The latest National Student Survey shows many courses at or near the very highest levels of satisfaction… but it also shows that UAL has disappointed students in some important respects.
Overall satisfaction has dropped from 74% to 71%, although satisfaction with teaching is up 1%. Indeed, the score for overall satisfaction is lower than the average satisfaction level across all other indicators. Almost 30% of our students are telling us that, taken as a whole, their experience at UAL didn’t live up to expectations. This matters a lot. We all need to work with our students to ensure there is a strong academic and creative experience at UAL.
I have therefore asked Philip Broadhead, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), to work with Pro Vice-Chancellors and follow up a range of College, School and course initiatives which were agreed last month.
We are well placed to help improve these scores. A number of actions are already underway. In 2013, we put in place a targeted programme, called Making A Difference, for courses with low levels of satisfaction of 60% or less. Encouragingly, this markedly improved results for nearly all participating courses, and we will deploy it again this year for the 20 courses with overall satisfaction levels below 60%.
We have introduced anonymous student evaluation for all units and a new academic support structure, including Academic Support online. Colleges have improved communication between staff and students, feedback turnaround times and access to equipment. We will also put major investment into the student experience through the UAL strategy for 2015-2020, which will be launched soon.
I know many members of staff have worked hard for some time to improve the student experience, and may be frustrated by the recent NSS results. We are doing the right things, and they will work.
In the meantime, I want to make two points on early action and responsibility.
First, we must ensure that students see that we respond to their feedback quickly. This means showing that we are listening, taking immediate action to identify their concerns, and – crucially – telling them when the problem has been resolved. We cannot wait for the National Student Survey at the end of the degree in order to listen to our students.
Second, wherever we work and whatever we do, each of us contributes to the student experience. This is not something which happens in a different part of the university, or only with teaching staff, or just because of management. Our students have delivered a clear message on what they expect from UAL as a whole. Please help to reassure them we are each listening to them and will address their concerns.