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The student academic experience – what does the other data show? 2014 HEPI-HEA summer conference Sonia Sodha.

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Presentation on theme: "The student academic experience – what does the other data show? 2014 HEPI-HEA summer conference Sonia Sodha."— Presentation transcript:

1 The student academic experience – what does the other data show? 2014 HEPI-HEA summer conference Sonia Sodha

2 > Over 3 million visits, received 24,000 visits alone on A’ level results day. 62,894 real-life student views added. Parent guide well received. Cost of Living Index and new subject pages in development. First full user-testing of site complete - in process of applying the learnings. Key finding: students value the comparability function on the site above all else.

3 The market in HE is increasingly reliant on engaged users Government policy has increased choice with the objective of widening participation and creating a more responsive/ innovative market:  40 per cent of young people study at this level up from 5 per cent 50 years ago.  Funding follows the student, and there has been an increase in alternative providers.  In 2015 the student numbers cap will be lifted, which could further increase choice but is also likely to increase the risk that some institutions fail. The fee cap has increased from £3k to £9k, making going to university the first significant financial decision that many young people will take, although government estimates suggest that 45 per cent won’t pay back in full. The variable fee policy relies on students making decisions based on cost to help encourage price competition. The official dataset lacks key pieces of information on the academic experience and employment outcomes – a conclusion that also recently reached by the OFT. Students cannot easily switch without losing credits, making it more important that they make the right choice first time, but also that mechanisms to support voice are effective. Regulatory system requires engaged users: risk-based regime reliant on good intelligence, and users to flag issues. QAA information on quality also relates to process rather than actual teaching quality and standards.

4 Value is complex in HE  Triple impetus: signal to employers, as well as academic and social aspects – difficult for market to know how to respond.  Price is a poor indicator and HE is a post-experience good, so true value not realised until later in life.  Makes it difficult for the market to know how to respond. Personal/ social aspect: networks, personal devpt Academic Experience knowledge and transferrable skills Signalling in LM: employability and earnings 63 per cent of prospective students say main reason is to improve employment prospects/ pursue a specific vocation. 29 per cent of prospective students say that personal development is one of the top two reasons for applying to university.

5 Choice: students aren’t rational decision-makers Q2: Other than entry requirements, what factors did you research when you were making your choice of course/university. Youthsight, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 1003 UK applicants intending to start university in September 2014, online between 7th and 24th February Roughly three in ten considered teaching/ the staff at the university. Less than three in ten considered cost of the course. Despite employment prospects being the no. 1 reason students apply to university only 38 per cent researched employment performance data.

6 Part of the reason students weren't considering the academic experience was because they thought that it would be the same across different institutions. They trusted the league tables to be a good indication of teaching quality. Prospective students aren't always aware why they need to consider the academic experience “I didn’t think there would be a difference in hours, I just thought they would be the same… It wouldn’t change my mind about a university, but it would help me weigh up my options.” Year 13, English Student “I think there is a certain amount of trust when selecting universities. So many people have gone through the system, you just trust where you go, and go with it.” 2 nd year, Politics Student “Now that I am in my 2nd year, I am picking as many course work options as I can, but before I wasn't looking at how much course work there was vs. exams. I think there is a certain amount of trust when selecting universities, so many people have gone through the system. You just trust where you go, and go with it.” 2 nd year, Politics “I would prefer to have more seminars with an equal amount of private study time and less lectures. I always knew I needed that contact time with a lecturer or tutor.”2 nd year, politics

7 36 per cent of students didn’t receive one to one advice at the time of making their choice Q13. Now thinking about any careers advice you may, or may not, have received at the time of making your university/course choices, from your school/ college. Which of the following, if any, did you receive? Base: all applicants 19 and under (799)

8 The Key Information Set is limited Information in the KIS on the academic experience limited to satisfaction scores, proportion of time students will spend in scheduled teaching versus private study and the balance of assessment between coursework and exams. Information on graduate employment performance limited to 6 months post graduation. “This is in a % I have no idea what the hours are. If I was right back when I was applying I wouldn’t know how much time I would be spending on Uni stuff. This is 75% of what…?” 2 nd year, politics “This one has much more tutorial time. That does make it much easier to build a relationship with the tutor” 2 nd year, Politics

9 The information provided by universities can be limited A review that we conducted of twenty institutions’ websites and prospectuses, looking in particular at information provided about English courses, found that:  Only two provided comprehensive information on the total number of contact hours per week but even then this was not broken down by lectures or tutorials.  Only two of the twenty gave an indication of the amount of private study that was required.  Six out of twenty gave an idea of the size of the seminar/ tutorial class.  No single institution provided information on all of these things.

10 Voice: when students get to university/ graduate they express concerns Among freshers: 21 per cent said that the teaching time was less than expected. 42 per cent said that the fees that they paid weren’t value for money. A fifth had considered changing course and one in ten have regretted their choice. Among under-graduates:  Last year’s student academic experience survey found that six in ten students don’t think that their academic experience matches their expectations/ or doesn’t match it in some way with top reasons including: the course was poorly organised, teaching hours too few, that they didn’t feel supported in their private study or that the teaching quality was poor. One third of first year students thought that their course was poor value for money. Students with fewer than nine hours of contact time were (at least) twice as likely as other students to say that their course was poor value for money. One third of all students said that they may have chosen a different course if they knew what they did now about their academic experience. Freshers: An online survey of 1200 undergraduate students, who have just completed their first semester of University, between11 Dec and 19 Dec Undergraduates: Youthsight on behalf of HEPI/ Which? surveyed 17,090 full-time undergraduate students in their first, second, third and fourth years at UK institutions. The fieldwork took place between the 26 February and 21 March 2013.

11 Three quarters of graduates would have done more research in hindsight. One in five would have considered the quality of teaching or teaching hours Q10. Looking back, are there any factors you didn’t consider when choosing your university, but now feel that you should have? (multi code). Youthsight on behalf of Which? surveyed 1013 graduated within 2 years of leaving university. The fieldwork took place between July 2012.

12 Possible solutions Better information and advice: KIS should contain better information on the academic experience including information on number of teaching hours and amount of small group teaching. Better information on long-term employment outcomes. Institutions should also look at the information they provide via their own websites. Wider reforms: Regulation of quality and standards. Support for students to switch. Protection where things go wrong: where universities fail financially, redress system. Exploring ways to promote innovation.


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