University approval ratings reach a new high

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ALMOST every university in Yorkshire has seen its satisfaction rating improve this year, according to new figures published on a website which aims to give prospective students more information than ever before to help them choose their course.

The results from this year’s National Students’ Survey are being fed into a new Government website launched yesterday by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The Unistats site allow students to find out about student satisfaction rates, graduate salaries and employment rates, tuition fees and the cost of accommodation for more than 30,000 different courses across the country.

The extra information has been compiled as part of Government reforms aimed at making the higher education system more of a market place.

It was launched as the figures from the latest National Student Survey (NSS) featuring responses from more than 280,000 final year students were published by the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE).

Dr Cable said: “We want to ensure that all students, whatever their background, have the key facts at their fingertips.

“Applying to university is a big decision and we want to ensure that all students, whatever their background, have the key facts at their fingertips to help them make the right choice for them.”

The NSS figures show that satisfaction levels with courses among students across the country are at the highest level since the survey was first launched in 2005.

Eighty-five per cent of UK students said they were either “definitely” or “mostly” satisfied with the quality of their course – up from 83 per cent last year – while eight per cent of students were said to be dissatisfied.

The students taking part in the NSS were not those who are facing higher fees of up to £9,000-a-year which were introduced from this September.

The results showed that seven of the nine universities in Yorkshire have seen an increase in student satisfaction compared with 2011.

The two which did not see an increase were among the highest ranked universities in the region for student satisfaction.

Sheffield University saw its satisfaction rate remain at 90 per cent.

This was the highest score in the region along with the Hull and York Medical School – a combination of the two universities – which is given its own rating. Its score also remained at 90 per cent.

They were both ranked in joint 21st place out of 157 higher education institutions across the country. Hull University saw its rating drop slightly from 89 per cent to 88 per cent but it was still the second best score in the region along with York University.

Most of Yorkshire’s higher education institutions also beat the national average student satisfaction rating of 85 per cent.

Leeds had a score of 87 per cent, while Huddersfield and York St John University, Leeds Trinity University College and Leeds College of Art had scores of 86 per cent.

Leeds Metropolitan’s score was below the national average but saw the biggest increase in the region rising from 77 per cent last year to 83 per cent this time.

Commenting on the national picture HEFCE chief executive Sir Alan Langlands, said: “We have seen steady improvements in the results since the survey began, but this year’s increases are particularly welcome and will act as a spur to further improvement. As prospective students demand better information, the NSS will form a key part of the improved Unistats website.”

Liam Burns, NUS president said: “We have supported and worked with the NSS since it began in 2005 as a tool for securing improvement to student experience.

“Although in that time progress has not been as rapid as we would have liked, particularly in areas such as assessment and feedback, results have continued to improve year on year and they must continue to do so.”