Lancs students satisfied, but graduates left grieving

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Lancaster University students are among the most satisfied in the country, but Lancaster graduates find it hard to find work, surveys reveal.

Results of the 2008 National student satisfaction survey, released last month, show that Lancaster students are the most satisfied in the North West and, alongside students from Sheffield and Durham, the whole North of the country.

The survey, completed by over 220,000 students, placed Lancaster joint top in the North and 13th overall in the UK, with 89% of students, compared to a national average of 82%, stating they were ‘satisfied with their course’. Topping the survey was the private institution Buckingham, a small University boasting one of the UK’s best student to staff ratios.

The results of the survey placed Lancaster way above big city academic rivals such as Manchester and Edinburgh, suggesting that the University’s collegiate system and small, intimate, campus community continue to provide a more enjoyable student experience.

The survey was carried out over last year, before the University’s effective takeover of four of the college bars. It remains to be seen how these recent developments will impact upon student satisfaction.

However, the status of student satisfaction surveys as a measure of the quality of a University has been repeatedly called into question. Indeed, for Lancaster students, figures from more mainstream sources are less encouraging.  Despite Lancaster’s excellent student satisfaction ratings, it seems that graduates of the University are still not seen as being as desirable to employers as graduates from rival institutions.

In recent rankings tables, Lancaster scored particularly low when compared to similarly ranked Universities for graduate employability. Lancaster, placed 19th overall inthis year’s Times University Guide , only achieved a score of 60.9% in the ‘graduate prospects’ category of the same table. Newcastle, by comparison, which is just behind Lancaster in 20th, scored 75.3%, and Edinburgh, placed 18th, scored 74.9%.

It is unclear whether the letter in the Freshers’ Week issue of SCAN complaining of employer ‘prejudice’ against Lancaster graduates is borne out by the statistics, or if the Lancaster’s low graduate employment rates are more to do with the need to better prepare students for the the harsh world of the graduate jobs market. Lancaster students may be ‘satisfied’ whilst they are here, but if such imbalances in graduate prospects continue to exist, will they feel the same a few years down the line?

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