The student satisfaction at UK Universities has decreased in the latest National Student Survey (NSS) due to “unprecedented challenges”.
The survey, which was completed by 310,000 students from 396 universities, found that student satisfaction with courses dropped from 84% in 2019 to 83% in 2020.
Similarly, 67% of full-time students at English universities agreed their course had been well organised in 2020 compared to 70% in 2019. Satisfaction with university communication has also decreased.
Around 21.2% of responses were received after 11 March 2020, the date the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
The Office for Students (OfS), which regulates higher education, stated that the decreases in satisfaction couldn’t be explicitly linked to the pandemic.
Responses were also affected by the 14-day industrial action across 74 universities in 2020, which had been preceded by an eight-day strike at the end of 2019.
The NSS is offered to all students who are in their final year of university and allows them to reflect on their overall experience in higher education.
Many universities saw their student satisfaction decline including the University of St Andrews, which fell from 95% to 92%.
Other Russell Group institutions also saw their student satisfaction decline, including the University of Leeds and the University of Bristol.
Despite the impact of both industrial action and the coronavirus pandemic on the students responding to the survey, the results remain remarkably positive
– Nicola Dandridge, Cheif Executive of the Office for Students (OfS)
However, London School of Economics (LSE) saw an increase.
Chief Executive of the OfS, Nicola Dandridge stated: “Despite the impact of both industrial action and the coronavirus pandemic on the students responding to the survey, the results remain remarkably positive.
“For several years, students have reported comparatively lower satisfaction with the organisation and management of their courses, and how effectively changes are communicated”.
Ms. Dandridge stressed the importance of universities communicating with their students about how their courses will change in the next academic year.
The General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) Jo Grady argued: “While the National Student Survey has many flaws, the findings do indicate that the unprecedented events of the past academic year have not shaken students’ appreciation for the work staff do”.