James catered students “dissatisfied”

Photo credit: Aggie Torrance

Photo credit: Aggie Torrance

Students living in catered accommodation in James College are dissatisfied with several aspects of the service they are receiving, a Customer Satisfaction Survey has shown.

Students were most dissatisfied with the menu variety at dinner, according to the survey, which scored 5.52 out of 10 on the scale.
Value for money was the part of service students were second least satisfied with, rating it at 5.79. Value for money was also rated as one of the more important factors, scoring 8.82 out of 10.

A total of 121 students, representing 51 per cent of those who are catered for in the Roger Kirk Centre, were asked to rate levels of satisfaction between 1 and 10, ranging from extremely dissatisfied to extremely satisfied. Students were also asked to rate the importance of different aspects of the catered service to them.

Student dissatisfaction with value for money brings into question the rise in rent for catered accommodation seen in the last year.
The cost of catered accommodation rose by five per cent for the 2011/12 academic year, and will again for 2012/13. Those who move into James College in October, who will be the first year to pay the new £9000 tuition fees, will pay £122.01 a week, up from £116.20 in 2011/12.

The survey showed that 43 per cent of students had selected catered accommodation as it was the only option available. This comes despite the University’s expansion of catered accommodation in James College last year.
Members of the Senior Management team have previously informed Nouse that such increases in catered accommodation were owing to high student demand.

Students were also shown to be unhappy with the quality of food. This was rated at 5.88 for dinner and 5.99 for breakfast.
Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, described the results as “concerning”, adding, “it is especially interesting to see information on why students ended up in catered accommodation.”

However, levels of satisfaction were highest when rating the administration of the service, with the four areas of administration given a satisfaction rating of between 8.09 and 9.04. In terms of overall satisfaction, the survey revealed an average score of 6.35. Commercial Services described their failure to meet their target of 7.5 as “very disappointing”. In total, of the 18 questions asked in the survey, 13 received a score below this target.

In a document providing feedback on the survey, Commercial Services stated: “It appears we have [a] considerable amount of work to do.”
New measures have since been implemented in response to the disappointing results, including additions to the menu to improve variety for vegetarian students, and a new cooking system to improve the freshness of the food.

Ian Dickson, recently appointed as Deputy Executive Chief, will also become responsible for monitoring food standards.In an email to students, Neil Lunt, James College Provost, stated that a focus group will also be set up between Phil Kember, Head of Hospitality, the University Head Chef and student and staff representatives to discuss the issues raised in the survey.

Hughes added: “I welcome the changes the University are working on, and the focus group that is being arranged, but we need to look at this issue in much greater depth.”

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