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Poll finds students with biggest workloads are the happiest

The image of the "lazy student" who would rather spend time in the pub than the lecture hall may soon be consigned to the past, new research suggests. Picture by David Cheskin/PA Wire.
The image of the "lazy student" who would rather spend time in the pub than the lecture hall may soon be consigned to the past, new research suggests. Picture by David Cheskin/PA Wire.
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Students with the lightest workload are least likely to be happy, according to the findings of a new study that suggests the “lazy student” stereotype is an outdated one.

Some 71 per cent of students with a total workload of 30 to 39 hours a week said they would not switch courses and were happy with their choices, compared to just 37 per cent of those with a total workload of one to nine hours.

The 2018 Student Academic Experience Survey study, based on a poll of more than 14,000 undergraduates, suggests that students are perhaps more minded of getting value for money from paying substantial course fees that contribute to many leaving university with significant debts.

Just over a third of those polled said they believe they are getting their money’s worth from their course.

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Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), which published the survey with Advance HE, said the findings “puncture the caricature of the lazy student”.

“Things like student wellbeing become a problem when students feel helpless and directionless and they have lots of time to sit around worrying rather than getting on and engaging with their discipline,” he said.

In addition, Mr Hillman said, there is a general feeling that students today are more industrious than in previous generations.

He said: “It may also be to do with the changing nature of students. There are a lot more ‘first in family’ students, who are so proud to be there, they feel this is an opportunity to transform their lives, so they have better opportunities than their parents did.”

And, he added: “A small part of it is that they want something for their money.”

The survey asked about value for money and found that 38 per cent believe that their course is ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value for money, up from 35 per cent last year, but still considerably below 2012 - when fees of up to £9,000-a-year were introduced. Then, 53 per cent of students said their course was value for money.

Universities have plenty of work to do to improve the experience for students, said Yvonne Hawkins, a director at the Office for Students.

“While we note the survey’s findings on value for money, and the fact that a slightly higher proportion of students feel they have received good value for money this year, significant numbers of students report not being satisfied with their higher education experience.

“Overall the results send a clear signal that there is more work to be done.”

Students at institutions rated “gold” in the teaching excellence framework were most likely to say they have had good value for money.

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