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UK student satisfaction hits 10-year high

Exterior of Corpus Christi college in Cambridge

12 August 2014

The satisfaction rate for students at UK universities and colleges has hit a 10-year high – with 86 per cent saying they are satisfied overall with their course, in this year's National Student Survey (NSS).

Satisfaction has either improved since 2013 or stayed the same in each of the seven categories covered by the survey. In particular, teaching, academic support and learning resources have all improved in 2014.

Only 7 per cent of students were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their UK higher education experience in 2014, while 5 per cent were dissatisfied and only 2 per cent were strongly dissatisfied.

'Record levels of student satisfaction'

Around 321,000 final-year students responded to this year’s survey. A record number of universities and colleges from across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales took part (156 higher education institutions, 166 further education colleges and three private higher education providers).

The results are used by universities, colleges, students’ unions and others to improve teaching and learning quality, learning resources and academic support – areas which are fundamental to students’ academic experience. They also provide valuable information for prospective students.

Professor Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: ‘I’m delighted to see record levels of student satisfaction this year, as well as marked improvements in satisfaction with assessment and feedback over the last decade.

‘The NSS is the largest survey of its kind in the UK. Over the last 10 years it has helped over 2 million students to make their voices heard about the things that matter to them, and has been fundamental to driving change in our universities and colleges. In a period of technological advance, internationalisation and funding reforms, the NSS will continue to enable students’ views to be heard and to stimulate innovation and excellence in teaching and learning in our universities and colleges.’

A summary table of results is below. More detailed data are available.

2014 National Student Survey results for the UK







The teaching on my course




Assessment and feedback




Academic support




Organisation and management




Learning resources




Personal development




Overall satisfaction



Find out more about the National Student Survey here.

Want to find out about satisfaction levels for your chosen university or college course?

Unistats is the official site to compare data and information on university and college courses across the UK. The site draws together information on areas that students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. It draws on the following official data about higher education courses:

   •  student satisfaction (from the National Student Survey)
   •  student destinations on finishing their course (from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education
   •  how courses are taught and study patterns
   •  how courses are assessed
   •  course accreditation
   •  course costs (such as tuition fees and accommodation).

The Unistats website will be updated with the 2014 NSS results on 28 August (until 28 August, it includes the 2013 NSS results).

Student experiences

Daizi from China, MA in journalism

‘One thing I love in the UK is that the teacher doesn’t just stand at the front and speak to students; we have to think for ourselves and come up with our own ideas and discuss them in class. The tutors guide us to improve our projects and let us make the final decisions. It’s really improved my confidence and my personal skills.’



Satomi from Japan, PhD in Biochemistry

'My parents couldn’t believe the help there was for international students in the UK, and I knew straight away I wanted to come back here. I now think that it is down to the historical traditions in the UK for systems such as ethics, healthcare, and the way they look at society – that’s why I feel so at home. It’s so international, and a great family atmosphere.'


Luke from the USA, BA in Theology

'What I loved about student life was being able to converse with the wide range of individuals. The mesh of ethnic, religious, political and philosophical backgrounds created a wonderful learning experience. Student life is a diverse and wonderful thing in the UK.

'What is it like studying here? It is incredible. The world of academia is vast – you have the opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in the world and have access to extravagant resources.'

Sibylle from Germany, BA in Management Science and Economics

'I was surprised to get so much support and advice from staff, tutors and lecturers. I know that many of my friends overseas have to wait up to a few weeks to get a response if they have an email enquiry, or faced bureaucratic burdens – I have experienced nothing of this sort in the UK.

'Whenever I had any questions or concerns, everybody at university was more than happy to advise me on curriculum choices, personal problems or clarify course content face-to-face. The amount of support within my degree is probably one of the best experiences I’ve had.'

Read more student stories here or find out more about UK higher education.