Category Archives: Student satisfaction

NSE results 2017

Scientia’s clients have a strong showing in the 2017 NSE

Student satisfaction continues to be high on the agenda for the HE sector globally. Our Dutch clients are rising to the challenge.

NSE logoThe results of the annual Dutch student survey – the Nationale Studente Enquête (NSE) – were released in May.  Almost 300,000 students answered 43 questions across 22 areas of their course programme.  This resulted in more than 1 million lines of data, rating everything from the content and organisation of teaching to preparation for a professional career.

It’s not hard to see why student satisfaction is so important in Higher Education. As fee-paying ‘customers’, students rightly expect an appropriate level of service. Greater retention and improved graduation rates reflect well on education institutions – in some countries, funding is dependent on it – and students who have had a good experience are likely to become advocates for their place of study, thus ensuring the next generation of applicants. Moreover, alumni at American HE institutions donated some $10 Billion in funding to their former colleges in 2015 – almost double the level of corporate support.

This is the seventh year that Scientia has analysed the results to see how our clients performed in the questions relating to timetabling and space management. Our raison d’être is to help academic institutions improve in these business-critical areas, so improvement is what we’re looking for.

With regards to timetabling, we are delighted to report that 38% of our Dutch Research University clients improved on their 2016 scores, with 31% charting the same as last year.  But our University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool) clients have done even better: 69% have improved on their 2016 timetabling scores.

In the questions relating to the availability of suitable work space, 85% of Scientia’s University clients did the same or better than in 2016; 67% of our Hogeschool clients achieved the same.

A special mention must go to our clients that beat the averages for their type of institution in each of the 7 categories relating to timetabling and space management. Tilburg University, University of Twente, Wageningen University & Research, Hanzehogeschool, Hogeschool Zeeland, Hotelschool Den Haag, Marnix College and Wittenborg University – take a bow!

Wittenborg University’s results are notable as they have achieved an outstanding result for timely notification of changes to the timetable – a direct result of implementing our Publish solution last year. This was also Wittenborg’s first year in the NSE; with scores comparable to many top-tier research universities, they’ve set the bar very high.

Many Dutch institutions will understandably use their NSE scores in their marketing, proudly proclaiming themselves to be the best at X, Y and Z. Being the best is great, but the first step on that journey is simply to be better. Our clients understand that and we’re proud to support them in that aim.

The Importance of Timetabling for Student Satisfaction

Scientia’s analysis of ten years of the UK National Student Survey uncovers four key areas that relate to the success of universities.

Scientia White Paper 2016As we close the door on 2016 and our clients and their students shut down for Christmas, a time of reflection begins.  In our case, this reflection looks back a bit further – ten years, in fact – as we aim to gain insight into the successes and failures of institutions through our analysis of UK National Student Survey data.

Our latest piece of research, a White Paper entitled Placing the Student at the Heart of Higher Education, sheds light on the importance of timetabling and resource scheduling in the fee-paying era.

Since the introduction of student fees in 1998, higher education has become an increasingly commercial entity. From 2017, some UK students will spend in excess of £9,000 a year on tuition fees. This makes it imperative for institutions to rank student satisfaction alongside academic excellence to ensure future success in both attracting and retaining their ‘customers’. Scientia’s analysis of ten years of the National Student Survey has uncovered four key findings that relate to the success of universities.

Satisfaction with organisation and management of university courses is improving

In line with the new challenges of the consumer-focused era, universities are seeking to improve their satisfaction scores by updating and improving their administration systems. In the past five years, university students who strongly agree that their course is well managed and organised has increased by five percent. Indeed, updates to administrative systems have also improved the number of students who agree their timetable is working effectively, with over 75% of respondents agreeing with this statement. In line with this, 78% of students agree and 40% strongly agree that changes to their course or teaching are communicated effectively.

The increasingly tech-focused lives students are living mean that they are more connected now than ever. Scientia’s solutions including Enterprise Foundation – its core timetabling suite – and Scientia Publish improve the student experience by keeping universities up to date with the latest technologies and systems.

Scientia’s clients come out on top in the National Student Survey

In the list of 22 institutions scoring a student satisfaction level of over 90%, 12 of Scientia’s clients featured. Students at these institutions reported an overall improved satisfaction level compared to their peers at universities that do not use Scientia’s solutions. Aberystwyth, for instance, charted the second biggest improvement this year, reaching the top 10 with an overall satisfaction score of 92%, up 9% on 2015.

Looking specifically at the Organisation and Management questions over 10 years, Scientia’s clients fill seven of the top 10 positions, showing just how important a successful timetabling and resource scheduling system is in improving the performance of higher education institutions.

To find out more about the success of our clients and solutions, please read our other blog, Institutions using Scientia’s solutions have a strong showing in the UK National Student Survey.

Organisation satisfaction varies across the country

With different organisational challenges that need to be overcome, the Organisation and Management results of institutions varied dramatically. Breaking the results down into regions, Northern Ireland came out on top with a satisfaction score of over 80%, whereas London brought up the rear with a score 7% lower. London’s challenges may be exacerbated as universities based in the capital tend to have split campuses, limited spare capacity for room scheduling as well as the fact that lecturers and students alike have to commute to and between the sites.

In the North West, universities are likewise split across the urban regions of Merseyside and Greater Manchester with similar complexities. At the other end of the spectrum, the East Midlands universities such as the University of Nottingham have sizeable campuses and good transport links.

Organisation satisfaction varies between subjects

Much to our surprise, History and Philosophy top the list of subjects that students “strongly agree” are well organised and managed, with Business and Engineering coming middle of the pack and Medicine bringing up the rear. With its complicated and varied schedules, Medicine will benefit most from a centralized timetabling approach. Scientia has been able to dramatically improve the organisation of complex schedules at the School of Health Sciences at City University, London, after the organisation adopted our centralised timetabling system.

Conclusion

In the student-as-consumer age, customer satisfaction counts. As has been demonstrated – and much to our expectation and satisfaction – Scientia’s solutions are at the forefront of delivering successful organisational and timetabling solutions to higher education institutions, improving our clients’ standings in the National Student Survey. Our student-focused solutions help our clients to deliver the best educational experience with the latest technologies to ensure future success.

Why we sponsor the Times Higher Education Awards

Recognising success in higher education is vital for a thriving sector, says James Grashoff, Head of Sales and Marketing EMEAA at Scientia.

Scientia presents the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology Award at the Times Higher Education Awards
James Grashoff, right, and Richard E Grant, second from right, present the Award for Outstanding Contriution to Innovation & Technology to staff from Nottingham Trent University

In November, I had the honour of presenting the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology Award at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards in London.  Widely recognised as the Oscars of the UK higher education sector, the THE Awards were set up to shine a spotlight on the very best that UK universities and colleges have to offer.  Award categories cover everything from Research Project of the Year to Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community – and all points in between.

This was Scientia’s third consecutive year of sponsoring the Awards.  Not only is it a unique opportunity to network with some of the most influential people in our sector, but over the years we have been able to invite many senior staff from the institutions we support to celebrate the nominees and winners with us.  In short, it’s a fantastic way to see the breadth and volume of exemplary work going on in UK universities today.

As a Company, we believe in recognising and celebrating the success of others in our field.  That’s why we chose to sponsor the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation & Technology category, won this year by Nottingham Trent University where Paul Evans, Professor of Applied Imaging Science, and colleagues have made huge strides in developing 3D X-ray scanning, which is helping to make airports and air travel safer across the world.  As someone with more than his fair share of air miles, I want to personally thank Paul and his team for their efforts.

Would it have been nice for a Scientia client to win the Award we sponsored?  Of course!  But it’s hard to be disappointed: a quick glance reveals that almost 60% of the shortlist and more than 40% of the winners are Scientia clients.  To know we are trusted by so many institutions at the top of their game is both humbling and extremely gratifying.  That trust is highly motivating as we get ever closer to the delivery of our next-generation timetabling solution, based on innovative Cloud technologies.

We were particularly thrilled to see Aberystwyth shortlisted in the Most Improved Student Experience category.  A lower-than-expected result in the Organisation and Management section of the 2012 UK National Student Survey was the catalyst for their journey of improvement.  In 2013, Aberystwyth commissioned Scientia to undertake a Business Process Review which led to a complete rethink of its timetabling and space management processes.  Teaching space is now largely centrally-owned, meaning that formerly ‘hidden’ spaces devolved to Faculties are now visible to the central Timetabling Team.  By using our software’s auto-scheduling functionality, Aberystwyth has been able to optimise its use of rooms and resources, significantly improving utilisation rates.  The result: Top 4 in the UK and 1st in Wales for overall Student Satisfaction.  Jackie Sayce, Institute Manager at Aberystwyth, was kind enough to acknowledge the role successful timetabling has played there in our 2016 White Paper.

Above all else, we are thrilled to have contributed to the £10,000 raised by the event for the Nightline charity – a student listening service run by students, for students.  Every night of term, student volunteers answer calls, emails, instant messages, texts and talk in person to their fellow university students about anything that’s troubling them.  At a time when 1 in 3 students experiences distress at night, it’s a vital service – and one very close to my own heart, as I was a student volunteer whilst studying at Lancaster University some 35 years ago

Well done to all the nominees and winner at the 2016 THE Awards.

Institutions using Scientia’s solutions have a strong showing in the UK National Student Survey

UK student satisfaction at an all-time high

It’s that time of year again in the UK when students’ views about their institutions are published, analysed, and pored-over. On Wednesday, the results of the National Student Satisfaction Survey were released. Since its inception 11 years ago, over 2.5 million final-year undergraduates have taken part in the survey, organised by HEFCE, which consists of 23 questions spread across categories including teaching, assessment, academic support and – of particular interest to us – organisation and management, including the quality of the timetable and notification of changes. Here’s a nice infographic from the HEFCE website which shows its reach and engagement:UK Student Satisfaction Survey 2016

First things first: well done to all the participating institutions;  86% of the 300,000+ students who responded said that they were satisfied with their course, the same as the all-time high recorded in the 2014 and 2015 results. How to interpret this stellar result in the £9k-a-year fee era? It’s likely that universities realise they must work extra-hard to make the cost of an undergraduate degree seem worthwhile. In the student-as-consumer age, customer satisfaction counts.

But the real question on our mind was this: how did the institutions using our timetabling and resource-management solutions fare? A quick glance at the top 20 on the THE website revealed that no fewer than eight (40%) of our clients feature. Better still, The University of Law takes joint first place with a whopping 97% satisfaction score. Clients Keele and St Andrews share joint fourth place with 94%, and Aberystwyth squeaks into the top 10 with an admirable score of 92%, up no less than 9 points on their 2015 score – the second-biggest improvement of any institution this year.

Further down the table, Exeter, Lancaster, Dundee and Bath all put in a strong performance at 90% satisfaction or above. All in all, a fantastic result for some of our clients. But how much of their success can we attribute to the organisation and management of the courses – something our solutions directly influence?

The importance of the timetable in student satisfaction

The organisation and management section consists of three statements:

  • The timetable works efficiently as far as my activities are concerned
  • Any changes in the course or teaching have been communicated effectively
  • The course is well organised and running smoothly

We analysed the results from ten years of data and found some very interesting insights. We’re thrilled to report that Scientia’s clients filled seven of the top ten slots (70%) relating to organisation and management, and that the students attending institutions where our scheduling software is used report an overall improved satisfaction level compared to their peers.

Scientia-Top10-Satisfied with organisation and management_70%

Going deeper, if we analyse the results regionally we see a large difference. Northern Ireland’s institutions lead the way with their organisation and management results, whereas the London institutions have the worst showing. That’s important data for us, and something to address with existing and future clients.

UK Student Satisfaction Survey 2016

We are delighted to see continued improvement in universities’ organisation and management over the past ten years. As the chart below shows, 2016 is the best-ever for satisfaction.

UK Student Satisfaction Survey 2016