A study commissioned by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) has revealed that more than half of university students believe that teaching standards were better at school. The survey, carried out by polling company Populus on 1,000 final year students at Russell Group and 1994 Group universities, including the University of Sussex, showed that 72 percent of undergraduates would consider the new tuition fees of £9000 per year to be “poor value for money”.
Just 14 percent said that they would have been happy with the quality of their courses had they been charged the full £9,000 per year. To compare, in more recent years of those charged £3,000 per year, almost two-thirds (62 percent) felt that their courses were good value for money. Meanwhile, 42 percent of state pupils and 61 percent of those from private school favoured school teaching, with just 38 percent preferring university teaching.
When asked about school teaching on its own, 98 percent of private school pupils rated it as either good or very good, with 90 percent claiming the same from state schools. These statistics come in the wake of an investigation by ‘The Telegraph’ which found that those beginning their studies in autumn 2012 could be paying up to £50 an hour for lectures, compared to around £15 per hour at the current rate.
Kenneth Durham, headmaster of University College School, Hampstead, and HMC Chairman, said: “at a time when school qualifications are under review and when university tuition is coming under greater scrutiny, these findings prove that the independent sector has much to contribute when considering the crucial transition from school to university.”
The study’s findings have been criticised by Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK, who commented: “It is quite nonsensical to try to compare school teaching with university teaching as they are entirely different things. The different but complementary roles played by the schools and universities do need to be recognised”.
Ms Dandridge also highlighted the fact that only three percent of students considered their university teaching to be either “poor” or “very poor”, and almost two-thirds rated universities’ learning support “highly”.
Jack Dutton, second year Psychology student at the University of Sussex, shares a similar view: “it’s more independent. I wouldn’t say that one’s better than the other, I just think they’re different”.
Another student commented: “I guess it really depends on your own method of learning rather than on how good or bad the teaching quality is. I appreciate the fact that, at uni, we have time to do our own thing. We end up developping other skills, but it doesn’t work for everyone.”