What teaching experience do university students want?

A new academic year has started, pandemic restrictions have lifted and university rankings have been released. After years of education disruption, 2022 applicants will be paying close attention to the experiences of the 2021 cohort and how well universities are adapting to student needs. So what should you be shouting about to stand out from your competitors?

For this blog, we added questions to TSR Insight’s monthly omnibus survey (TSR Asks) and included student poll results to shed light on what 2022 applicants expect from their university teaching experience.

Poll of current university students

Most want hybrid learning and more human connections

This summer we polled current university students, asking: What support do you most need from unis to return to campus in autumn?

The top three responses were:

  1. Balance of online/in-person learning (27.16%)
  2. Additional face-to-face time with tutors/lecturers (22.22%)
  3. Support connecting with other students (14.81%)

These user comments show how eager students are for in-person teaching to resume:

Speaks volumes about how people actually feel about the decision to be online and face to face this year despite Government guidelines saying it shouldn’t be necessary. Not everyone is high risk for Pete’s sake!
“It just needs to go back to normal.”
“Have I gained experience and learnt knowledge that has been worth the £9250 tuition fee? Definitely not. I’d rather my dental school had taken the decision to halt 2021 admissions and make the entire school repeat the year”

TSR Asks survey of 2022 applicants

At the beginning of each month, TSR Insight surveys our prospective 2022 and 2023 undergraduate university audience to get answers to client questions and gain insight into the key issues affecting students and their decision-making. In July we surveyed 406 prospective university applicants (2022 entry) about their learning preferences:

More than half would prefer a hybrid learning approach to lectures

We asked: “Thinking about when you start university, and assuming we are post-pandemic at that stage, how would you prefer to access the following…?” 

51% of respondents wanted a combination of online and face-to-face lectures.

Most want practicals to take place face-to-face on campus

The survey found that nearly all students felt practicals should be delivered in-person and on campus, with just 12% stating that they would be happy for any of this teaching to be delivered online.

As we enter the colder months, many are speculating about the increased risk of Covid cases and further restrictions. If more safety measures are introduced, this could have a disproportionate impact on the satisfaction levels of students studying practical-heavy courses.

However, recent trends also suggest that more students are opting for highly practical vocational courses (such as subjects allied to Medicine). It will be interesting to see how universities balance increased demand for courses and in-person provision with student safety.

The majority of 2022 applicants expected to be able to view lectures and tutorials on-demand

In recent research, we have noted a shift in student expectations around online university experiences. In Wave 4 of Navigating Changing Options (March 2021), 97% said they wanted to keep some features of lockdown learning (such as flexible study times and studying from home).

In the TSR Asks survey, we asked: “For face-to-face learning on campus at university, do you expect to be able to view the following online on-demand afterwards?” (Yes)

2022 applicants were overwhelmingly in favour of universities providing on-demand recordings of lectures. The results also suggest that prospective students want the recordings to supplement rather than replace face-to-face teaching. You can download a one-page summary of these findings here.

Want to find out more about 2022 applicants and how you can win them over? Or perhaps you have a burning question to put to our applicant audience via our TSR Asks survey?

Get in touch:

For support with student research or your applicant recruitment campaigns, please contact our team:
0800 999 3222
For research needs, please complete this form.

By now your pre-application campaign should really be ramping up. When we polled 2022 applicants back in July, 30% said they had started a university application and a further 30% said they were actively researching universities. (See university marketing solutions to boost your 2022 applications here).

What should you do next?

Find out more about TSR Asks and how you can include your question(s) in our next survey.

TSR Asks Monthly Online survey of The Student Room community, prospective 2022 university applicants, 406 responses (2022 entry), (Fieldwork 3rd – 5th July 2021)
The Student Room onsite data and polls