UK Higher Education

Harper Adams University named University of the Year 2017

For the first time in Whatuni history, a university has won the top honour of University of Year for the second year in a row.  Crucially, in a year where overall satisfaction in the sector has dropped markedly, Harper Adams University has risen in the views of its students.

As well as taking home the title of University of the Year, Harper Adams University also came top in three other award categories: Job Prospects, Course and Lecturers and Student Support.

The full ranking, which includes 127 universities, is published online today.  Universities were ranked by 27,000 students across 12 categories.  44 universities made the top ten of at least one category, 14 have come away with a top three finish, and eight universities took home a top place finish at an awards ceremony last night in London.

Dr David Llewellyn, Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University, commented: “We are thrilled to have been named the Whatuni Student Choice Awards University of the Year. This is a tremendous vote of confidence from our students and we greatly appreciate their support, as well as the many ways in which they contribute, with our staff, to creating a vibrant academic community working at the cutting edge of some of the world’s greatest challenges.

To have won the award for the first time last year was wonderful, but to have taken the top place for a second time is really special.  It just goes to show that smaller universities have a big role to play in providing an environment where students can really get the most out of their time in higher education.”

Marcella Collins, Managing Director Higher Education, Hotcourses Group, added: “We’d like to extend our congratulations to Harper Adams, taking home the University of the Year award for the second year in a row, as well as wins in three further categories.

Looking at the sector as a whole, it’s great to see ratings for Course and Lecturers have gone up.  But does this just reflect a short-term focus in response to fears of the TEF?  Whether universities are concentrating enough on the entire student experience, or just trying to appease legislators and secure funding, time and student reviews will tell.”

Each category in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards is based on the aggregate review score submitted by students at that university.  They are asked to rate their experience across the following categories: Student Support, Clubs and Societies, Accommodation, City Life, Job Prospects, Student Union, Course and Lecturers, Uni Facilities, and an Overall category.  The International category is based on the Overall scores submitted by international students.  New for 2017, a Postgraduate category, which is determined by the overall score submitted by postgraduates, and a Giving Back category, in which students were asked: “How much does your uni give back to the community (think global and local), do any projects stand out?”  The individual category results are published below.

Comparing student satisfaction across these categories with last year, the following trends in Higher Education emerge:

  • Despite the overall category having the highest satisfaction score, it dropped significantly from 82.6% in 2016 to 81.4% in 2017
  • 9 out of 11 UK regions had lower scores this year than last
  • Regionally, Wales reports the most satisfied students, taking over from the North East in 2016. London students were the least satisfied
  • The three categories with the biggest increase in national improvement were Job Prospects (72% to 77.6%), Clubs and Societies (72% to 76.6%) and Students’ Union (70.6% to 73.8%)
  • With the impending introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework, a marginal improvement in the score for Courses and Lecturers will be welcome.  This has increased from 79% in 2015 and 79.2% in 2016 to 79.4% in 2017

Commenting, Aaron Porter, Director of Insights, Hotcourses Group, said: “This has been another significant year for the higher education sector; the progress through Parliament of a Higher Education Bill, the impending introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework and an upcoming reorganisation of the funding and regulatory landscape herald a new landscape. On that backdrop it is particularly heartening to see that students continue to offer a ringing endorsement for the quality of their experience both inside and out of the classroom.

The direct views of students should be central to any future developments that the sector embarks upon, and through the Whatuni Student Choice Awards over 27,000 students have given us a terrific resource to understand where universities are meeting and exceeding the expectations of students, but where there is still further room for improvement.”


Category Results:



1st Harper Adams University

2nd Loughborough University

3rd Bangor University


Student Support

1st Harper Adams University

2nd Leeds College of Art

3rd Edge Hill University


Clubs and Societies

1st Bangor University

2nd Loughborough University

3rd Harper Adams University



1st Edge Hill University

2nd Harper Adams University

3rd Loughborough University


City Life

1st University of Edinburgh

2nd University of Leeds

3rd Newcastle University


Job Prospects

1st Harper Adams University

2nd Loughborough University

3rd Royal Agricultural University


Student Union

1st University of Sheffield

2nd Loughborough University

3rd Harper Adams University


Course and Lecturers

1st Harper Adams University

2nd Leeds College of Art

3rd Bangor University


Uni Facilities

1st Loughborough University

2nd Leeds college of Art

3rd Harper Adams University



1st University of Exeter

2nd Aberystwyth University

3rd Swansea University



1st Swansea University

2nd University of Exeter

3rd University of Lincoln


Giving Back

1st Loughborough University

2nd Harper Adams University

3rd Bangor University


About Whatuni is part of the Hotcourses Group, founded in 1996. It provides the world’s largest web-based course and university/college search for students looking to study in the UK.  Hotcourses web products are used by over 68 million students worldwide each year. The company employs 300 people and has offices in London, Sydney, Boston and Chennai.

The Whatuni Insights Day was held during the day before the awards ceremony, where a deep dive into the data revealed more about the factors affecting student satisfaction.  Speakers from the Guild HE, QAA, JISC, University of Manchester, The Parthenon Group – EY, Wonkhe, The Complete University Guide, and others provided their thoughts on the data, and what it means in a changing landscape for higher education in the UK.

For more information about the Whatuni Insights Day please contact or click here.

For more information on the Whatuni Student Rankings and next year’s Awards ceremony, contact

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