After the slog of researching, applications, exams and preparation university finally rolls around, but the course isn’t quite as described… so what now?
Now we don’t want to reduce the value of a university degree to just pounds and pence; but when they can expect to graduate with around £35-40K of debt, students need some kind of reassurance that their course will meet their expectations.
But no matter how much research is carried out when choosing a university, there’s always a chance that the course isn’t quite as described, or even standards slip gradually over time.
After having jumped through hoops to get into a university for the last year, it can be quite intimidating to stand up to a big, well-established institution and say: ‘You’re not fulfilling what you promised’.
Last month, we found that many students don’t feel they have enough information when making A-level choices; fortunately, A-level students don’t have to pay upwards of £9,000 a year for their studies, unlike university students.
Now the differences between college/sixth form and university are pretty big: large lectures, advanced material, more independent study than before… and, of course, it’s all away from the comforts of home. With all the change it can be hard to recognise whether or not you’re getting what you’re paying for.
But university could be where a student faces their first major consumer battle – after playing their part by achieving the grades asked of them, drafting and redrafting personal statements, sitting interviews and exams, their expectations of their chosen university should stand up to equal measure.
Last week saw the publication of the Higher Education white paper, which calls for a brand new watchdog to protect students’ rights at university:
‘We will establish a new market regulator, the Office for Students (OfS) that operates on behalf of students and tax payers to support a competitive environment and promote choice, quality and value for money. In doing so we will put students at the heart of how higher education is regulated. The OfS will be explicitly pro-student choice, a champion of transparency, and will make sure that a high quality higher education experience is available for students from all backgrounds.’
We have high expectations that the introduction of the OfS will fully equip students with all the information and support they need to ensure they get what they paid for, and what they’re ultimately entitled to while at university.
Do you think universities offer enough support to their students? Do you know of a student who had a poor university experience?