2021 student satisfaction with study: better than ’20 but still a way to go

But it’s not back to pre-Covid levels

The student experience survey for 2021 records a lift in overall satisfaction from 69 per cent in 2020 to 73 per cent in 2021. However this was still significantly lower than 78 – 80 per cent range recorded in pre-Covid surveys.

And international students continue more dissatisfied than locals. While internationals’ satisfaction lifted in ‘21,  overall it is 7 per cent lower than locals in the 2021 survey, same as in 2020, (the gap was 4 per cent in 2019).

The SES is based on all-institution surveys for the Commonwealth funded Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching. It records results for UG and coursework PGs at HE providers.

Students did not mark institutions down on all attributes during the pandemic, “student support” was steady (74 per cent in 2019 and 2020) and 73 per cent in 2021.

However “learner engagement” fell from a 60 per cent positive in 2019 to 44 per cent in the first lock-down year, improving to 49 per cent in 2021. The lift in 2021 is due in part to commencing students recording higher satisfaction than continuing survey responders. This “may be due in part to a change in the expectations of commencing students entering higher education after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the QILT report states.

Overall satisfaction scores: Only a couple of universities went backwards in 2021. Murdoch U and Uni New England both declined marginally. And some lifted significantly, including,

new u Avondale University which was up 7 per cent (to 87 per cent). Flinders U improved 70 to 78 per cent) Griffith U lifted just under 7 per cent (to 77 per cent) and Uni Queensland picked up, from 66 to 73 per cent. Uni Sunshine Coast improved by nearly 8 per cent (to 81 per cent).

Monash U and Uni Melbourne both had terrible 2020 overall scores but recovered strongly on overall satisfaction in’21. MU improved from 60 per cent to 70 per cent and Uni M lifted from 52 to 63 per cent – although both remain below the national average.

In a much-needed improvement Uni Melbourne lifted on “learner engagement” from 34 per cent in 2020 to a still not great 43 per cent in 2021 (4 per cent under average).

The SES report suggests, “while institutions have been able to respond and adapt to some extent to the changed teaching and learning environment, challenges remain while on-campus learning and extracurricular activities continue to be curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”