According to a survey by educational charity Jisc, 27% of students are using social networking sites to contact their tutors outside of regular contact hours.

Facebook was found to be most popular form of communication used by students as an online platform to communicate with academics, with 85% of those who took part in the study claiming to have used the social networking site to contact university staff.

Out of the 500 students from various universities who took part, 36% of people also said that they used Twitter and 23% used Whatsapp.

The survey also found that 32% of students say technology played a part in their choice of university, and that more than a quarter use their smartphones to edit essays. Some 20% said that they would like to see more mobile devices provided on campus to make studying easier.

Increasingly, academics are using social networking to showcase their research or to share further readings with students. Research carried out by Jisc in 2013 found that academic staff seemed mostly in favour of social media as a learning tool: 70% of academics questioned agreed that its use enhances the quality of the learning experience. Youtube was favoured above others, as staff are able to upload and share videos.

Jisc said: “Higher education providers need to ensure that they are tech savvy and that education technology is at the very top of their agenda to secure the future of their institution”.

A less serious result from the study: the survey also found that more than half of students were happy to have some of their lectures delivered by robots. More than a third were interested in virtual lectures and having dedicated mobile apps to help them study.