National Student Survey 2012 and Unistats website

27 September 2012

Commenting on the Key Information Sets website and the National Student Survey data Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“All Russell Group universities work hard to ensure that they continue to have high levels of student satisfaction and low drop-out rates - we have some of the best university completion rates in the world and high student satisfaction compared to other global institutions. The fact that Russell Group universities receive an 87% student satisfaction level in this year’s National Student Survey is a strong endorsement from students of their experience.

“The combination of teaching and research excellence in our universities creates the ideal learning environment. Our students engage in research processes, work with the leading experts in their field, have access to first-rate libraries and facilities, and are part of a highly motivated and talented peer group.

“This intellectually stimulating research-intensive environment produces ‘work-ready’ graduates who are highly adaptable to new work environments and able to learn new information and skills very quickly. Indeed, our graduates are among the most sought after worldwide. Employers rank 10 Russell Group universities in the top 30 universities in the world, and Russell Group graduates receive on average a 10% salary ‘top-up’ over those from other universities.

“We welcome anything which makes it easier for prospective students to make choices about which university they would like to study at and the new Unistats website will be a useful addition. But it is important to remember that all data can have its limitations and we urge students to read up on courses, go to open days and talk to careers advisers and others to find out what degree course will suit them.

“The student workload, including both scheduled teaching and private study, is rightly demanding at Russell Group universities. But learning at university is a very different experience from learning at school and different disciplines will require different ways of learning.

“Some subjects, for example Medicine, require a high number of contact hours, but the same approach simply wouldn’t be appropriate for students in many arts and humanities subjects. Students learn in ways that are hard to quantify and they are supported and steered through their studies. There are many different ways in which Russell Group staff support students’ learning, and not all of them are counted within the Key Information Set use for the Unistats website. For example many lecturers operate an ‘open door’ policy where students can get help and advice outside lectures or tutorials.

“Our universities have invested a considerable amount of time and resources in Key Information Sets, which are a new initiative, and it will be important that it is properly reviewed to determine how useful it is to students, especially before it is extended further to cover postgraduate courses.”

Notes to editors

  1. The HESA statistics published in March show for young full-time first degree entrants an average continuation rate at Russell Group universities of 96.5% compared to 92.8% for the UK as a whole.  For all full time first degree entrants the average continuation rate at Russell Group universities is 95.9% compared to 91.4% for the UK as a whole. 
  2. In the US the comparable continuation rate is 72.2% (Enrolment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2010; Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2010; and Graduation Rates, Selected Cohorts, 2002–07”, National centre for Education Statistics, US Department of Education, March 2012.)  The most recent OECD data published in 2009 showed that the UK’s degree completion rates were amongst the highest of any OECD country.  
  3. Data from IGRAD in the Russell Group publication Staying on Top shows that Russell Group universities are “performing well against their international competitors on almost all the aspects of student experience most valued by international students, such as good teaching, course content, and expert lecturers.”


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