More Thoughts on the HEPI/Which? report

The recent HEPI/Which? Report on student academic experience was reported on in these pages previously. Having downloaded the raw data, I’ve been having a look at a few of the factors, and compared Staffordshire University’s performance with a number of comparator institutions, and a couple of local Russell Group universities.

Firstly – average contact hours and amount of private study. Despite the worries often expressed about differences expressed in KIS on the Unistats website, there is very little variation in the number of contact hours averaged across all subject areas for all the universities under consideration. Adding in private study hours, students at Sunderland, Liverpool John Moores and Glyndwr appear to be doing the least amount of academic work.



Looking at value for money, where I have combined the percentages of students who say the course is “good value for money” and “very good value for money” and also “poor value for money” and very poor value for money”, then both Glyndwr and Sunderland appear again as those with the worst perceived value for money. Keele seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of the others, and interestingly the two RG universities do not seem to stand out particularly.



Looking at the number of students who agree that “I am satisfied with the amount of time-tabled sessions I have had this year then again those with the lowest satisfaction with this are the two are perceived to be the worst value, even when the timetabled hours are not significantly different.



So what about whether students would have chosen a different course? (it’s worth just noting how many left this question blank)




It’s difficult to draw sensible conclusions from the plethora of information provided – although that hasn’t stopped the press publishing lots of articles about the poor value of higher education. One thing does stand out for me though – the gap in perception about value for money and contact hours, students at institutions with the lowest perception of value for money are experiencing the same contact hours, but are putting in less private study.

A comment on the report when first published was around the QAA expectation of 10 hours of work per credit, and this is a subject I’ll return to in a later article and suggest some things we might do to bridge this gap and improve student attainment.