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University students getting poor value for money


A third of students paying increased tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year claim their degree course is either poor or very poor value for money.

Additionally, only 36% said that their course represented good value for money, in comparison with 52% in 2012.

The study which was conducted by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) also revealed students weren’t getting much more teaching time from university lecturers.

The figures revealed that despite some students paying almost three times as much as students who enrolled on their course before 2012 are only receiving 10 minutes a week extra with university lecturers.

Higher expectations

The government said that students “quite rightly” had higher expectations from universities and that universities need to do “far better”.

Universities Minister, David Willets, outlined the importance for universities to provide higher standards of teaching as “Young people are more serious about their education than ever before” and now have “higher expectations”.

Speaking about how he feels universities need to change, he said universities need to move forward from "the days where the academic experience is simply sitting in rows with 500 other people taking notes from slides on a screen that you can access online on your laptop”.

More teaching time in smaller groups

When surveyed, students indicated what they felt universities could do to provide a better value for money service.

The students were asked what their “top three priorities” would be to get better value for money, and unsurprisingly, the most popular answer from students was “reducing fee levels” (48% chose this answer).

However, in terms of improving the performance of their respective universities, students said they needed to provide “more teaching hours” and to “reduce the size of teaching groups” (35% each).

In terms of the teaching time students currently receive, undergraduates were found to receive an average of 14.2 hours of teaching time a week in the form of lectures and seminars. This is just 10 minutes a week more than what students received before the tuition fee cap was raised in 2012.

Additionally, the figures showed that students miss about 9% of lecturers and seminars, with the top reasons cited being that the lectures were “not very useful” and “the notes were available online”.

Regional differences

Whilst only 32% of students in England felt their university course represented good value for money, Scottish universities performed significantly better as 70% of students said their course was good value for money.

However, Scottish students pay no tuition fees, if they study at a university in Scotland.

Nick Hillman, Director of Hepi, said the difference in students feelings towards their course is because "students in England are paying much more but receiving only a little more”. He also continued to point out that the number of students in England who feel they are getting poor value for money is “nearly twice as high as before the £9,000 fees were introduced.”

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