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Sheffield University Ranks Top for Student Experience

Gone are the days when the only priority in education was the academic aspect. Recent studies have shown that nowadays, with University leavers being top game for companies due to unconventional job descriptions, academic institutions have to offer much more than just good curriculum. They also have to offer enough experience—both professionally and personally, as the new demands of the workplace also require students to be well-rounded and emotionally sound.

Today, the Times Higher Education (THE) and YouthSight released a study which interviewed 14,000 students from all over the UK, all full-time undergraduates across 111 institutions. This study has been running annually, for more than 9 years. The students included in the sample are asked to rate their school throughout 21 specific categories, including but not limited to factors such as the quality of lectures, staff effectiveness, social life, field connections and the ability to disseminate practical information.

The University of East Anglia, which took the cake last year, fell to third place in the survey released earlier today. The University of Bath, on the other hand was in sixth place previously and rose quickly to second place this year. One notable thing, Ben Marks, the managing director of YouthSight wrote in the report, was that colleges and University throughout London have consistently done poorly with regard to this yearly study. The bottom 20 are all comprised of institutions from London. The highest-ranking institution in London was the Imperial College London, in 43rd place.

The bottom ten are comprised of the London Metropolitan University, the University of the Arts London, London South Bank University, the University of Westminster, the University of East London and the University of Greenwich. Oddly enough, Mr. Marks writes in the report, despite the fact that London is well-known for its pubs and social life, even the social aspects of the surveys given to these universities were a flop. This is one of the aspects they will be focusing on in next year’s study—although he does note that this may have to do with the cost of living in London as well as the lack of proper housing for a lot of the students.

The study also contains certain reports on progress with regard to its significance. The study, which began in 2005, was originally meant to track the effectiveness of schools with regard to the experience factor (this was the very thing which made the study popular and which set it aside from other similar surveys). Back then, Mr. Marks notes, it was very difficult to get taken seriously with a selling point like that. But nowadays, this is information that universities can’t afford not to have.

Fiona Salvage, the Supplement Editor at THE says that this year’s scores and last year’s scores averaged at 75.5, the highest yet in recorded history. She says that while the aim is of course, to keep on getting better, for now she is glad that the scores have remained at a high. John Gill, the editor of THE, said that universities now are all seeking to improve their offered student experience because this is what the new, tech-savvy, personality-driven world is looking for. The competition for students now isn’t just national, he says—with international students having the capacity to study wherever they want, they are also competing with schools all over the world for great students.

Top place this year went to the University of Sheffield, which had the best Student Union and the best Student Experience. Other achievers include the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (tied) for top quality of lectures and staff.  The University of Bath also outdid itself, taking the top for Industry Connections along with the Imperial College London. The University of Sterling came in at the top for most improved Student Experience.



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