Student satisfaction in South London among worst in country

By Ryan Hogg

Student satisfaction at South London universities was among the worst in the country in 2021.

This year’s rankings were heavily influenced by the impacts of Covid-19, in the first full academic year of mostly remote teaching.

Four universities based in South London ranked in the bottom 15 for student experience, a reflection of the challenges in adapting to remote learning for creative-focused universities in lockdown London.

Phoebe Little, 21, a third-year film student at London South Bank University, has been left disappointed by disruptions to her university experience, which have included strikes, a pandemic and a cyber security attack which took down the university’s systems for remote working.

She said: “I’ve been in university for five months over the last two-and-a-half years, so I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t hostility in my course.

“I felt like creative subjects were being held back.”

Phoebe thinks it is unfair that her fees have stayed the same throughout this disruption, comparing it to a loan that was never repaid.

“I feel like there have been a lot of empty promises from the university, and a lack of student input.”

London South Bank, which dropped to 127 overall this year, commented: “To achieve LSBU’s mission to transform the lives of our students, communities and society, we are continually improving our courses to give LSBU students the right options and the employer-ready skills they need to build successful careers.”

Phoebe is optimistic about changes made this year, including a full programme of freshers events and encouragement from teaching staff.

“South Bank do try really hard at the start of term to engage everyone in events.

“We’ve got a lot of societies, and there is funding for them to help with student engagement, and there is enthusiasm from the university,” she said.

“Hopefully we aren’t near the bottom for long.”

University of the Arts London (UAL), whose Communications College is based in Elephant & Castle, ranked 129th for student experience, but 52nd overall.

James Purnell, president and vice-chancellor of UAL, said: “UAL’s NSS score reflects the wider national trend, particularly amongst creative education providers.

“Our relative position has remained stable in comparison to our subject peer group, where scores have fallen by over 10 per cent on average.

Overall rankings returned mixed results for South London universities, as two universities rose while three fell this year.

Goldsmith’s University experienced the biggest increase across London’s Universities last year, rising 36 places to 61st in the UK.

Goldsmiths said: “This achievement is tribute to the hard work of everyone at Goldsmiths who has been supporting our students throughout the pandemic and helping them to catch up on any learning they may have missed.”

St George’s Medical University, in Tooting, was one of the biggest casualties of the rankings, falling 29 places to 78th in the UK.

The university did, however, rank first in the country for prospects after graduation, with graduates earning an average of £29,000 after university.

St George’s University said: “League table rankings and methodologies regularly change, and these results demonstrate the outcomes of a particularly volatile year, with the pandemic having an even greater impact on health-focused institutions, such as St George’s.

Pictured top: Phoebe Little



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