The University of East Anglia came top in the Times Higher Education’s Student Experience Survey today. This is their first time at the top of the list, although they have featured in the top ten every year since 2007/08. Check out some of the press clippings.
Ben Marks, Managing Director at YouthSight said, “We’re delighted to be running the fieldwork and analysis for this survey on behalf of Times Higher Education once again. Our congratulations go out to UEA for their clear commitment to providing a great student experience”.
Marks added, “We have been responsible for the fieldwork for the Times Higher Student Experience Survey survey since its inception in 2005. We would like to thank the Times Higher for their continued commitment to this important research, and funding the survey’s almost continual growth year on year since 2005. This year we have been able to ensure that (in terms of sample size). to increase the overall sample size
Facts and figures about the Student Experience research
- In total, more than 12,000 full-time undergraduates took part in this year’s polling. Data was collected from October to July 2012. All respondents were members of YouthSight’s Student Panel.
- As in previous years, respondents were not told the purpose of the polling (i.e. to determine the THE Student Experience Award) and they were only allowed to take the survey once. We believe these factors mitigate against the possibility of respondents artificially inflating scores in order to improve the performance of their institution. Equally, as institutions are unaware of which of their students is a member of The Student Panel and when invitations are sent out, it is highly unlikely that institutions themselves could influence the results.
- Although the 12,012 respondents to this poll make up only 0.5% of the UK full-time undergraduate population, this sampling fraction is actually relatively high in comparison with a typical political opinion poll or large-scale government survey; and more importantly, the overall sample size is large enough to generate only a small sampling error. This year, the number of institutions with a sample size of 100 or greater has increased from 85 last year to 90. As was the case last year, only institutions with a sample size of more than 50 were included in the final data set. A total of 102 institutions met this minimum sample threshold, based on responses from a total of 11,459 respondents.
- As in previous years, the student experience was broken down into 21 attributes and panel members were asked to rate how their university performed on each, using a seven point scale. These attributes were derived by asking 1,000 students to describe, unprompted and in their own words, how their university contributed to a positive and negative student experience. The verbatim results from this exercise were coded and formed the 21 attributes. Each attribute was assigned a weight dependent on its importance within the overall student experience. The weighting methodology was reviewed in 2008 to ensure its continued suitability, and this same weighting methodology has been used in the past four years.
- Each university’s score has been indexed to give a percentage of the maximum attainable score, allowing for more intuitive comparisons between universities. Of course, there will be no statistical significance in the scores of very similarly ranked universities. Nevertheless, the results are very stable year on year and we believe are effective at highlighting where best practice occurs and where certain universities have room for improvement.
- Like last year, we have calculated improvements in institutional performance from the data. These calculations were based on looking at changes between 2011 and 2012 in both overall scores and ranking for each university. An aggregate score was calculated for each institution based on the mean of their ranked ‘change in score’ and ranked ‘change in league table position’ between the two years.
Further methodological notes
All respondents who took part in this survey were members of The Student Panel, which is part of the OpinionPanel Community. All respondents had a verified academic ‘ac.uk’ email address. A new cohort is recruited to the panel annually via an email invitation sent by UCAS. This means there is very little systematic bias in the panel - almost the entire undergraduate student population has the opportunity to join. This greatly reduces the likelihood of sampling error. Respondents were given a small incentive for taking part, which is standard procedure for all surveys conducted by YouthSight.
Until 2011, only universities with a sample size of 30 or more respondents were included in the final analysis. For 2011 and 2012, the target sample size was changed so that only universities with a sample size of 50 or more respondents were included in the dataset. For the 2011-2012 comparison, only universities with over 50 ratings in both 2011 and 2012 respectively were included in calculations of changes in institutional performance.
The 2012 questionnaire was identical to previous years. It was based on Agree / Disagree responses on a 7 point scale to the following question; "Based on your experience, how strongly do you agree that your university offers the following? (post fieldwork scoring weights in brackets after each attribute); High quality staff/lectures (2); Helpful interested staff (2); Well -structured courses (2); Good social life (2); Good community atmosphere (2); Good environment on campus (2); Good extra-curricular activities (2); High quality facilities (2); Personal requirements catered for (2); Good student union (1.5); Good support/welfare (1.5); Good relationship with teaching staff (1.5); Centralised facilities (1.5), Industry connections (1.5); Good accommodation (1.5); Security (1.5); Cheap shop/bar (1); Tuition in small groups (1); Fair workload (1); Sports facilities (1); Library (1).