A third of first and second year students believe their course represents poor value for money, a student experience survey has found.
The Student Academic Experience Survey revealed that 33.1% of those studying at institutions in England felt their course was poor or very poor value for money in 2014. This figure was just 18.3% in 2012, meaning that student dissatisfaction has nearly doubled since fees increased to £9000.
It is, therefore, unsurprising that nearly half (48%) of undergraduates thought that ‘reducing fee levels’ should be the top priority for institutional expenditure.
The rise in tuition fees has not appeared to provide a better quality of teaching for students. Georgia Murphy, a first year Psychology student, complained: “Feedback and help can be quite limited so I do wonder whether I'm paying for anything other than the lectures!”.
The survey also found that two-thirds of undergraduate students (64%) are satisfied with their course’s contact hours. A further look at this, however, suggests that this satisfaction is somewhat dependent on the course’s number of contact hours.
More than two thirds (69%) of students with 10 to 19 contact hours per week are satisfied with timetabled sessions. This figure drops to 43% for students with 0 to 9 hours per week. There is, therefore, a correlation between low levels of contact hours and low levels of student satisfaction.
Regarding contact hours, second year Leeds University student Sasha El-Halwani criticised the lack of support that six hours of teaching provides. She told The Huffington Post UK: "My International Relations course is mostly just a library membership, pretty expensive at £9k."
Dissatisfaction with the value for money of courses has not, interestingly enough, translated to dissatisfaction with courses per se. The survey found that 86% of students are fairly or very satisfied with their course.
This implies that there are a multitude of factors at play in determining students’ opinions of their course.
One of these factors the survey picked up on was the size of classes. 50% of students found classes very beneficial when there were 1 to 5 people in them, but only 10% felt the same when there were more than 100 people in them.