Schools with active campuses, strong industry links trump peers in student experience poll
College football fans cheer before a game. Campus events factored strongly in student ratings on study experience. Pic: Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock

Universities with close ties to industries and active campuses took the lead in a new ranking on student experience, leaving old guards behind in the process.

Harper Adams University topped the Times Higher Education (THE) Student Experience Survey (SES) 2017 due to its overall performance in all 22 aspects surveyed, ranging from academic and societal experience, as well as school facilities.

Vice-chancellor David Llewellyn described his institution’s placing in the SES as a “brilliant result”, saying it was “fantastic to see that students rate the university so highly”.

The specialist agricultural school shone particularly in the area of industry links, with its students required to train one year off-campus, while highly-skilled industry leaders are employed to teach on campus.

“Brexit will change many things in farming, so we need to produce professionals who are capable of applying the latest techniques learned in the classroom to practical problems,” Llewellyn adds.

Loughborough University, University of SheffieldUniversity of Leeds and University of Surrey took the remaining top five spots on the rankings, thanks to their lively campus community experience.

Loughborough, which came in first overall last year, took first place for sports this year, as well as for its extracurricular activities, high-quality facilities and the finding that its students were highly likely to recommend the school to their friends.

Year 2014’s winner University of Sheffield, was ranked first in this year’s survey for its student union, and at joint first for its new £81 million Diamond study hub and older £23 million Information Commons library, along with Brunel University London and the University of East Anglia, among others.

This led THE to conclude that if universities built the facilities, students would naturally follow.

Wyn Morgan, Sheffield’s pro vice-chancellor for learning and teaching, said the school’s student union creates “opportunities beyond the classroom”, which contributed significantly to the “life-changing experience” enjoyed by students.

Morgan also pointed to Sheffield’s up-to-date response to the “changing learning needs” of students so they could “engage better with their studies”.

Fixtures of past years’ surveys fell from their top spots, such as the University of Cambridge, University of Bath and University of Dundee, overtaken by new favourites from Northern Ireland, such as Queen’s University Belfast, which placed at 10th place for its first entry, as well as Ulster University.

The distance-learning Open University occupied the bottom of the rankings of 122 universities, due probably to the fact that most of its students study off-campus and do not go through the same campus-based life as other schools.

The rankings are based on 15,000 undergraduates’ ratings of their universities across 22 measures. The students were asked to rate each measure on a seven-point scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”.

Here are the top twenty schools in THE’s Student Experience Survey 2017:

Rank University name Overall score
1 Harper Adams University 85.8
2 Loughborough University 85.4
3 University of Sheffield 83.2
4 University of Leeds 82.6
5 University of Surrey 82.5
6 Falmouth University 82.3
7 University of Oxford 82.1
8 Newcastle University 82
9 Queen’s University Belfast 81.9
10 Keele University 81.5
11 Edge Hill University 81.4
12 Bangor University 81.2
13 University of St Andrews 80.9
13 University of Bath 80.9
15 University of Chester 80.8
15 University of Dundee 80.8
15 University of East Anglia 80.8
18 Royal Veterinary College 80.7
18 University of Reading 80.7
20 University of Birmingham 80.6

Source: THE

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