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After over 41,000 student reviews collected from 150 UK institutions, Loughborough wins University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) for the second time in three years, in a year of exceptionally high student rankings, dominance across awards categories for Post 92 institutions, and a new digital event format.

Loughborough University has achieved a record-breaking high score to take home the top prize at the 2020 WUSCAs. Their score of 4.58 out of 5, an all-time high for the WUSCAs, won the institution the University of the Year award for the second time in 2 years. The consistent performance of Loughborough University is a huge credit to their student-first approach and the victory formed the culmination of a unique digital event held via the Whatuni Twitter feed @Whatuni.

Post 92 universities largely outperformed their Russell Group counterparts in all categories of this year’s WUSCA. The University of Sheffield was the only Russell Group institution to make the shortlist for the University of the Year category, while both Newman University and Norwich University of the Arts entered the top 10 in the University of the Year category for the first time.

Similarly, the North of England, along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, made more appearances in the top 3 than those in the South of England, and the Royal Agricultural University alone represented the South in the University of the Year category. The majority of shortlisted institutions for University of the Year also excelled in other categories, the University of Wales Trinity St David taking first place for Course and Lecturers, Leeds Arts University winning Student Support and Aberystwyth taking the crown for the International category.

The WUSCAs are the only UK university awards with 13 categories determined entirely by student reviews, making them a key insight into how students studying in the UK perceive the nation’s institutions. A further 2 categories are awarded based on submissions that are judged by a Student Advisory Panel. Loughborough’s victory came in a year when the top 10 contenders for University of the Year have the highest combined average score, 4.45 out of 5, since 2017, a real positive for the sector in the context of a year which has posed unprecedented challenges and contrasts with some of the recent criticism of the sector.

For the third time, University Facilities received the impressive second-highest average score (4.10 out of 5) followed by Student Support and Courses and Lecturers which both came in with an average score of 4.00. In a year when the coronavirus pandemic has heightened concerns around mental health and many courses have needed to alter their delivery methods, these high rankings are a significant achievement.

Despite a year where factors outside of institutions’ control affected how their higher education experience was delivered, in the 41,000+ reviews collected for the 2020 WUSCAs, reports of dissatisfaction were lower across the board than in previous years. Even the categories with the lowest average scores, Student’s Unions with (3.817) and Accommodation (3.82), still indicated a positive reception from students. Positive reviews in the context of the recent challenges faced by institutions sends a promising message to both the higher education sector and for students about to embark on their university experience.

With Clearing now underway in an unprecedented year for prospective students, there is a critical need for independent peer reviews to help them make their higher education choices. With A-level results just around the corner and 2021 applicants researching their options, this data comes at a vital point in the decision making of students across the UK.

Commenting on the results of this year’s WUSCAs, Simon Emmett, CEO at IDP Connect, said: This year, high average review scores across all WUSCA categories demonstrate a widespread effort from UK institutions to both listen and respond to the needs of students. With the recent challenges facing the sector, to have obtained such high reports of satisfaction across all universities, including those outside of The Russell Group in key categories like Course and Lecturers, is a credit to the value and outstanding experience students feel they are receiving in their higher education. This is something the sector should be incredibly proud of achieving and these outstanding results would be welcomed in many other sectors during this difficult time.

Huge congratulations to Loughborough University for an outstanding year, the institution’s student-first approach has clearly been recognised and is reflected in their reviews. To all the institutions who either won a category, were shortlisted, or participated in the review collection process, thank you for your hard work ensuring that every student is provided with a quality higher education experience capable of unlocking their full potential.”

Notes For Editors:

For more information or to secure an interview with IDP Connect CEO, Simon Emmett, please contact Jonah Duffin, Director of External Relations, IDP Connect Jonah.duffin@idp-connect.com 

About the Whatuni Student Choice Awards – #WUSCA:

Now in their seventh year, the WUSCAs offer prospective students an unbiased, student-led alternative to traditional university ranking systems. This year was the first year where, instead of a physical event, the WUSCAs were held digitally via the Whatuni Twitter feed (@Whatuni). The WUSCAs are based on the reviews of students studying at UK institutions, with all aspects of student life being rated, in addition to 2 unique submissions-based categories which are judged by IDP Connect’s Student Advisory Panel. This year, more than 41,000 reviews across 150 institutions were submitted.

The reviews are a combination of electronic and physically collected reviews by the Whatuni team, who this year travelled 46,000 miles. The results are both quantitative (scores) and qualitative (free text).

The WUSCAs awards UK institutions based on student reviews across 13 categories relating to the student experience. This year those categories were; Accommodation, Job Prospects, Course & Lecturers, Students’ Union, University Facilities, Local Life, Societies & Sports, Student Support, International, Postgraduate, Further Education College and Independent Higher Education Provider. The top prize category “University of the Year” encompasses reviews from every aspect of the student experience.

For all review categories, institutions who enter must hit a review threshold depending on their size. To feature in the main table categories, institutions must have taught degree-awarding powers, and reach a review threshold based on institution size.

In addition to the review categories, the WUSCAs 2 submissions-based awards are judged by the Whatuni Student Advisory Board (SAB). These additional submission-based categories are Giving Back and Prospective Student Engagement.

The full WUSCA 2020 rankings will be published on www.whatuni.com on Thursday 9th July, the day after the awards evening.

About Whatuni

Whatuni (www.whatuni.com) is the biggest and most comprehensive course comparison university site in the UK and is part of IDP Connect. Whatuni uses up-to-date course data from UCAS, KIS and The Complete University Guide table rankings, as well as its own data and insights collected throughout the year, including the 200,000+ student reviews that are currently hosted on the site.

About IDP Connect

IDP Connect is a division of IDP Education, global leaders in student marketing and recruitment.

Working with institutions as true partners, IDP Connect understands institution needs and enhances their capabilities with the transformative power of data, insights and engaged student communities. IDP Connect is truly embedded in the markets its educational partners operate in and gives them access to over 30 countries’ worth of in-market knowledge. It also has a trusted student audience of 100 million visits from prospective students across its sites each year. IDP Connect’s exclusive real-time data provides institutions with actionable insights to drive and inform their marketing and recruitment strategies.

CP - Image - Headshot - Ella Grimwade - UK
Ella Grimwade09 July 2020