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Students satisfied with university courses, but question value for money says new report

8 June 2016 | last updated: 9 June 2016
  • Nine in ten students oppose government's controversial plans to raise tuition fees
  • Students back prioritised investment in teaching over building projects
  • Union says universities need to address issues insecure contracts and declining pay

Despite high levels of satisfaction with their degree overall, fewer students (particularly in England) say their university course offers value for money, warns new research released today.

The vast majority of students (85%) are satisfied with their course, according to the 2016 HEPI-HEA Student Academic Experience Survey. However, it also reveals that perceptions of value for money have fallen overall in the UK by 16% since 2012. Students from England are least likely to say their course is good value for money, with just a third (33%) saying it was.

Students are vehemently opposed to any rise in fees linked to controversial government plans for a Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef).  Just 8% said they thought it was a good idea. When asked to consider ways for universities to save money, students offered a damning indictment of universities' building projects with half (49%) saying they should cut back and instead invest in other areas such as teaching.

UCU said the government needed to invest properly in key areas identified by students, such as support for teaching and staff.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'This report highlights once again the need for proper support for teaching in our universities, and for the people who deliver it. Students remain highly satisfied with their courses, but many more are questioning whether the experience offers decent value for money.

'Half of university teachers (49%) are on insecure contracts and staff pay has fallen by 15% in real-terms. These are urgent areas that universities and government must address. Universities can play their part by prioritising staff over new buildings and make a fair offer to end the current dispute over pay.'

'Despite limited knowledge about where their fee money goes, it is interesting that students have little time for building projects at the expense of teaching. It is encouraging they value substance over style and have so overwhelmingly rejected fee increases linked to controversial plans to measure teaching quality.'