National survey: students give lower grade to higher education

Image: Pixabay

When the coronavirus crisis broke out last year, it prevented the National Student Survey from happening. Students weren’t given a chance to evaluate their study programmes, facilities, lecturers or their overall educational experience.

The year before, the survey was plagued by technical problems, leading the survey universities of applied sciences to pull out in protest. That's why the most recent evaluations available are from three years ago.

It looks like students' satisfaction has significantly declined since then. Asked to evaluate their overall educational experience, 78.6 percent of university students said they were satisfied or very satisfied. Although those numbers are high, two years ago the figure was 84 percent.

The situation is a bit worse among students of universities of applied sciences. Only 66.4 percent are satisfied or very satisfied. In 2018 that figure was 73 percent.

According to the Studiekeuze123 Foundation, who conducted the poll, this comparison shouldn’t really be made as a new list of questions was used this time. But the survey still uses a scale of 1 to 5 for very satisfied to very unsatisfied, and the first question still asks for an evaluation of the overall educational experience. Little has changed in that regard, despite the more concise formulation of questions.

Therefore, the shift is noteworthy. Taking into consideration the coronavirus crisis, one might think the drop is not so bad. After all, it’s great that higher education has managed to contain the damage. Aonther way to look at it is: "look at how deeply the coronavirus crisis has affected students."

Studiekeuze123 does neither one nor the other. The tone of their press release is mostly enthusiastic, based on the high numbers of students who are satisfied with their study programmes: more than 70 percent for higher professional education and university education combined, and that’s without including a pretty large portion who are neutral.

Studiekeuze123 is an independent organisation, but has been tasked with the survey by the Ministry of Education. They are also instructed to approach the sector for input. The press release has been approved by an advisory committee representing universities and universities of applied sciences, a spokesperson says.