Survey reveals best and worst universities for student experience
Student experience is becoming increasingly important as university fees rise and students demand more from their higher education.
The University of Loughborough offers the best student experience in the UK, according to a survey of undergraduates across the country.
This year the Times Higher Education (THE) UK Student Experience Survey asked more than 20,000 students about different aspects of university life. Loughborough pushed last year’s winner, Harper Adams, off the top spot and down into second place.
Loughborough has now finished first for the fifth time in nine years, initally winning the top spot in 2009.
Among the categories were teaching quality, facilities, accommodation, and social life. As well as ranking first overall, Loughborough topped the list for societal experience and university facilities.
The best (and worst) UK universities for student experience
By now you’re probably wondering which other UK universities did well in the rankings, and which did... well, not so well. Let's take a look at the top 20 to see if yours features:
|Student experience rank||University|
|2||Harper Adams University|
|3||University of Leeds|
|4||University of Bath|
|5||University of Sheffield|
|6||University of Oxford|
|7=||University of Surrey|
|7=||University of Exeter|
|10=||University of Chichester|
|10=||University of St Andrews|
|12=||Royal Veterinary College|
|14||University of Dundee|
|16||University of Nottingham|
|17||Edge Hill University|
|18=||University of Cambridge|
|18=||University of York|
No London institutions made it into the top 10 this year, and nor did top global university Cambridge.
As for the bottom 20? Well over half (11) are London-based, including regular table-topper the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). This is all the more surprising given that the institution was recently ranked as the 25th best university in the world.
|Student experience rank||University|
|116||University of the West of Scotland|
|115||University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)|
|113=||University of Bedfordshire|
|113=||London South Bank University|
|112||University of Greenwich|
|111||University of Wolverhampton|
|109||London Metropolitan University|
|106=||Norwich University of the Arts|
|106=||City University London|
|106=||University of Westminster|
|105||University of Roehampton|
|104||London School of Economics and Political Science|
|103||University of West London|
|102||University of the Arts London|
|101||University of Northampton|
|98=||Goldsmiths, University of London|
|98=||Anglia Ruskin University|
|97||University of South Wales|
In-depth data from YouthSight, which compiles the survey, enabled the THE Student Experience Survey to dig deeper into some of the reasons for this year’s results.
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It revealed, for example, that societal experience was a major reason why universities which fell a number of places ranked so badly.
THE editor, John Gill, said:
Understanding the student experience has never been more important to universities, which are competing with one another to a far greater extent than they once did.
That competition plays out in the academic experience, of course, but also the facilities and lifestyles on offer for those who choose to study at a particular institution.
It's interesting to compare these student experience results with how UK institutions did in overall world university rankings as well as the UK universities offering the best value for money. Has yours made the cut in either of those rankings?
Which unis finished top for each measure?
As well as overall performance, THE assessed universities on individual elements of a student’s experience, dividing this into seven categories.
For academic experience, Harper Adams retained its top spot. It was joined by two other top 10 institutions, Oxford and Chichester, with Cambridge and St Andrews rounding off the top five.
No Oxbridge or London universities made it into the top five for security. The institutions who came out on top for this were all campus-based institutions: Surrey, Bath, Chichester, Lancaster, and St Andrews.
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Harper Adams also won the top spot for student welfare. Loughborough, St Andrews, and Leeds were also high up on the list, and Chichester made yet another appearance in third place.
When accommodation was measured, Lancaster came first, followed by the usual suspects Loughborough and Harper Adams.
Edge Hill made its first appearance in a top five for accommodation, as did Sheffield. It's interesting to measure these results against our deeper look into accommodation standards at UK universities.
Loughborough won for societal experience, and some familiar names, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Bath, also finished in the top five.
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According to current students, Harper Adams is the best for industry connections, followed by Loughborough, Bath, the Royal Veterinary College, and then LSE. This was the only case in which a London institution was ranked in the top five for any of the measures.
Finally, for universities facilities, Loughborough came out on top. As expected, Leeds, Bath, and Harper Adams also placed in the top five, and a newcomer, Dundee, came fourth.
As you can see, many of the same names came up again and again in these individual rankings - showing that these institutions really are consistent when it comes to providing a great student experience.
How did your university do? Do you agree or disagree with the place it came in the table, and why? Let us know in the comments!