UK Higher Education

Loughborough wins Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018 University of the Year, amid UK-wide drop in student satisfaction

Loughborough University has been named University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018, also scooping top honours in Uni Facilities and Giving Back categories and placing in the top three in a further five categories.

Voted for entirely by students, the award results published online today on whatuni.com (from 0630hrs) show that overall satisfaction has fallen 1.2% across the board, though it surprisingly still remains above 80% after one of the most turbulent years on record for the higher education sector.

More students than ever had their say – with 36,440 reviews and comments submitted, rating their overall university experience 4.01 out of 5. Despite falls overall and in the majority of categories, students scored their universities higher than last year for Uni Facilities and Job Prospects. Meanwhile, Wales hosts the happiest students in the UK and students are least satisfied in London.
Ten different winners were announced at an awards ceremony last night in London, which included three new categories: Independent HE, Further Education and a submission-based award for Best Prospective Student Engagement, judged by the Whatuni Student Advisory Board. The 12 main categories feature 126 institutions and 148 institutions are featured in total across all 15 categories (see Fig 1).

Loughborough University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Allison, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Loughborough has been crowned – for the second time – the Whatuni Student Choice Awards University of the Year. As this award is voted for by students it makes it even more of an achievement.

“The Loughborough community is amazing. Our unique partnership with the Students’ Union and the energy and commitment of our staff have enabled us to create an environment where our students not only get the best educational experience, but also an amazing life experience.

“It is an honour to be named University of the Year and everyone across our Loughborough and London campuses should feel incredibly proud of our success.”

What the 2018 WUSCA results tell us 

  • The main category with the highest average is the Overall Satisfaction category, scoring 4.01 out of 5 and outperforming other individual “component part” categories.
  • Although the Overall category is the best scoring category, it’s dipped from 4.07 (2017) to 4.01 (2018).
  • Out of the 126 universities featured in the main categories, 84 have seen their scores in the Overall category drop since last year. The decline is relatively small in most instances, but two universities have dropped by 10%.
  • In addition to a drop in the Overall category, there have also been falls in Accommodation, City Life, Courses & Lecturers and Clubs & Societies categories.
  • The categories proving hardest to crack are Students’ Union (3.69 out of 5), Accommodation (3.70) and Giving Back (3.54).
  • Good news for student employability as there’s been a noticeable increase in the perceived Job Prospects category, which has risen from 3.88 (2017) to 3.97 (2018), building on significant growth in the previous year.
  • The other category where the average score across the UK increased was Uni Facilities. It is the second highest score, behind the Overall category.
  • Regionally, the happiest students this year can be found in Wales (holding onto its 2017 crown).
  • London-based students had the lowest satisfaction score in the Overall category.
  • Students in 8 out of 12 UK regions were less happy in 2018 compared to 2017, although students in the North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland were more satisfied this year.

Figure 1. Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018 vs 2017 results

Category 2018 Score (/5) 2017
Overall Satisfaction 4.01 4.07
Uni Facilities 3.98 3.96
Job Prospects 3.97 3.88
City Life 3.89 3.95
Courses & Lecturers 3.88 3.97
Student Support 3.86 3.87
Clubs & Societies 3.77 3.83
Accommodation 3.7 3.76
Students’ Union 3.69 3.69
Giving Back 3.54 3.58
International 4.17 4.18
Postgraduate 4.13 4.16
Independent* 4.25
Further Education* 4.10

*new categories for 2018

Aaron Porter, Director of Policy & Engagement, Hotcourses Group, commented: “Collectively the sector may wish to take note that overall satisfaction across the sector has fallen compared to 2017, engaging with students directly will be the best way to reverse this trend. Despite the decline overall satisfaction remains above 80%, a score many other sectors would be enviable of, and we should take the time to congratulate the staff who work in our higher education providers for the excellent work that they do.”

Simon Emmett, Hotcourses Group Chief Executive, said: “We have grown used to an increasingly contested and standardised view of universities, but many reviews we’ve collected this year show those views are not necessarily shared by students. Our collection of almost 37,000 reviews gives voice to students’ lived experiences of university and while there are challenges, the results delivered many positive comments about university experience that will help inspire prospective students faced with the difficult decision of where to study.”

Mark Leach, Founder and Editor of Wonkhe, said: “Reviews from over 36,000 students in this year’s Whatuni Student Choice Awards provide an important insight into student satisfaction at a critical time for UK higher education. The opinions of students offer a valuable resource in helping institutions remain accountable and help us understand trends across the sector.

“Overall satisfaction has dropped year-on-year, as has Course & Lecturers, but it is encouraging to see the perception of job prospects going up, despite recent media and political debates that have questioned the economic value of higher education”.

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018 results

University of the Year
1st Loughborough University
2nd Harper Adams
3rd Bangor University

Accommodation
1st Bangor University
2nd Edge Hill University
3rd  Harper Adams University

City Life
1st University of Liverpool
2nd Newcastle University
3rd University of Glasgow

Clubs & Societies
1st Bangor University
2nd  Harper Adams University
3rd Loughborough University 

Course & Lecturers
1st Harper Adams University
2nd Bangor University
3rd University of Buckingham

Giving Back
1st Loughborough University
2nd SOAS University of London
3rd Harper Adams University

Job Prospects
1st Harper Adams University
2nd Loughborough University
3rd St George’s, University of London 

Student Support
1st Harper Adams University
2nd Leeds Arts University
3rd Loughborough University 

Student Union
1st University of Sheffield
2nd Loughborough University
3rd University of Leeds

Uni Facilities
1st Loughborough University
2nd Leeds Arts University
3rd Harper Adams University

International
1st University of Glasgow
2nd Aberystwyth University
3rd Northumbria University

Postgraduate
1st Aberystwyth University
2nd University of Glasgow
3rd University of Kent 

Independent
1st Point Blank Music School
2nd Norland College
3rd Futureworks

Further Education
1st Bridgend College
2nd DN Colleges Group
3rd Bournemouth and Poole College

Best Prospective Student Engagement Award (submission based)
1st St Mary’s, Twickenham
2nd Futureworks
3rd University of Bradford

ENDS

Notes for Editors

Media enquiries
For more information or to secure an interview with Aaron Porter or Simon Emmett, please contact Katie Duncan, Head of Communications, Hotcourses Group.
Email katie.duncan@hotcoursesgroup.com Tel: 0207 3784 6040.

Results
The full 2018 Whatuni Student Choice Awards will be available from 0630hrs here: https://www.whatuni.com/student-awards-winners/university-of-the-year/
The winning institution video will be available from 0630hrs on www.whatuni.com

About the Whatuni Student Choice Awards – #WUSCA
The main categories for the Whatuni Student Choice Awards are compiled entirely from student reviews, which are a combination of electronic and physically collected reviews by the Whatuni team who this year travelled 34,000 miles. The results are both quantitative (scores) and qualitative (free text) and the total reviews for 2017/18 collected in excess of 36,440.

The Whatuni review questions cover 12 principle areas: Accommodation, City Life, Clubs and Societies, Courses and Lecturers, Giving Back, Job Prospects, Student Support, Students’ Union, Facilities, International, Postgraduate and Overall Satisfaction.

This year, 2018, marks the introduction of three new categories: FE College & Independent HE (online only) and Best Prospective Student Engagement (submission judged by the Whatuni Student Advisory Board, made up of students from across the UK).

To feature in the main categories, institutions need taught degree awarding powers. Threshold for feature in the main categories is 150-200 depending on institution size and FE College and Independent institutions have lower thresholds.

About Whatuni
Whatuni (www.whatuni.com) is the biggest and most comprehensive course comparison university site in the UK and is part of the Hotcourses Group. 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 129,000 student reviews that are currently hosted on the site.

About Hotcourses Group

The Hotcourses Group (www.idp-connect.com) owns and runs several education comparison sites including The Complete University Guide, Whatuni, Postgraduate Search, Hotcourses Abroad and a suite of local language websites for international students. It employs over 350 people in offices across the world in London, Sydney, Chennai and Boston.

In 2017, Hotcourses Group was acquired by IDP Education, a world leader in international student placement services. The combination of IDP and Hotcourses Group creates a seamless digital and face-to-face student journey and enables institutions to connect with an unparalleled reach of researching students.

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