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Satisfaction rates among postgraduate students on taught courses are at their highest for eight years

29 Nov 2023 | Advance HE Advance HE’s Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2023 shows overall satisfaction is continuing to recover post-pandemic, with satisfaction greatest among overseas students.

More than eight out of ten postgraduate students on taught courses are satisfied with their overall experience, according to a new report.

That means overall satisfaction has now fully recovered following a Covid-related dip and now stands at its highest level since 2016.

Advance HE’s Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2023 draws on responses from nearly 84,000 postgraduate taught students in 101 institutions across the UK.

Among its findings it showed:

  • 83% of students were satisfied overall with their experience, up one per cent on 2022 and the highest since 2016 and 2014 when it also reached 83%.
  • Satisfaction levels among non-EU overseas students have continued to increase and now exceed by a sizeable margin those of UK students across all measures of the postgraduate experience – including teaching, engagement with the course, assessment, skills development and course organisation.
  • 18% of postgraduate taught students had considered leaving their course and, of those, the number who cited financial difficulties increased from 8% in 2022 to 11% in 2023.
  • UK students were considerably more likely to consider leaving their course than overseas students – with 29% of UK students considering leaving in comparison to, for example, students from India, of whom only 6% had considered leaving.
  • Women and non-binary students were more likely to consider leaving their course, as were those who studied mainly online.
  • Students who had had free school meals as children were more likely to consider leaving their course, particularly because of financial difficulties, and this differential continued even among students aged 36 and above.

Advance HE Survey Executive and report author, Jason Leman, said:

“PTES gives a unique insight into the experiences of postgraduate students on taught courses in the UK and provides a wealth of insights to help providers consider the changing needs and aspirations of students.

“This year, in our commentary report, we have focussed on students’ experiences based on their country of origin and we also examine why students consider leaving their courses.

“One of the most striking findings is the extent to which overseas students are increasingly likely to be satisfied with their experience. This highlights the successful expansion of taught postgraduate study for these students across UK higher education, particularly in business and management, but by no means limited to that subject area.

“UK students are much more likely to consider leaving their course than overseas students, often due to the difficulty of balancing their studies with pressures of the day job or looking after family. It’s also clear that finances are becoming an increasing source of challenge for all students, both UK and overseas.

“The report lays bare the extent to which potential childhood disadvantage continues to shape students’ prospects well into adulthood. Even twenty years or more after leaving school, students who had free school meals as a child were significantly more likely than those who didn’t to consider leaving their course.  Students who had received free school meals were twice as likely to say that financial difficulties were the main reason they thought about leaving. The socioeconomic background of postgraduate students on taught courses has a persistent and enduring impact on the pressures they face during their studies. This raises wider questions for the sector on whether the support and funding is there to give equal chances to students regardless of background.”

Join our webinar, at 10.00, on 7 December 2023, where we will be discussing the findings of the recently released sector reports for the 2023 Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research Experience Surveys (PRES & PTES).

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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