"Students doubt fees value for money" BBC Reports Watch

Roving Fish
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(Original post by BBC News)
Many students are unconvinced they have received value for money from their university courses, according to an annual survey.

And a large majority do not think they have been given enough information about how tuition fees are spent.

The survey suggests students average 12 hours per week "contact" time, when they are taught by staff.The findings are part of a survey of 15,000 students in the UK, carried out by higher education think tanks.

The Student Academic Experience Survey, carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute and the Higher Education Academy, examines levels of consumer satisfaction among undergraduate students.

Information gap

The survey suggests 59% of students are "fairly satisfied" with their course - and a further 28% are "very satisfied".

But, with "the benefit of hindsight", more than a third said they would have chosen a different course. That represents about half a million students with regrets about their choice, say the researchers.

Less than half of the students believed they had had good or very good value for money from their courses - but there were big differences between the students in England and Scotland.

Only 7% of the students in England, where tuition fees are up to £9,000 per year, said they had received "very good" value, compared with 35% in Scotland, where there no tuition fees.

The survey found a widespread view the students were not being told enough about how tuition fees were being spent - with three-quarters saying the information was insufficient.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said this information gap was one of the most striking findings of the survey and that universities would have to respond.

"If it doesn't happen soon, it could be forced on universities by policymakers," he said.

Contact hours

The survey examined students' hours when they were taught by staff. There was an average of 12 hours "contact time" across all subjects, but some arts and humanities courses had eight hours per week.

Across all subjects, an average of three hours per week were spent in classes of 15 students or less, with the rest of students' classes being taught in larger groups.

"Course quality depends on more than contact hours and class size, but students do care deeply about these issues. They are notably less satisfied when they have fewer than 10 contact hours and classes of over 50 students," said Mr Hillman.

For many subjects, a majority of students' course time is "independent study", where students are expected to work on projects alone.

Stephanie Marshall, chief executive at the Higher Education Academy, said the study showed "high levels of overall student satisfaction".

But she also highlighted that it showed "the relatively high numbers who do not feel supported in independent study".

She said that "providing guidance and structure outside timetabled sessions is key here".

Students were also asked where any cuts in spending should fall.The most popular options for cuts were to spend less on sports facilities and new buildings, while the areas where students wanted the least cuts were hours of teaching and learning facilities.

"This survey confirms that there is a clear link between higher education funding systems and student perceptions about value for money," said Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the Million+ group of universities.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-32991494
As a student rep, I've sat in many meetings where fees are brought up and contested. What are your views? Did you get your value for money?
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claireestelle
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i only pay 3500 as i m a welsh student but would be annoyed paying 9k for my course, got sent home early from lectures a bit much and many times they dont meet the 15 day feedback deadline.
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Bill_Gates
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Yes it's great value for money in comparison to other "investments" in society. Is paying 400k for a 1 bedroom flat in London, good value for money? Surely not.Knowledge is the higher purpose, further investment into education is required and HIGHER tuition fees are needed. Those who genuinely want to learn will go and those who don't will not waste 3 years.
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midnightice
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You're being told to pay £9000 a year, only to then be told to purchase a text book and essentially self-study from that. It is not value for money at all.
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alyalyaly
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(Original post by Bill_Gates)
Yes it's great value for money in comparison to other "investments" in society. Is paying 400k for a 1 bedroom flat in London, good value for money? Surely not.Knowledge is the higher purpose, further investment into education is required and HIGHER tuition fees are needed. Those who genuinely want to learn will go and those who don't will not waste 3 years.
God no. Can we not punish poor people and create a tonne of debt when the unis are already bordering on being too expensive anyway? >.<
Cost of the uni =/= quality of the uni.

(Compare the quality of UK universities and American universities. In general the quality won't be too much different, but American universities will charge a tonne more. Extra fees solves nothing)
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yabbayabba
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This is definitely true. Universities need to up their game now they're charging such extortionate fees. When university was free, the whole "independent study" argument had a lot more weight; but seeing as it's a lot more of an investment for the individual student, universities really need to do more. They need to offer more support when a student is struggling and they need to provide more contact hours for the humanities and social sciences. Why universities use tuition fees for sporting facilities is beyond me; that's not the main purpose of higher education.
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AffirmedCube
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What exactly is the 27k per student being spent on? I'm beyond baffled.
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Snufkin
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Of course students aren't getting value for money. Higher fees aren't being used to improve facilities or hire more staff - our 9k fees are essentially plugging the gap left by government funding cuts. We pay more but get same standard of education that pre-2010 students had.
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BrainDrain
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Was just reading this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-32821678 and although the headline refers to US students it applies to UK too. With lessons taught in English I can see this becoming a very attractive alternative to our currently expensive system.
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contradicta
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You start changing these amounts and students are going to expect better quality than a free education... we are consumers now
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BrainDrain
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Not quite sure how Buckingham University works out cost wise, they run two year degree courses, but they are probably worth a look for those who are cost conscious and can manage without the long vacation breaks.
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Racoon
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(Original post by midnightice)
You're being told to pay £9000 a year, only to then be told to purchase a text book and essentially self-study from that. It is not value for money at all.
Exactly this.
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Racoon
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(Original post by BrainDrain)
Not quite sure how Buckingham University works out cost wise, they run two year degree courses, but they are probably worth a look for those who are cost conscious and can manage without the long vacation breaks.
That would make much more sense. A lot of time is wasted.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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I think I got value for money but I was under the £3K system and had a lot more contact time than most arts degrees tend to. As much as I love music as a subject, I would not have wanted to end up paying back £27K (plus interest) on fees alone, on a music degree. Unless it was somewhere with decent, above average contact time...
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FrostShot
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With university, you're paying for a job qualification more than an education a lot of the time.

The way I see it, we should be able to take tests for university level qualifications without actually having to enroll in the university and stay there for a couple years and dish out tens of thousands of pounds for it.

That way, people can actually self study the course if they don't think university is too helpful instead of being given the two options of

a) Coughing up 27,000 pounds for something that doesn't help that much in the first place
b) Lacking the qualifications for the job they want.

Of course, they'd still need to contribute some money to administering the test and the marking time, but they should be given the option to avoid a 9000 pound payment for tuition if they don't think it's necessary, and they are sufficient with fully self studying the course.

Now, there's a third option

c) Self study and pay a small fee that is just a fraction of the university test, like you pay to your A level and GCSE exam boards for administering the test.

An analogy is not allowing state school and home schooled students to take A level exams or GCSE tests, which sounds ridiculous, but it's how the system is at the moment.

TL;DR
The qualifications test and learning the course and enrolling in the university should be bundled separately.
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cBay
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(Original post by BrainDrain)
Was just reading this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-32821678 and although the headline refers to US students it applies to UK too. With lessons taught in English I can see this becoming a very attractive alternative to our currently expensive system.
I was devastated when I found out that courses were available for free or very cheaply in other countries across Europe and I was entitled to it just as much as their own citizens were. Colleges and sixth forms seem so keen to hide this information from us. The fact many even teach in English makes it even more mind-blowing that I missed out on this opportunity, although I would have probably tried to do it in their language anyway.

As previously said, if there is a massive increase in price, then you expect at least some improvement in standards but this isn't the case. The lecturers are exactly that, many have no teaching ability whatsoever, and as also previously said, 90% of it boils down to self study. The way I see it, I'm paying for the qualification rather than the education.

The argument that the UK has higher standards of university's also doesn't stand up. Sure, Cambridge and Oxford are two of the best uni's in the world, but how many of us go to those uni's? Russell Group uni's are approximately equivalent to their counterparts in other European countries, and the rest are just cannon fodder. Are you seriously telling me that I can't get at least the same standard of education, if not better, elsewhere in Europe for much cheaper?

Going back to the person I quoted, your name is very appropiate. Brain Drain is exactly what will happen when our young people are made aware of the opportunities abroad.
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BrainDrain
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(Original post by cBay)
I was devastated when I found out that courses were available for free or very cheaply in other countries across Europe and I was entitled to it just as much as their own citizens were. Colleges and sixth forms seem so keen to hide this information from us. The fact many even teach in English makes it even more mind-blowing that I missed out on this opportunity, although I would have probably tried to do it in their language anyway.

As previously said, if there is a massive increase in price, then you expect at least some improvement in standards but this isn't the case. The lecturers are exactly that, many have no teaching ability whatsoever, and as also previously said, 90% of it boils down to self study. The way I see it, I'm paying for the qualification rather than the education.

The argument that the UK has higher standards of university's also doesn't stand up. Sure, Cambridge and Oxford are two of the best uni's in the world, but how many of us go to those uni's? Russell Group uni's are approximately equivalent to their counterparts in other European countries, and the rest are just cannon fodder. Are you seriously telling me that I can't get at least the same standard of education, if not better, elsewhere in Europe for much cheaper?

Going back to the person I quoted, your name is very appropiate. Brain Drain is exactly what will happen when our young people are made aware of the opportunities abroad.
It's a bit too late for me but studying abroad does look to be a very tempting alternative for those due to start this year and onwards. Just the excitement of a new country and the challenge of picking up another language along the way would swing it for me let alone the attraction of not accumulating a mountain of debt. I also think it would look great on your CV by demonstrating you show initiative and flare, and the courses are all in English too. Would be nice if anyone on here had actually gone through the experience and could give us a little insight as to how they went on
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Helloworld_95
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I'd say it's good value for money. In terms of job prospects chances are you'll make more than that back or you won't pay back all of it any way because of how the PAYE system works.
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Magdatrix >_<
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(Original post by claireestelle)
i only pay 3500 as i m a welsh student but would be annoyed paying 9k for my course, got sent home early from lectures a bit much and many times they dont meet the 15 day feedback deadline.


Let me tell you about marking turnaround deadlines.

Imagine the scenario: You have a cohort of 300+ students, each submitting a 4000 word paper. You have about 10 teaching-staff to mark these, half of whom are PhD students, half of whom are full-time lecturers - all of whom only get about 6 hours per week allocated to work associated with that particular module (bear in mind that if the marking is mid-semester, at least 5 of these hours will already be taken up with contact time). Each paper can take up to an hour to mark. Oh, and what was previously a 4-week turnaround rule has recently become a 3-week turnaround rule (which actually gives the markers 2 weeks or less to mark the papers, due to the loss of a couple of days at either side for the admin people to do their part). So less than two weeks to mark 30 papers (That's 15 papers per hour (1000 words a minute) if contact hours are still ongoing - just to READ them, thus, the marking becomes evening/midnight/weekend/5am work). And then there's moderation: every single paper which is given a first or a fail, plus a random selection of a certain proportion of the rest are re-distributed to undergo some form of second-marking/consistency-checking. So that's another pile on top of the 30 you just had.

You work every hour you can to pull it off, and still sometimes you just can't.

Admittedly as a student I occasionally grumbled about this, though I've always acknowledged that that was due to my own impatience! But after seeing the behind-the-scenes in my current work, I can tell you that it takes a hell of a lot of time and effort to turn around an assignment.
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claireestelle
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(Original post by Magdatrix >_<)
Let me tell you about marking turnaround deadlines.

Imagine the scenario: You have a cohort of 300+ students, each submitting a 4000 word paper. You have about 10 teaching-staff to mark these, half of whom are PhD students, half of whom are full-time lecturers - all of whom only get about 6 hours per week allocated to work associated with that particular module (bear in mind that if the marking is mid-semester, at least 5 of these hours will already be taken up with contact time). Each paper can take up to an hour to mark. Oh, and what was previously a 4-week turnaround rule has recently become a 3-week turnaround rule (which actually gives the markers 2 weeks or less to mark the papers, due to the loss of a couple of days at either side for the admin people to do their part). So less than two weeks to mark 30 papers (That's 15 papers per hour (1000 words a minute) if contact hours are still ongoing - just to READ them, thus, the marking becomes evening/midnight/weekend/5am work). And then there's moderation: every single paper which is given a first or a fail, plus a random selection of a certain proportion of the rest are re-distributed to undergo some form of second-marking/consistency-checking. So that's another pile on top of the 30 you just had.

You work every hour you can to pull it off, and still sometimes you just can't.

Admittedly as a student I occasionally grumbled about this, though I've always acknowledged that that was due to my own impatience! But after seeing the behind-the-scenes in my current work, I can tell you that it takes a hell of a lot of time and effort to turn around an assignment.
I realise it takes a lot of work to mark work and I wouldnt mind if they were honest and said they couldnt do it in 15 days or made it more like 4 weeks or longer to help with their workloads.To be honest my complaint wasnt meant to be directed at lectures in general just the ones on my course that dont always handle just the 40 students there are in my cohort, baring in mind 3 assignment markers they supposedly allocated to each assignment.

The majority of lecturers only teach on my course(which is just lectures two days a week max) so teach around 150 people over the course of the week(when you include teaching all the students across three years)sometimes less depending on the module. I d completely understand if there were more people on my course. But not being able to mark 12-15 peoples work over 3 weeks when you say that you could be expected to do that in an hour makes my lecturers sound awful.

Out of 12 assignments, for 3 of them they emailed the day before we were expecting feedback to say sorry we cant do it when one would think they d have realised sooner that they wouldn't be able to do it, that was my main problem really. As students you cant request an extension the day before in most circumstances so felt a little annoyed lecturers could say 24 hours before that they couldn't do something themselves. So i just felt this to be a little unprofessional of them
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