Students name best (and worst) universities


A year is a long time in the world of higher education. A university that has been the most expensive in the country will become one of the best in terms of value for money next year.

The University of Buckingham is ranked third in a table of student satisfaction published today – but those above it will be charging the maximum £9,000 a year for a three-year course.

Professor Terence Keeley, the vice-chancellor, said "We're going from the most expensive university in the UK to the cheapest," he said yesterday, "and we still don't know how to handle that psychologically."

Buckingham, the UK's only private university, scores 93 per cent in a table showing the percentage of students sat each university satisfied with their courses – putting it in third place.

Top of the league table is the higher charging Brighton and Sussex Medical School followed by Cambridge University.

The table, however, would appear to show that if students are looking for value for money next year, they need to look outside of the traditional state-funded university you can go away to and study at for three years.

All those in the top ten that can charge £9,000 a year for their courses and those in England are doing so.

Buckingham University, who will be charging £7,500 a year for a three-year course, and the Open University, which is charging £5,000 a year, are the exceptions.

In Buckingham's case, courses are spread over a two-year period – so the actual cost is £11,250. However, that is still significantly less than the £27,000 for a three-year course at a university charging the maximum.

Professor Keeley is clear as to why students rate the university.

"That's straightforward," he said. "In every other university in Britain, the client is the Government – so they have to work to government targets. Here the client is the student."

Christina Lloyd, director of teaching and learning at the Open University – which has been in the top three for the past seven years, added: "As students become more focused on their finances, quality, value for money and the student experience are more important than ever."

Overall, 83 per cent of students who responded to this year's national student survey said they were satisfied with their courses, nine per cent were dissatisfied and eight per cent said they did not know.

Individual figures ranged from 95 per cent for Brighton and Sussex Medical school to just 67 per cent for Ravensbourne College, a university sector college specialising in digital media and design.

In the further education sector, the figures were more varied with 100 per cent satisfaction registered at Trafford College in Greater Manchester but only 39 per cent in Barnfield Luton and Bedford.

Whilst universities were pleased that the overall satisfaction figures were a slight increase on last year, there was a warning of the impact cuts and rises in fees could have.