Universities ranked amid satisfaction decline
A government-funded student survey has revealed undergraduate students are mostly unhappy with their education, with law students reporting only a mild improvement.
The Student Experience Survey (SES), as part of a Quality Indicators for Learning and Technology (QILT) study, found only 78.4 per cent of undergraduate students believed their education was satisfactory, the lowest response since it began eight years ago.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan called for universities to focus on how to move on from the ratings and improve overall student experiences, with bonus incentives.
Commenting on the results, Mr Tehan said: “I encourage all universities to look deeply at the results for their institution and continue to focus on how to improve experience.”
Within law courses, the survey found 81.9 per cent valued the overall experience and 83.8 per cent were happy with the teaching quality. For postgraduates, the number of students happy with their education dropped to 76 per cent and teaching quality to 80.
The SES survey noted that the commencing undergraduate students were more likely to be reporting a positive experience over their postgraduate counterparts.
In terms of university rankings, the University of Divinity ranked highest overall. For those that offer legal courses, the University of Notre Dame Australia, Bond University, and Deakin University ranked as second, third and fourth respectively.
“It is important to acknowledge factors beyond the quality of educational experience such as course offerings and the composition of the student population [that] might impact on student ratings,” the report noted. “Where confidence intervals overlap between the two universities there is no significant difference in student ratings statistically.
“Nevertheless, it appears there is differentiation among universities, with some more attractive for higher student ratings than others.”
The top 10 universities are:
1. University of Divinity
2. The University of Notre Dame Australia
3. Bond University
4. Deakin University
5. Edith Cowan University
6. University of New England
7. Griffith University
8. Queensland University of Technology
9. University of the Sunshine Coast
10. University of Wollongong
The lowest ranked was UNSW. Sitting with them at the bottom is the University of Sydney, James Cook University and Charles Darwin University.
Commenting on Notre Dame’s 88.4 per cent overall rating, vice-chancellor professor Francis Campbell said the results reflect the university’s ongoing commitment to assist students by delivering “an excellent education”.
“At Notre Dame, our students are our top priority. We are pleased to hear they continue to rate the quality of their educational experience so highly,” professor Francis said.
Third-rated Bond University, sitting at 87.2 per cent satisfaction, said the ranking was a welcome recognition. Vice-chancellor and president Tim Brailsford said the smaller class sizes and personalised approach “[set] us apart from other universities”.
Deakin University mirrored this, with vice-chancellor professor Iain Martin saying that the rankings is evidence of the “university-wide commitment to high-quality experience for all students from their initial exposure through to graduation”.