HEPI/Which? report on student academic experience

15 May 2013

Commenting on the HEPI/Which? report Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“We are pleased this report shows that the highest proportion of students - 91% - are highly or fairly satisfied with the overall quality of their course at Russell Group universities.
“Students are right to expect value for money - that’s why our leading universities place so much emphasis on high-quality teaching and learning and investing in cutting-edge facilities.
“Millions of pounds have been invested in new books and labs, improved lecture theatres, innovative teaching, more professional careers services and smaller class sizes.
“However, the independent learning required at university is a very different experience from learning at school, so it is important we take the debate away from the narrow confines of contact hours.
“The workload is rightly demanding at Russell Group universities; students are supported through their studies in different ways and learn in ways that are hard to quantify.
“As this report shows many lecturers operate an ‘open door’ policy where students can get help and advice outside lectures or tutorials.
“We are disappointed that the report uses the misleading term ‘non-academic staff’ when referring primarily to post-doctoral research staff with high-level qualifications and in-depth knowledge of the subject they are teaching.
“There are obviously more post-doctoral staff in research-intensive universities than other universities and undergraduates benefit hugely from learning in this environment and enjoy being taught by PhD students and researchers.
“The report shows students at Russell Group universities have more hours per week in a small group environment than at other types of universities (with the exception of specialist institutions), and that this is something students feel they gain from.”

Notes to editors

  1. Figure 8 of the report shows that 41% of students at Russell Group universities are very satisfied and 50% are fairly satisfied (91% in all). This compares with 39% and 50% (89%) at Pre-92 universities and 32% and 52% (84%) at Post-92 universities.
  2. Table 3 shows students at Russell Group universities have on average 1.62 hours a week groups of five or fewer and 2.51 hours in groups of 6-15.
  3. The University of Bristol ChemLabS opened in 2007 and includes the Dynamic Laboratory Manual http://www.chemlabs.bris.ac.uk/overview.htm
  4. The University of Liverpool opened its £23 million central teaching laboratories in 2012 https://news.liv.ac.uk/2012/08/17/new-23m-central-teaching-laboratory-unveiled/
  5. The University of Sheffield Information Commons contains a whole range of study experiences within one spectacular location and it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/undergraduate/why/info-commons

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