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The vast majority of students were satisfied with their university course in 2020, despite the Covid-19 lockdown from March, a sector-level analysis of the National Student Survey results has found.
Jonathan Baldwin, managing director of higher education at Jisc, looks at the changing role of post-Covid university leadership and the enduring need for collaboration.
The government's announcement of a major review of the National Student Survey signals a worrying shift in the HE regulatory landscape, warns Jon Scott, higher education consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester.
Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.
Over a quarter of students from multiple disadvantaged groups are dissatisfied with their non-academic higher education experience, new research shows.
While nearly three quarters of students overall are satisfied with their life at university, 29 per cent of those from three or more disadvantaged groups, such as those with a mental health condition, Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students, students with a disability, lesbian, gay and bisexual students and those from socio-economic groups D and E, said they were dissatisfied.
Students who have a declared mental health condition face challenges with where they live, how they socialise and in building the “soft skills” that will help them to navigate the world of work. Students with a disability are less likely to feel integrated in their accommodation than those without a disability, particularly among those in a flat or house. They are also less likely to feel happy with their relationships with housemates. Six in ten of those with a disability are happy with housemate relationships, compared to 65 per cent of those without a disability.
The latest annual non-academic student experience survey conducted by Unite Students also found that nearly four in ten students (38 per cent) have had thoughts of dropping out of university. Financial and academic pressure, loneliness and stress are just some of the reasons given by students for thinking about leaving their course. Specific groups of students, particularly lesbian, gay and bisexual students, those with a disability and those with a mental health condition, are more likely to consider dropping out and subsequently, more likely to act on this.
The survey found that while three quarters of students felt they were doing a good job of managing their money, a quarter admitted to having to cut back on food to make ends meet.
Nearly three quarters of students said they were nervous about getting their first job, and while over 60 per cent said they felt prepared for it, a third said they thought it would be a challenge finding employment.
Asked how they thought Brexit would effect their job prospects, over half thought it would worsen their chances. More than half also thought Brexit would have a negative impact on their university.
Richard Smith, CEO of Unite Students, said: "To address the issues raised in the report requires two levels of thinking. On a universal basis, it means ensuring every service and opportunity has been designed with all possible students in mind. On an individual basis it means ensuring that targeted services are appropriately available and feel accessible to those they are aimed at."
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