Students want universities to prioritise investment in teaching and staff
Students say teaching quality and course content are the two top factors when it comes to listing what makes a course value for money, according to a report released today by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi).
As part of the Student Academic Experience Survey students were asked to rank want they thought represented good value for money. Teaching quality topped the list and was cited by two-thirds (68%) of students. A similar proportion (67%) said course content, while three in five (62%) said course facilities. Just over half (53%) cited career prospects and half (51%) said the quality of campus was important.
Teaching also topped the poll when students were asked what they wanted to see their tuition fee money spent on. Two-thirds (65%) said they wanted the money to go on teaching facilities and 60% said it should be spent on teaching staff. In comparison just one in five (20%) thought it was reasonable to spend fee income on senior management staff.
The UCU said it welcomed the ringing endorsement for staff and urged universities to invest in staff as a top priority. The union also said that the report’s findings should force the government to look again at the support it provides for the poorest students.
The report showed that students who work 10 hours or more a week were less likely to see their course as good value for money. It also discovered that students who commute to university were less likely to describe their course as good value for money.
UCU said the findings suggested that students who could not afford to move away to study, or who had to work long hours to pay the bills when they got there, could be failing to fulfil their potential. The union said the current review of student finance had to look at bringing back maintenance grants for students from the poorest backgrounds.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “It is really encouraging that students continue to recognise the hard work of staff and want to see them properly resourced. Universities would do well to recognise that the staff remain their most valuable asset and reward them appropriately.
“We are concerned that students who are having to work longer hours in paid jobs and those who commute to university perceive their course not to represent as good value for money. The government has to ensure all students can maximise their potential and must bring back maintenance grants.”
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