St Andrews grades and student satisfaction improve despite pandemic

The overall satisfaction level was the highest the University has recorded in the last six years

A Teaching and Student Experience Snapshot carried out by the University of St Andrews confirmed that average grades have improved slightly since the beginning of the pandemic.

The overall student satisfaction level was the highest the University has recorded in the last six years.

Of 22 University Schools, 21 maintained or significantly improved their student satisfaction scores.

The snapshot also found no significant differences in attainment between students taught in-person, taught remotely, or received a blend of in-person and remote teaching.

Students studying Classics, Divinity, Economics, Modern Languages, Music, Philosophy, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geography and Sustainable Development, Maths & Statistics, and Medicine at St Andrews all returned higher teaching satisfaction scores than their predecessors had in previous, pandemic-free, years.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some students may have been able to work harder without the traditional distractions of campus life.

“While we should treat this snapshot with a degree of caution, this is a remarkable outcome. It reflects well on our staff’s ability to deliver high-quality teaching during the pandemic and on our students’ willingness to appreciate and recognise what is possible under current circumstances,” said Professor Clare Peddie, Vice-Principal (Education).

She added: “Overall, given that all of our students underwent the same assessment regimes within their respective modules, these figures suggest that students who engaged remotely only (and did not benefit from in-person teaching or the facilities provided on campus) performed as successfully as their peers.

“This speaks to the parity of our provision and the quality of our preparations for online teaching, including the provision of learning material through the Library and technical support for the digital delivery of teaching.”

The St Andrews Students’ Association President, Dan Marshall said: “Whilst for many students this hasn’t been the year they had hoped for, today’s news is incredibly positive.

“It is testament to the way in which students and staff have worked hard and pulled together to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and I’m glad that students have recognised staff who have gone above and beyond to support them.”

The University says while the results give confidence that it can continue to deliver some of its teaching online to very high standards, it is conscious of the “first wave” effect in which teaching and support staff worked extremely hard, round the clock to teach and support students on site in St Andrews alongside a globally dispersed student population.

Students were also inclined to be more sympathetic to first term difficulties.

St Andrews has confirmed that teaching will remain online-only for a majority of students for the rest of the academic year, to adhere to Scottish Government guidelines.

The University has also invested more than £500,000 in a Can Do programme, which supports in-person and online extra-curricular and co-curricular student activity along Government guidelines.

Cover photo via Ewan Harvey

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