OfS responds to student academic experience survey

Office for Students (OfS) chief executive, Nicola Dandridge, has responded to the HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey 2020-21 ahead of her speech to the HEPI annual conference later today.

In her speech, Ms Dandridge will say that universities could plan for face-to-face teaching while being clear to students where any future pandemic restrictions might require some course content to move online.

Nicola Dandridge said:

'It’s been an exceptionally tough year for students. And I don’t think any of us can be surprised to see this reflected in HEPI’s latest student survey which – as ever –provides useful insights into students’ experiences over the last year. If we are going to learn lasting and meaningful lessons from the pandemic, listening carefully and responding to students’ views will be essential.

'It is clearly of concern to see such a significant increase in the number of students saying that their course presents poor value for money – largely driven by the limited availability of in-person tuition. We know that staff worked hard to deliver courses under extremely difficult circumstances, and many will be looking forward to getting back to campus in the autumn, providing it is safe to do so.'

In her speech later today, Ms Dandridge will urge universities to continue with plans for in-person teaching in the autumn while being clear to students the circumstances in which some course content could move online such as in response to any renewed pandemic restrictions. She will say:

'During the pandemic we took the view that no matter how courses were provided, whether face-to-face or online, all students should receive a high quality academic experience and if they did not we would intervene.

'The survey highlights an increase in the number of students saying that their experience was worse than expected. This reflects the importance of students being given clear and timely information about what they can expect before they start their courses, so that what they get is what they expect.

'In our view, it is perfectly reasonable to be clear with students that the intention is to plan for face-to-face teaching but to make it clear to students that elements of teaching might need to move online if restrictions are re-introduced. Or set out how in-person elements may be complemented by online teaching. I would expect universities and colleges to be thinking through, as far as they can, the approach they would take to delivering courses in different scenarios and finding ways to communicate that effectively to both current and prospective students, so that students can start the year with realistic expectations about the teaching they will receive.'

For further information contact Richard Foord on 0117 905 7676 or [email protected].

Published 24 June 2021

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