The 2016 Times Higher Education (THE) Student Experience Survey has revealed that UEA has been ranked seventh for student satisfaction by students.

The survey, which was taken by 15,000 students across the country, asked students for their feedback and opinions on 21 aspects of university life. These included quality of staff and lectures, quality of extra-curricular activities and quality of welfare and support provisions.

The THE survey is an important part of the UK university landscape. John Gill, editor of Times Higher Education, said: “Increasing competition between universities and an intense focus on the student experience are still top of the agenda for the higher education sector. Our survey is perfectly placed to track what this means in practice, and which universities are performing well in specific areas, whether in teaching and learning, or areas such as the standard of facilities, in which many institutions have been investing heavily.”

The survey, now in its 11th year, showed a positive overall picture for UEA, with the university maintaining a top-ten position for the seventh consecutive year, and coming top in the country for the quality of “environment on campus/around university”.

[su_spoiler title=”Is the Times Higher Education survey actually representative?” style=”simple” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Comment”]The Times Higher Education (THE) Student Experience Survey, now in its 11th year, asks students to rate their university on 21 different measures, which range from the quality of the teaching and course structure, to their campus environment and social life. The institution’s ability and willingness to cater for students’ individual needs is also considered.

The survey approaches the question of student satisfaction in a very different way to the National Student Survey. It claims to focus on the issues that “students themselves have told us they value the most”. However, the methodology of the survey shows that 15,000 students, all full-time undergraduates, took part in providing the 2016 data. While this is a 4% increase on the previous year, it’s a number equivalent to the student body here at UEA – but spread between 21 institutions. This is less than 1% of the total UK undergraduate full-time student population. Can this really provide a representative and conclusive set of results?

THE certainly think so. They state that “as before, the respondents were not told the purpose of the survey and were not allowed to complete it more than once” as well as favourably comparing their sampling fraction with typical political opinion polls or large-scale government surveys. The sample size is also intended to limit the potential for data error. Only institutions with 50 or more respondents were entered into the survey, and 94 of the 117 institutions that met this requirement had over 100 respondents, representing an increase from 113 universities in last year’s survey. Each university’s score is also given a percentage of the maximum attainable score, which allows for better comparison between different institutions.
Jessica Frank-Keyes, News Co-Editor[/su_spoiler]

Commenting on the results, UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson said: “Students rightly have very high expectations when they come to university, so for UEA to perform so consistently well across all measures of the survey is great news. We’re among esteemed company in the top 10, and it’s testament to our thriving campus that it has been recognised as the best environment for students in the country. UEA does have something really special to offer to students and we will ensure this continues.”

UEA|SU’s welfare, community and diversity officer Jo Swo added that “Students here are thrilled that we’re again in the top ten at UEA. Whilst there’s always room for improvement we know students love the University, love the teaching, love the campus and love Norwich. There’s always something going on and students enjoy a rich partnership with the University which means that when something needs improvement, we work constructively to get things done.”

However, the university has seen a one place drop from last year’s survey, and a four place drop from 2013 when the university was ranked third in the country for overall student experience.