York has been ranked as 37th in the UK for student experience in a survey by Times Higher Education. Although it is an improvement from 61st last year it is still a disappointing result for a Russell Group University, regularly ranked in the top 15 in the country overall.
In contrast the city’s second university, York St John, which falls well behind in other statistics, was ranked ninth in the UK for student experience.
The new ranking raises further questions over the University’s stance on issues such as accommodation, teaching and their general approach to students.
York has struggled in recent years in the student experience rankings, and some would suggest this is down to a focus on the expansion and other projects rather than students themselves.
The University of East Anglia topped the rankings overall, with Oxford coming second. It has been suggested before that lower ranking universities tend to do better for student satisfaction but the presence of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Lancaster in the top ten show it is possible to be ranked highly overall and for student satisfaction.
A spokesperson for the University said that York was making progress and expects this to continue: “We have made a substantial improvement in the THE Student Experience Survey 2013. We believe that trend will continue as the extensive infrastructure improvements such as the Library refurbishment and the York Sport Village bed in. Our programme of refurbishment of student accommodation will also continue with James A, B and C blocks due to be refurbished this summer, and further improvements planned for 2014.”
YUSU President, Kallum Taylor commented: “Whilst we’re well aware that the University really needs to improve its offering of the ‘student experience’, coming 37th is a surprise for all the wrong reasons. It’s going to be tougher and tougher for Universities to compete in the UK and this is exactly why we’ve been banging on about the Student Experience for a while now.”
He added: “It’s the total package that counts now and it goes far beyond the classroom. We need to do a whole lot more in creating the conditions and opportunities for our members to hit their potential. YUSU can play a big role here if the University allow us to do so, and to their credit I know they’re listening. We’re working together on putting together a strategy dedicated to this, and we’ve just got to make sure it means something more than another fancy report to roll out at meetings.”