21 May 2014
Last updated at 10:01
Over a quarter of UK students say their degree course is poor or very poor value for money, a study indicates.
The Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) student experience survey also suggests 44% of current students rate courses as good or very good value.
There are regional variations, with 70% of those at Scottish universities saying their course is good value, compared with 42% of those in England.
The government said students were “rightfully becoming more discerning”.
Higher tuition fees were introduced in England in 2012 meaning undergraduates currently in the first or second year of university are paying up to £9,000 a year.
However, Scottish students pay no tuition fees, if they study at a university in Scotland.
REGIONAL FEE DIFFERENCES
- Scottish students pay no fees if they study at a university in Scotland
- Students from Northern Ireland who study there will pay a maximum of £3,685 in 2014-15
- But students from Scotland or Northern Ireland can be charged up to £9,000 if they study elsewhere in the UK
- The same is true for students from elsewhere in the UK studying in Northern Ireland or Scotland
- Students in Wales pay a maximum of £3,685 towards their tuition, regardless of where they study in the UK, with the remainder of the fee covered by a grant funded by the Welsh government and local authorities
The Hepi report says regional differences in perceptions of value for money are “not unexpected given that Scottish and other EU-domiciled students from outside the UK, who constitute the vast majority of students at Scottish institutions, effectively pay no fees”.
The report questioned 15,046 students in their first, second and third year of study.
It assessed the impact of higher fees by comparing the views of first- and second-year students in 2014 (paying up to £9,000 a year) with those in 2012 (paying around £3,000 a year).
While over half of students in 2012 (52%) believed their course represented good value for money, this dropped to 36% in 2014.
One third of current first- and second-year students (33%) say they are receiving poor or very poor value for money, compared with 18% in 2012.
When asked what their top three priorities would be for institutional expenditure, 48% of students said “reducing fee levels”, followed by having more teaching hours and reducing the size of teaching groups (both 35%).
The survey also found 31% said they would definitely or maybe have chosen another course if they were to have their time again.
Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, said: “The data suggest growing differences across the UK. Students in Scotland generally think they are getting good value for money.
“Meanwhile, students in England are paying much more but receiving only a little more. In England, one in three students say they are getting poor value for money – nearly twice as high as before the £9,000 fees were introduced.
“In this election year, students should press all the political parties to say what they will do to encourage universities to offer world-class teaching alongside their world-class research.”
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “We welcome the findings of this report and encourage all universities to regularly review their student feedback to identify where improvements can be made.
“Students are rightfully becoming more discerning about their experience of higher education and therefore institutions will need to ensure that they have systems in place to take on board student concerns.
“As this report points out, student satisfaction remains high.”
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “The increase in fees in England and the shift away from public funding to higher graduate contributions means that students are clearly demanding more from their courses.
“The important thing is ensuring that students have enough information about their courses and that the experience matches their expectations.
“Due to the quality of its degrees, the UK has one the strongest and most highly respected higher education systems in the world.”
21 May 2014 | 10:01 am – Source: bbc.co.uk