Half Of UK University Students Say Degree Is Poor Value For Money | TOTUM
Ben HaywardJune 23rd
2021

Almost half of current students say their degree offered poor value for money this year, according to a recent survey. 

Carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), has revealed the extent of anger among students regarding how universities have responded to the pandemic, with 2020-21 being first year that saw more students feeling let down by their courses than were satisfied since the survey began 15 years ago.

44% of the 10,000 full-time graduates asked thought their courses offered poor value for the fees paid - double the amount than in the 2019-20 academic year -  despite disruption to that year as well.

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The marked increase is thought to have come about as many students  believe that universities misled them concerning how much in-person teaching they could expect during the 2020-21 year.

Students cited being particularly unhappy with the cost of tuition, taking into account the lack of contact hours and in-person teaching, with many commenting that online learning ‘isn’t worth £9k’ and ‘is extremely different to in-person learning’.

Responding to the findings, Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of the university regulator, the Office for Students, said universities must be more transparent with students about how much in-person teaching they are likely to receive in the 2021-22 academic year to ensure they have ‘realistic expectations’

Ms Daindridge said: “It is clearly of concern to see such a significant increase in the number of students saying that their course presents poor value for money – largely driven by the limited availability of in-person tuition.

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“If we are going to learn lasting and meaningful lessons from the pandemic, listening carefully and responding to students’ views will be essential.”

Although some universities, including the London School of Economics and Edinburgh, have said they will offer all lectures online and most seminars in person, other institutions’ websites remain unclear and  vague concerning their plans, with many simply stating that the blend of online and in-person will depend on year of study, course and module choices, reports the Guardian.  

The survey also revealed that nearly a fifth of current undergraduates are planning to go on to further study, with a number institutions, including UCL and Sheffield, reporting an increase in the numbers of applications for postgraduate degrees this year.

It’s thought this could be due to students’ concerns about cuts to graduate schemes as well as a lack of entry-level jobs as a result of the pandemic.

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Meanwhile, a new report from education charity the Sutton Trust said the introduction of government-backed postgraduate loans in England had doubled the proportion of graduates from lower-income backgrounds studying for masters degrees - from 6% to 12.9% - but that they are still underrepresented compared to those from more privileged backgrounds. 

It also warned that the high cost of study may still be excluding some students.

Average tuition fees at universities in London, Oxford and Cambridge having doubled since 2011 to reach £10,900, with living costs stretching that to an estimated £20,000 a year, which is far beyond the availability of existing loans.

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