the past nine years, students remain satisfied with their degrees and it is the staff in our universities who deserve enormous credit for that.

"Satisfaction remains high even though staff pay has been driven down, workloads have increased and some students expect more for their massively increased fees - despite the fact that money merely covers the funding this government has cut.

"The government and universities cannot continue to simply expect more for less. We need proper investment and commitment to higher education if we are to continue to satisfy students in our universities and be a key player on the world stage."

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