Revealed: The degrees that offer the best value for money

Contact hours play a huge part


The recently published Student Academic Experience Survey by Hepi (Higher Education Policy Institute) has revealed that students on science courses felt their university experience was much better value for money than those studying arts and humanity courses.

European languages, literature, technology, social studies and mass communications & documentation students were the least satisfied, with just a 30 per cent value for money satisfaction rate. Medicine and dentistry students on the other hand were almost doubly as satisfied with the value for money of their course, expressing a 58 per cent satisfaction rate.

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The study suggested that a higher number of contact hours was a contributing factor to the value for money satisfaction rate. In fact, subjects with more contact hours were considered better value for money. This perhaps explains why science subjects, which often have more contact hours, received more positive satisfaction levels.

Subjects with 20-29 contact hours a week were most satisfied with value for money (72 per cent) whereas subjects with nine or less contact hours were least satisfied with value for money (53 per cent). However, the rate declined for subjects with over 30 contact hours a week.

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The Hepi survey also relayed the overall satisfaction of students, showing that only 27 per cent of students were ‘very satisfied’ with their academic experience this year. This is a 10 per cent drop from 2013. Meanwhile, 58 per cent of students were ‘quite satisfied’, a seven per cent rise from 2013.

The overall satisfaction rate, however, has remained more or less steady, with 85 per cent of students expressing satisfaction with their university experiences compared to 87 per cent in 2015 and 86 per cent in 2014.

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The main factors contributing to the satisfaction rates were support of teaching staff and whether the students’ experiences matched their expectations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 30-31 per cent of first years living in halls claimed they were ‘very satisfied.’ This figure dropped drastically for second years, of which only 23 per cent were ‘very satisfied’, providing further evidence for the “second year slump.”

Interestingly, UK domiciled students from Chinese and Asian backgrounds were least satisfied, with only 16-17 per cent of them claiming to be ‘very satisfied.’

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Over a quarter of students said their university experience had exceeded their expectations, but 13 per cent said it didn’t fulfill their expectations. Half of students considered the experience to be worse in some ways and better in others.

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Over 15,000 students participated in the survey this year, around 2,000 fewer than the number of participants in 2013.