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Interventionism is suddenly all the rage with the Westminster Conservative government, and higher education is feeling the impact as new policies and legislation are brought to bear on the sector, writes Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of Push and of the Engineering Professors’ Council.
Eight out of 10 postgraduate students taking a taught course in the UK report continued satisfaction with the experience over a five-year period.
But a survey of more than 70,000 postgraduates across 85 higher education institutions who responded to the Advance HE Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) highlights for the first time areas where institutions could do better still to boost satisfaction levels.
This year's PTES shows that an 82 per cent overall satisfaction among taught postgraduates has remained consistent since 2015, with just a 2 per cent dip in 2018. Last year’s PTES pointed to strike action at the time of completing the survey as a potential factor in this small decrease.
Institutions score highly for providing effective resources and information in 2019, remaining the same at 85 per cent over the past three to four years. Although areas needing significant improvement are few, Advance HE has provided new analysis in 2019 on suggestions for improvements so that providers can continue to meet the needs of postgraduate taught students.
Half of the 20,000 respondents suggested improvements on programme design and organisation, such as timetabling. More than a third (37 per cent) of respondents felt programme delivery, including the quality of lecturers and contact time, could be improved and 34 per cent said they would like to see better learning and project support.
The survey also shows that institutions face a challenge to increase the relatively low overall satisfaction reported by PGT students from Asian, Mixed and Other backgrounds. The results could provide the impetus for institutions to conduct further investigative work to understand how these groups feel their experience can be improved.
While a fifth of responding students said they had considered leaving their course, Advance HE says this compares favourably with similar data collected at undergraduate and postgraduate research level "and endorses the levels of support provided across the sector".
Alison Johns, Advance HE Chief Executive, said: “It is heartening to see evidence that the postgraduate taught experience is so positive, with strong support from students and institutions. This is a true endorsement of the sector’s commitment towards postgraduate taught provision.
“However, although the sector is doing a good job of meeting the needs of PGT students, I hope this year’s results, as well as institutions’ own data, can help to drive further enhancements in future PGT experience.”
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