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Students less satisfied with the quality of online learning replacing face-to-face teaching due to COVID-19

A survey conducted by YouthSight for the Higher Education Policy Institute has concluded that the number of students satisfied with the quality of online learning has decreased since lockdown began.

Just 42% of the 1,000 undergraduates surveyed reported being either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘quite satisfied’ with their online learning. This is a decrease from a 49% satisfaction rate in March this year.

The proportion of students that felt their institution had delivered ‘very clear’ communication about the impact of coronavirus for the current academic year has also dropped – from 31% in March to just 19% in June.

Meanwhile, in regard to next academic year, just 43% of students felt communications had been quite or very clear. Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute, reflected: “It is concerning that less than half feel they have had clear messaging from their university about the next academic year.”

The results show that students are realistic that the next academic year is likely to be radically different to the norm

– Rachel Hewitt

The survey also identified lower than average student satisfaction with wellbeing provisions. Less than half of students felt satisfied with the delivery of support services during the pandemic – 13% are ‘very satisfied’ and 31% are ‘quite satisfied’.

In response to the survey, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said that it is “deeply concerning” that “students are reporting far lower levels of wellbeing”.

Ms Donelan also said that the survey “revealed that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the experience of some students, both academically and in terms of their wellbeing, and no one can be surprised by this”.

The results also reflected that students anticipate significant changes to their university experience next academic year. 71% expected social distancing measures across campuses and more than half expected limited access to on-campus facilities.

“The results show that students are realistic that the next academic year is likely to be radically different to the norm,” says Ms Hewitt. “Staff are working their socks off to get their campuses ready for the new academic year and we hope these results will help them prepare.”


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