NI students happy with university courses

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

image captionAlmost 90% of Queen's University students were satisfied with their courses

The majority of NI students were satisfied with their degree courses this year, a UK-wide survey suggests.

The National Student Survey (NSS) found 85% of final year students at NI universities said they were satisfied with the quality of their course.

St Mary's University College ranked highest, with 92% of students expressing overall satisfaction.

At Stranmillis University College the figure was 90%, at Queen's University 87% and at Ulster University 83%.

At the Open University, which also has a substantial number of students in Northern Ireland, the overall figure was 89%.

The research by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) sought the views of 304,000 final-year students at 530 institutions across the UK.

image source, Presser
image captionUlster University is investing heavily in its new central Belfast campus

It asked 2017 final-year students a series of 27 questions about their university experience.

These included questions on their course, how they were taught, how their work was assessed, and the advice and learning resources they received.

While the overall percentage of Northern Irish students satisfied with their courses was high, there were some areas with lower satisfaction rates.

For instance, fewer than three-quarters (73%) said their work had been marked in a clear, fair and helpful way.

Meanwhile, fewer than six in 10 (58%) said that their university students' union effectively represented their academic interests.

FE colleges

Students at Northern Ireland further education colleges do not participate in the annual survey.

However, those at Belfast Bible College (BBC) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) do.

At BBC, 60% of students expressed overall satisfaction with their course, while at CAFRE the figure was 73%.

Many universities and colleges use the student survey results internally and in marketing themselves to prospective students.

However, a boycott of the survey coordinated by the National Union of Students over tuition fees appeared to have some impact on the NSS response rate - 8,000 fewer took part this year than last year.

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