The 13th annual ‘Student Academic Experience Survey’ examined how full-time undergraduate students rate their time in higher education and their attitudes towards policy issues that impact upon them.
“This potentially raises a concern around how the UK university experience is viewed”
The study sample was weighted to reflect the composition of the undergraduate population: ethnicity-wise, the 14,072 undergraduate students were divided into 78% white, 13% Asian (excluding Chinese), 6% mixed, 3% black and 1% Chinese.
“The one major area where perceptions declined this year is among students from other EU countries, falling from 47% to 44%,” noted the authors Jonathan Neves, head of Business and Surveys at Advance HE and Nick Hillman, director of HEPI.
“Although not statistically significant, this potentially raises a concern around how the UK university experience is viewed as Brexit continues to dominate the news agenda.”
The dominant driver of low-value perception among all students was tuition fees (62%), while the main driver of a positive experience is teaching quality (64%), according to the survey.
Further data from the survey revealed another challenge to the sector in the range of less positive results among UK-domiciled Asian and Chinese students, “who continue to perceive less value, lower levels of learning, and less effective teaching”.
These students said that they felt less prepared than their peers and often cited their own levels of effort if their expectations were not matched.
Conversely, ‘perceptions of value have increased significantly among students from England (35% to 39%)’, Scotland (60% to 63%) and Northern Ireland (36% to 38%), reversing a decline seen in 2018.
The authors stressed the need to do more both before and during university to set the right expectations and maintain a level of dialogue which will enable universities to offer tailored support if appropriate.
The same study also highlighted that undergraduate students’ well-being is at risk in the UK, following dissatisfaction level: only 16% of those who took part in the survey reported they have low levels of anxiety.