Has the rise in higher education changed student expectations?

10 October 2014
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With the considerably higher costs and growing importance of securing a good grade, it is no surprise students are demanding better value for money from their degree. It is also no surprise that student expectations have increased as the amount of money they have to pay has.

What are students’ top three priorities for HE expenditure?

  • 48% reducing fee levels
  • 35% more teaching hours
  • 35% reducing size of teaching groups

(Poll by Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA))

The 2014 UK National Student Survey shows that student satisfactions levels are at a record high. However, one in three students in England still said they are getting poor value for money. Unsurprisingly this is nearly twice as high as before the new £9,000 fees were introduced. So what exactly are student expecting from universities, and where are these expectations falling short?

Recent higher education reports tell us a lot about student expectations and perceptions of HE. The following are some of the main points:

  • Expectation HE will improve a student’s career prospects and enhance future career
  • Expectation institutions will offer guidance and advice to support students in developing their employability within and outside their course
  • Wanted a personalised HE experience, with small teaching sessions and chances to meet other students and staff
  • Expected staff to be qualified and trained, and wanted procedures to manage ‘bad teaching’
  • Lack of information available for students on the quality of teaching and staff
  • Failure to meet expectations on resources and facilities (course structure, physical spaces, staff support and even lecturers’ attitudes towards students)
  • Concern about levels of evaluation and feedback at course level
  • Students often unsure of what was expected of them and unaware of where to go for help in their transition to HE

The growth of tuition fees and student debt coupled with a fall in financial and educational returns has challenged the longstanding assumption that a university education is a good investment. Students are also not who they used to be. They are demanding, have high expectations and want to be treated as customers whose money is being invested wisely. Therefore it is up to universities to ensure students feel they are getting value for money.

To read the full report, go to The Degree Course Gamble – Impoving the odds to find out and how institutions can meet these demands.

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