When it comes to searching for the right university, prospective students are bombarded with numbers: attendance statistics, student-to-staff ratios, tuition fees, and post-graduation employment percentages, just to name a few. In addition to proving that a university is a quality institution, these markers are meant to convince prospective students to enroll at that particular institution.
Of course, numbers only tell half the story. No chart or dataset can paint a true picture of the student experience at any given university – except, perhaps, for the student satisfaction ranking. The respected QS World University Rankings agrees: “…student satisfaction has a dramatic impact on the perceived identity of the institution, and therefore a direct effect on the success of student recruitment efforts.”
Student satisfaction ratings allow participants to reflect and provide honest feedback on their university experience. In turn, student satisfaction also affects performance. Unsurprisingly, those who are happier with their chosen institution tend to earn better grades, build more effective relationships with teachers and fellow students, attend classes more often, and land better jobs after graduation.
But what factors influence student satisfaction? According to a study on the link between student satisfaction and performance, “Students are satisfied with student life when their faculty is adequately equipped with the technology necessary for teaching, and when there is a good interaction between the teachers and students in class.” Needless to say, student satisfaction is one of the most important indicators of a university’s quality, because it encompasses other areas like the quality of facilities, accommodation, teaching, and student life.
Let’s take a look at some of the top, business-facing universities with outstanding rates of student satisfaction…
The award-winning School of Electronic Engineering at Bangor University has an excellent track record in student satisfaction. Not only did Bangor University place in the top 15 UK universities for student satisfaction and fourth for academic support in 2016, but also the school is consistently rated in the top 5 for student satisfaction in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Furthermore, Bangor University has the longest-standing electronic engineering department in the UK, being the first university to introduce electronic engineering as a separate discipline. As an innovative leader in the field, the electronic engineering program at BU allows its students to conduct research in niche areas, including organic electronics, medical electronics and optoelectronics.
Bangor is also highly inclusive of international students. Shammi Rahman, a Bangladeshi national enrolled in the Electronic Engineering program, says, “Our lecturers are really good at what they do. They are very helpful and would generally go to the trouble of explaining the topics to you after a lecture if you did not quite get it.”
It comes as no surprise that BU students are among the most satisfied in the UK, considering that BU is situated five minutes away from both coastal and mountainous terrain. Students are encouraged to connect with nature through outdoor activities like zip wiring, mountain climbing and biking, hiking, and sailing.
Bangor University is also planning a new £7 million research programme focused on low carbon energy and will offer new modules, research opportunities, and links to the surrounding energy generation industry. The school calls it, “a significant investment in a new generation.” As well as these low-carbon developments there will be new opportunities for students to learn at the interface between engineering and design in collaboration with Pontio Innovation.
In 2016, the University of Nottingham boasted a student satisfaction rating of 90 percent for the fourth year in a row. The Times and Sunday Times called Nottingham “Britain’s only truly global university.” And for good reason – it’s one of the most popular study abroad destinations for international students in the UK. This is all thanks to what the university calls “The Nottingham Edge” – “an unrivaled combination of quality and excellence, strength and pragmatism, enabled learning, boldness and innovation, respect and tolerance.” Students can find evidence of the Nottingham Edge in facilities like the Nottingham Tennis Centre, which offers sauna and steam facilities in addition to sporting equipment.
As we’ve already seen, satisfied students perform better. This is definitely true for Nottingham students. Just last week, Dafne Gaviria Arcila, a doctoral student on NU’s engineering program, won the Amelia Earhart Fellowship for her role in optimizing the performance of new aero-engines. She’s one of just 35 women to receive the fellowship each year.
Edinburgh was voted the best city to live in the UK for the third year in a row in 2016. In 2017, it placed second worldwide for quality of life. Edinburgh is also considered a global hub for culture and entertainment. Some events in and around the city include theatre performances, gourmet restaurants, international festivals, and green spaces, just to name a few.
Considering these outstanding achievements, it’s no surprise that the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh has performed so well. In fact, it’s considered “the UK powerhouse of Engineering,” and that title manifests itself in student work. A team of students from Edinburgh’s engineering program recently won the TRADA Student Design Competition. Another team from the University of Edinburgh won the competition in 2014, and several Edinburgh students have been finalists in recent years.
In 2016, the University of Exeter tied for 11th place in the Times Higher Education student satisfaction ratings. It’s no wonder students at Exeter are SO satisfied with their overall experience – the work they do impacts the world in a profound way. The proof is in the college’s research initiatives, which include tracking climate change, diagnosing malaria, creating clean and sustainable water sources, and treating brain disease. At Exeter, research and classroom education go hand-in-hand, and modules are modeled after the current research undertaken by Exeter’s lecturers.
Areas of research within the Engineering program include Business and Climate Solutions, Energy and the Environment, and Computational Geomechanics, among many more. Students can also combine their engineering studies with other disciplines, including finance, business, and management.
Need more evidence that Exeter is a great choice for overall student satisfaction? Just ask J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter and University of Exeter alumnus. She graduated with a BA in French and Classics.
Perhaps one of the reasons the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle is ranked 30th in the world is because 93 percent of students find employment within four months of graduation. Or maybe it’s because they ranked no. 1 in Australia for overall student satisfaction and graduate skill level. Or maybe it’s because their students work on award-winning projects like moving prosthetic hands, Formula One race cars, and robots that play football. Or maybe it’s because the faculty hosts community events like the Science and Engineering Challenge to encourage people outside the university to get involved in engineering. Whatever it is, the Faculty of University and Built Environment at Newcastle provides students with the work opportunities and industry connections that will ensure a long, successful career in electronic or electrical engineering.
Although rankings, statistics, and figures are important for assessing the quality of an academic institution, none is as important as the student satisfaction rating. This rating encompasses everything a university has to offer, including accommodation, facilities, teaching quality, sports and societies, and much more. The student satisfaction system also gives students a voice, a platform to assess their overall university experience in an honest, explicit way. After all, nothing else can give prospective students a clear idea of what university life is really like.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International