Last week, we asked you to help us continue to lobby the University for changes and improvements to your learning, research and support at University.
We had over 3,000 students take part in the survey, thank you to everyone who took part. We have sent the report to the Senior Leadership Team, The Teaching & Learning Group and the Deans and Directors of Faculty Administration at the University. As your Students' Union, we are now focussed on working on an action plan to lobby the University.
You can read the results of the survey below as well as downloading the full report.
The Learning, Research and Support survey (LRSS Oct 2020) was administered in response to the University shifting to Tier 3(DfE) on October 7th 2020 which resulted in most face-to-face lectures moving online. The survey garnered a total of 3031 responses and researched student opinions on learning/research, communication experiences, accommodation experiences, wellbeing and student concerns, and their interaction with Student support services.
When asked how students were currently feeling toward their studies/research, Undergraduates (UG) and Postgraduate Taught students (PGT) scored 4.89 out of 10 (slightly poor to neutral) and Postgraduate Research students (PGR) scored 5.22 (Neutral to slightly good). Compared to the annual Students’ Union Life Survey (SULS 2019-20) which was rated at 5.86 out of 10, it suggests that current feelings towards their studies and research are lower than last year.
We asked taught students (UG and PGT) how important 1-2-1 online interaction was to them was and whether they were satisfied with their interaction so far. Although not defined, 1-2-1 online interaction can include interaction with their lecturers, supervisors, academic advisor, and other students within their course. With 75% of taught respondents stating online 1-2-1 interaction is important, only 25% of respondents were satisfied with their experience of online interaction while 46% were dissatisfied.
Students reported highest satisfaction with 1-2-1 online interaction in these schools: a) School of Health Sciences (35.9% satisfaction); b) School of Environment, Education and Development (30.3% satisfaction); c) School of Natural Sciences (29.5% satisfaction). Students reported highest dissatisfaction with online 1-2-1 interaction from these schools (top 3): a) School of Social Sciences (53.6% dissatisfied); b) School of Arts, Languages and Culture (49.69% dissatisfied); c) Alliance Manchester Business School (47.6% dissatisfied). Based on the trend, the Faculty of Humanities have higher dissatisfaction regarding 1-2-1 online interaction among UG and PGT students
With PGR respondents, we asked about the importance and satisfaction of 1-2-1 online interaction with their supervisor. Similarly, with 91.8% of PGRs stating online 1-2-1 interaction with their supervisor is important, only 51% are satisfied with their experience of 1-2-1 online interaction.
Around 5.4 in 10 taught students (54.4%) find it easy to access University resources while 3.1 in 10 students (30.7%) found it difficult. 7.5 in 10 PGRs (75%) find it easy to access University resources while 1.2 in 10 PGRs (12%) found it difficult. Compared to the ‘Shift to online survey’ conducted in May 2020, 53% found it easy while 25% found it difficult to access University resources. This suggests that students find it slightly more difficult to access resources in the new academic year which could be attributed to new students not familiar with the online resources available.
We asked students about their satisfaction with the communication from the University, from Schools, from supervisors (only PGRs) and from the Students’ Union.
3.1 out of 10 taught respondents (31.6%) are satisfied with the communication from the University while 4.7 out of 10 respondents (47.92%) are unsatisfied. 4.2 out of 10 PGRs (42%) are satisfied with the overall communication from the University while 3.7 out of 10 PGRs (37%) are unsatisfied.
5.2 out of 10 taught students (52.6%) are satisfied while 2.8 out of 10 students (28.2%) are dissatisfied with the communication from their schools. Students reported satisfaction of communication from these schools (top 3): School of Health Sciences (64.7% satisfaction), School of Biological Sciences (60% satisfaction), and School of Medical Sciences (59.6%). Students reported highest dissatisfaction of communication from these schools (top 3): Alliance Manchester Business School (37.3% dissatisfied), School of Social Sciences (35.5% dissatisfied), School of Environment, Education and Development (34.2% dissatisfied). Based on the trend, the faculty of Humanities have higher dissatisfaction regarding communication while Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health received higher satisfaction. Overall, 5.4 out of 10 PGRs (54%) are satisfied with the communication from their school and Faculty while 2.6 out of 10 PGRs (26%) are unsatisfied.
7.2 in 10 PGRs (72.7%) are satisfied with the communication with their supervisor. 1.6 out of 10 PGRs (16.1%) are dissatisfied while 1.1 out of 10 PGRs (11.1%) are neutral.
2.7 out of 10 taught respondents (27.1%) are satisfied with the communication from the SU while 3.6 out of 10 respondents (36.1%) are dissatisfied. The remaining 36.7% are neutral. 3 in 10 PGRs (30.1%) are satisfied with the communication from the SU while 2.6 out of 10 PGRs (26.8%) are dissatisfied. The remaining 43% are neutral. These results are consistent with National Student Survey and the Students’ Union Life survey where responses fall in the middle rather than the extremes.
Overall, a feeling of safety prominently resounds with the respondents of the survey (71.2% report feeling safe). This is especially true for students living by themselves, living at home students, private halls accommodation and house sharing with other students.
The University halls accommodation reports higher levels of feeling unsafe in halls (25% of students living in halls feel unsafe). Furthermore, the University halls accommodation reports lower levels of safety (62% feeling safe) compared to the average (71% feeling safe). There is a 30% difference between students living by themselves (92% feeling safe) vs. students living in University halls accommodation (62% feeling safe).
When we asked students the reasons they may feel unsafe, students mentioned Burglaries and break-ins (experienced in halls and house shares), contracting COVID-19, students having parties and not taking the guidelines seriously, poor security, lack of cleanliness in halls and the use of shared spaces. One student commented “Cleaners and maintenance are still coming in and they have been provided no PPE as far as I know. They visit many residences and are not protected. Kind of defeats the point of isolating as a household if they're required to move between them.” As expected, COVID-19 was a reason for feeling unsafe within their accommodation. However, 3.6 in 10 comments state burglaries, break-ins, crime, and theft as a reason of feeling unsafe within their accommodation. Students living in halls and in house share in Manchester who fear of being robbed can impact their mental health, thus more support/security should be provided and action must be taken regarding the ‘burglary epidemic’ in student areas within Manchester.
We asked students whether they intend to remain or leave their current accommodation. 82.3% of respondents state they want to remain (53.8%) or are leaning towards remaining in their accommodation (28.5%). The remaining 17.5% stated they want to leave (4.5%) or are leaning towards leaving their accommodation (13%). When asked where they intend to go if they leave their accommodation, 85% mentioned they would go back home while 15% stated they would shift to another hall/house. (Note: 72% of international respondents also mentioned they would go back home).
If we estimate the total student population to be 37,000 students, 1665 students from the University would want to leave their accommodation. Additionally, those who lean toward leaving would tally the number to 6508 students who would ultimately leave if they confirmed their decision of leave. These feelings have the highest response from students who live in University halls accommodation (19.6%) and private halls accommodation (25%). Considering student status, 24.2% of EU respondents, 20.5% of International respondents and 15.6% of UK students have stated they were leaving or thinking of leaving their accommodation.
On a scale of 1-10, students rate their wellbeing at 5.4 (neutral) with UG/PGT students at 5.3, PGT at 5.9, UK students at 5.3, EU at 5.4 and International at 5.5 out of 10. We asked students about the factors that concern them the most. Out of 2918 students, 73.8% of respondents stated the Lack of social life and interaction followed by 68.9% of respondents stating their well-being, physical and mental health as something that concerns them. This is then followed by concerns about their academic progress and workload being unmanageable where more than half of the respondents’ state this as a concern.
Within the comment section, students are concerned about paying their tuition fees/accommodation fees as they feel they do not receive a service that is expected nor are they able to use all student facilities. Other concerns are the lack of support (IT support, social support, financial support, counselling support etc.), not being able to see their family, DASS concerns and Exam concerns (To see the full list of concerns, please download the report). Students are also worried about the poor teaching quality, missing lab and practical experience, and whether they can receive the accreditation due to the reduced quality of teaching and lab work.
Students mentioned the library is inaccessible in the evening which make it hard for students to study as they report WIFI issues, noisy flatmates as well as their lectures that take place during the day. Students are concerned about the second semester: they ask whether it will continue being online or will there be some face-to-face teaching?
Excluding the 938 students who did not access student support services, 4.1 in 10 students (41.6%) found it easy to access support services remotely while 3.1 in 10 students (31.1%) find it difficult to access student support services remotely. For those who use student support services, 7 in 10 students (70.3%) find the support services somewhat useful to extremely useful while 2.9 out of 10 students (29.6%) students feel that the support services are not useful. Altogether, students who use the Student support services tend to find it useful.
We asked students “What support do you need that you do not currently have?”. Students report the need of: a. Academic, Financial and Social support; b. IT support; c. Mental health support; d. Halls support and security; e. PGR/Lab work support; f. Access to library; g. Career support; h. More information about the situation and upcoming decisions; i. Face-to-face interaction (online and in-person); j. DASS support and guidance.
As it is an difficult time for our students, with students having to isolate during the pandemic and for new students who are getting used to University life, this survey aimed to understand how students truly felt regarding their learning and research experience, their accommodation, and lots more. Students demonstrate that they need more support covering the basic areas of university experience (academic and social support) as well as support during this new situation (due to COVID-19 and government policies). Students want more support with their well-being and mental health, especially for those in halls under lockdown. Students want more 1-2-1 online interaction, want to make friends, and have a social life that can help alleviate some pressure on their mental health. We thank the students for participating in this survey. Your responses are used to lobby the University to make change to support you.
For more details on the report, please download the report below.