Two thirds of university students say degree is not good value for money

Students in England have expressed dissatisfaction over the cost of studying with two thirds saying their degree does not represent good value for money.

The figures have declined steeply over the past four years. The findings are revealed by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA).​

Although value perceptions remain higher among students studying at UK universities outside England, they are falling across all parts of the UK, with just 37 per cent of respondents feeling they receive good value for money compared to 53 per cent in 2012.

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Higher tuition fees in England mean undergraduates currently in the first or second year of university study are paying up to £9,000 a year.

The analysis from the 2016 Student Academic Experience Survey, highlights teaching quality as being critical to the overall experience, and results in this area are generally encouraging.

The poll of current students found an overwhelming opposition to government proposals to let some universities further increase fees, with 86 per cent saying they opposed the move and just 8 per cent in favour.​

Les Ebdon, the director of the Fair Access to Higher Education watchdog: “The survey paints a broadly positive picture, with most students generally satisfied with the teaching they receive at university.  

“There are more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering full-time higher education than ever before. While this is welcome, for access to be truly meaningful, it is crucial that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are well supported through their studies and as they prepare for work or postgraduate study.

Another finding that raised concerns was that students from ethnic minorities were more more likely to be unhappy about the cost of their degree.

“I am concerned to see that students from certain ethnic groups – specifically students of Chinese heritage, Asian and Black students – are less likely to be satisfied with their courses than their White peers. 

“Research from HEFCE also shows that students from some ethnic groups are significantly less likely to gain a good degree or find graduate level employment, even after other factors which may have a bearing on attainment have been taken into account.

“An unexplained gap in attainment is unacceptable, and this survey on student experience shows why it is vital that universities and colleges consider how best to support their BME students to achieve their full potential.

The survey shows that BME students are more likely to live at home, so universities should work hard to ensure that these students feel a sense of belonging in their crucial first weeks and months in higher education. 

“Universities should also consider how best to work with BME students to make sure courses are engaging and accessible, so that everyone with the talent to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to excel.” 


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