Students report poor value in higher education Inconsistent course quality and contact hours low

23 November 2014


Students in higher education are getting poor value for money, too few contact hours and inconsistent quality, new research from Which? has found. 

One fifth of the graduates surveyed by Which? said their university experience was poor value for money. 

In a separate survey of current students, one in ten said their tuition fees had increased part way through their course - a third of whom felt this was unfair. 

The top reasons students cited poor value for money were inconsistent teaching quality, not enough support to find a good job and too few contact hours.

Too many cancelled sessions and poor timetabling were also cited as reasons for perceptions of poor value. A third of respondents said they'd be unlikely to go to university now faced with higher fees. 

If you've had a change to your degree course, you can use our guide to help you make a complaint

Students unhappy with academic experience

When asked about the academic experience, only half of students said the amount of work they had to do was demanding, with just four in ten saying the content of the work was stretching. 

Less than half said that seminars were generally worth attending and 26% said you can get away with doing little private study and still get good marks. 

Students were also unhappy with the way some courses were managed and how complaints were handled. 

Unsatisfactory complaints handling

Six in ten students experienced a change during their course such as changes to modules or changes to teaching locations. 

Of the students who experienced a problem in the last academic year and complained to their university, 58% were dissatisfied with the way their complaint was handled and half felt it was ignored. 

The Which? report 'A degree of value: value for money from the student perspective' uncovers a number of issues across the higher education market and found that students are lacking key information when it comes to making the best choice. 

Which? Higher Education Report

Following the investigation, Which? has questioned whether the higher education market is delivering for student and is calling for reform of the sector. 

Which? wants to see improved information and advice, with government requiring universities to provide better information, improved consumer protection and minimum standards for complaints handling. 

In addition Which? is calling for improved regulation that focuses more heavily on standards to ensure the market works in the best interests of students. 

More on this...

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