Students at Australia’s top universities are among the least satisfied with their educational experience, according to government data that also paints the most detailed picture yet of how employers rate the skills of recent graduates.
The data, to be released by the federal Department of Education on Wednesday, shows that six of the elite Group of Eight (Go8) universities performed below the national average when students were asked to rate the quality of their experience.
The University of NSW, University of Sydney, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, Australian National University and the University of Melbourne all scored below the national average of 80 per cent student satisfaction.
Private institutions the University of Notre Dame and Bond University had the most satisfied students, with more than 90 per cent rating their experience positively.
Edith Cowan University in Perth received the top satisfaction rating of the nation’s public universities, with 86 per cent approval. The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) scored the lowest, with 72 per cent.
The drop in student satisfaction at UTS reflects a shift last year from semester to trimester teaching periods and from traditional lectures to interactive tutorials.
Senior deputy vice-chancellor Andrew Parfitt said it had been a challenging year for the university’s students and staff.
“UTS is disappointed in the results, but is currently in the middle of a significant transformation to its teaching and learning approach, with a focus on a new model of student learning and outcomes,” he said.
“The university has invested significantly in facilities and learning and teaching support and, with the ongoing commitment of our staff, we are confident future student satisfaction will reflect the positive outcomes we are aiming to achieve.”
Go8 chair Peter Hoj said: “This is a good set of results – in university terms it’s a distinction. We are happy to see that student satisfaction is high at all Australian universities.”
Professor Hoj said the data was an important tool for students but should only be a part of their decision-making.
The Turnbull government will use the May budget to announce a new package of university reforms, aimed at saving the budget money.
Plans to introduce deregulated fees for flagship courses have been dropped but increases in student fees and a tightening of the HECS loan program remain on the cards.
The information, based on responses from more than 178,000 students, will be uploaded on Wednesday to the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website, which allows prospective students to compare detailed data on the nation’s universities.???
Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said the results would allow students to enter the higher education system with “clear eyes” about the courses in which they were enrolling.
“The Turnbull government is determined to drive increased accountability in our higher education system and is committed to delivering greater transparency around how higher education institutions perform and engage and support their students,” Senator Birmingham said.
“The more information that students can have at their fingertips, the better decisions they can make when considering the courses and careers they choose to embark on.”
The website will include the first national survey examining how satisfied supervisors are with recent graduates who have joined their workplace.
The survey, based on responses from more than 3000 employers, shows 84 per cent of supervisors are satisfied with their recent graduates.
Engineering graduates received the highest satisfaction ratings from their supervisors at 89 per cent, while creative arts graduates scored the lowest, at 78 per cent.
The employer satisfaction report finds “employers seem to prefer graduates with vocationally oriented degrees over those with generalist degrees”, especially immediately after graduation.
Fifty-eight per cent of graduates rated their qualification important or very important to their current job, compared with 66 per cent of supervisors.
Supervisors of creative arts, agriculture, management and commerce graduates were the least likely to think the qualification was important for their current employment.
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