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Students in the Netherlands just as satisfied as last year

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Students at higher education institutions are roughly as satisfied with their study programme as last year during the coronavirus crisis. This emerges from the latest edition of the National Student Survey.

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This spring, one in three higher education students completed the National Student Survey questionnaire: 109,000 research-oriented higher education students and 178,000 students in higher professional education. The questions they had to answer related to subjects such as their study programme, their teachers and the facilities.

At universities 79 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with their study programme as a whole. At universities of applied sciences the figure is 66 percent. Those scores are virtually the same as in 2021. The satisfaction rating has hardly changed, despite all the online teaching and lockdowns.

Before the coronavirus crisis broke out, students were more enthusiastic: 84 percent of research-oriented higher education students and 73 percent of students in higher professional education were satisfied with their study programme.

Not possible
According to the Studiekeuze123 foundation, which organises the survey on behalf of the Ministry of Education, you cannot make a direct comparison. That is because the questionnaire has been changed. It is not possible to set the new scores alongside the old ones. But the survey still uses a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied) and the first question is still the overall assessment of the study programme.

Apart from that, there are considerable differences between the sectors. Of university students in ‘agriculture and natural environment’, 88.4 percent are satisfied, whereas only 3 percent are dissatisfied. In law and economics around 75 percent are satisfied, with 7.5 percent of students dissatisfied.

The pattern is similar in higher professional education. There too, the ‘green’ study programmes are at the top with a satisfaction rating of 76.6 percent, while 6.3 percent are unhappy with their programme. But the satisfaction rating drops below 60 percent among students in legal study programmes at universities of applied sciences, with as many as 12.3 percent being dissatisfied.

Strong and weak points
The results of the National Student Survey can be found in the section with information about study programmes on the website Studiekeuze123.nl, where students can explore the various programme options. Weekly magazine Elsevier and the Keuzegids (University Study Guide) base their publications on the results. Furthermore, study programmes can use the results to reflect on their strong and weak points.

The student survey is a controversial instrument, not least because the results lead to ranking lists. Are study programmes lower down the list really worse than those higher up? And how comparable are the results anyway? In addition, there was a fuss over the implementation, which led to reluctance among the institutions.

Shortly before the coronavirus crisis, universities of applied sciences did not participate for a year because they had issues with the way things were being handled. As a result, the then government made participation mandatory, to prevent the institutions from withdrawing from the survey.

The Studiekeuze123 foundation is doing its best to preserve a good atmosphere. “It’s a striking fact that the satisfaction of students with their study programme has remained the same as in 2021, despite all the online teaching and the pressure that still exists as a result of the pandemic”, Director Ingrid Kolkhuis Tanke says in the press release. “That deserves a compliment.”

In the first year of the coronavirus crisis, 2020, the survey did not go ahead. The study programmes suddenly had to teach online and had other things on their mind than giving their attention to the National Student Survey.

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