The National Student Survey 2021 has revealed student satisfaction scores have declined dramatically since 2020.
The survey received 332,500 responses, and found that student satisfaction rates with course materials, IT support, and course content were all significantly down since 2020.
The most pressing statistic from the study reveals only 42% of students felt their university or college had taken sufficiant steps to support their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.
What was the reaction from the Office for Students?
The head of the OfS said this was a “concern”, whilst universities minister Michelle Donelan claimed “our universities have shown real innovation and resilience in adapting to this pandemic, which is shown by the majority of students rating their overall experience of their courses positively”.
Improvement is needed, badly.
Whilst the lower satisfaction scores were somewhat predictable, it is clear that universities were, generally, poor at helping students through the pandemic. Quality of teaching is an area that was understandably going to suffer, but the most worrying area is the lack of support experienced by students with regards to their mental health. This is something that needs to be addressed from deep within the structures of universities across the UK, ministers cannot simply put a plaster over the top of poor mental health statistics by claiming “universities had access to up to £256 million to use towards this” – Donelan. The issue is, unfortunately, structural, not purely financial.