Overall satisfaction falls, but small places win big smiles

Courtauld Institute tops THE rankings, with London Metropolitan bottom. Hannah Fearn writes

They may be learning how to manage reputations, but the views of students on a publicity studies course have done little for the standing of their own university.

The undergraduates at Liverpool John Moores University are the least-satisfied students in the UK, according to the 2009 National Student Survey, with just 31 per cent happy with the course.

Sociologists at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff were almost as disappointed, with just 32 per cent of students satisfied.

At the other end of the scale, a number of courses had a 100 per cent satisfaction rating.

Computer scientists at the University of Sheffield, historians at Nottingham Trent University and medics at the University of Liverpool were all unanimously satisfied with their course.

John Derrick, head of computer science at Sheffield, attributed the popularity of his course to its combination of theory and practical application, which gave graduates a good chance of getting a job.

The Courtauld Institute of Art came top of the Times Higher Education ranking, which calculated a grade-point average across all questions answered by students, while the University of Buckingham, last year's leading university for overall satisfaction, came second.

London Metropolitan University had the lowest score in the Times Higher Education ranking. A spokeswoman said the university was disappointed by the results and was reviewing student feedback to see what improvements could be made.

Overall satisfaction dropped marginally across the UK in the past year - 81 per cent of students said they were satisfied, compared with 82 per cent in 2008. Students were most satisfied with the teaching they received, but concerns about assessment and feedback remained.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said universities had "a responsibility to improve standards in accordance with their increased resources".

Students were happiest in Scotland, where 86 per cent said they were satisfied.

Robin McAlpine, public affairs manager at Universities Scotland, said: "For all the politics and the worries about funding, it's nice to be reminded that what universities do is change people's lives for the better."

Among the mission groups, the 1994 Group fared the best, with an average satisfaction rating of 88 per cent. In the Russell Group, 81 per cent of students were satisfied.

The top two institutions were small and specialist: Medway School of Pharmacy, a partnership between the University of Greenwich and the University of Kent, topped the overall satisfaction table with a 97 per cent score, followed by Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

The Open University came third in the table, with 94 per cent of its students registering satisfaction, which it attributed to its teaching materials and its student support.

Students at the University of the Arts London were the least satisfied - just 63 per cent said they were happy with their course.

Nigel Carrington, rector of the University of the Arts, said he had made changes since taking up his post in 2008 but it "will take time to show results".

A spokeswoman for Liverpool John Moores said there were 41 students on its publicity studies course, but as only 26 participated in the survey, the low response rate may not accurately reflect student views.

Results from the National Student Survey…
Most-satisfied students 20082009
Medway School of Pharmacyn/a97
Brighton and Sussex Medical School n/a 95
Open University9494
Courtauld Institute of Art93 93
Institute of Education9093
 
Least-satisfied students 20082009
University of the Arts London6363
University for the Creative Arts6764
London Metropolitan University7268
Glasgow School of Artn/a69
Royal College of Music8169
Note: The figures show the percentage of students, full and part time, who said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of their course. The 2009 figure is for all registered students.
And from Times Higher Education
Top institutions by Times Higher Education ranking of grade-point average
Courtauld Institute of Art4.35
University of Buckingham 4.33
St Mary’s University College, Belfast 4.30
University of Leicester4.21
University of Cambridge 4.19
  
Bottom institutions by Times Higher Education ranking of grade-point average
London Metropolitan University 3.61
University of the Arts London3.63
University of Westminster3.66
School of Pharmacy3.66
Royal College of Music3.67
Note: This ranking is calculated by taking a grade-point average of the scores given by students for all the questions asked. Scores are out of a maximum of 5.

How students in England rated specific aspects
 2008 NSS2009 NSS
 % reporting satisfaction
The teaching on my course8383
Assessment and feedback6465
Academic support7374
Organisation and management7272
Learning resources8180
Personal development7879
Overall satisfaction8281

Correction: 18 August 2009

The above article states that there was an average of 81 per cent overall satisfaction at Russell Group universities this year. In fact Russell Group universities had an average of 85 per cent satisfaction. The English sector average was 81 per cent.

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