Student satisfaction is a terrible way to rank unis

There’s a reason no good unis come top of the National Student Survey


When picking a university, were you swayed by the quality of the promo tote bags given out on open day or the carefully crafted maps showing their town was home to the cheapest pint in the country? No, of course not. Like most people, you made your decision based on charts, rankings and data furiously printed by your dad and spread across the dining room table for the whole family to peruse.

Well, as stupid as it sounds, maybe it’s best to choose your uni based on the former rather than the latter. The 2015 National Student Survey revealed which unis have the most satisfied students in the UK in time for A-Level results day and, quite frankly, they’re bullshit.

Topping the rankings are the following illustrious institutions: Brighton and Sussex Medical School, St Mary’s University College, The University of Keele, Hull and York Medical School, The University of Buckingham, Courtauld Institute of Art (don’t worry, you’re not alone in never hearing of this one), Harper Adams University (or this one), The Royal Veterinary College and The University of Surrey.

First up: what and where the fuck is the Courtauld Institute of Art and how did somewhere literally nobody has ever heard of (is Courtauld a place or a person?) gain a 94 per cent rating? The only rational conclusion is this list has been made up so there’s less demand for places at unis which are actually good, probably because the people behind it want less competition for their own kids.

If your seminars are this smiley, you're not learning anything

If your seminars are this smiley, you’re not learning anything

Of course, that’s not the reason. I actually have a friend at Keele University (somewhere which scored 95 per cent and came in third). He barely attends lectures, gets spoon-fed his work when he does, manages to scrape a pass with the absolute bare minimum effort, and gets smashed every night on cheap booze because getting drunk is the only way to pass the time in the tiny university town. That’s why Keele gets a 95 per cent rating.

Keele is how we all imagined university to be before we got here: all drinking and shagging with no work. Like Skins, but with more trips to Wetherspoons’ Curry Club. The students at these unis aren’t being mentally challenged in any way, and therefore university is essentially a massive three-year booze cruise for them, except they’ve swapped the Med for small towns on the outskirts of Britain.

That’s why you won’t find a correlation between academic success and satisfaction tables. Cambridge students, for example, might be having a shite time working until dawn on gigantic essays but you can bet anything they’ll end up with a better degree than anyone from the Courtauld Institute of Art (Google still hasn’t done enough to convince me it’s a place which actually exists).

Maybe I’m just bitter. I go to Royal Holloway, and my idea of nightlife is doing my Big Shop at 8pm in Waitrose so I can eat half-price Heston Blumenthal sausages and reduced mini apple and cider pork pies for the next three days. Maybe I should have chosen a uni where I could doss about and be 98 per cent satisfied with my time there. But would it really be worth it, to end up in a job interview three years later and have a potential employer awkwardly ask me: “Is ‘Courtauld’ a person or a place?'”