One of the biggest questions floating around higher education today is, what should a student expect to receive for paying as much as £9,000 a year? Some young people may answer; a good job, a decent degree, or a chance to study something they show interest in, however, are these the only concerns undergraduates should have?
Students who fill out the NUS survey each year express their opinion on the courses, universities and on higher education once they have graduated – but is one chance enough to really get the full story? Once students have graduated they sigh in relief and currently have an aura of accomplishment following around them wherever they go for three months – basically, they are on a degree-related high sense of state which can cloud judgement.
Universities need to increase attention for students throughout the degree and find out how to improve student well-being and satisfaction for the entire process, where it really matters. Students won’t care or benefit from exposing harsh truths once they have rented their cap and gown.
Furthermore, institutions seem more concerned at getting students in some ‘type’ of job, and when alumni ring up graduates 6 months after graduating probably display a lack of care as to whether the job that individual is currently in, is the one that they spent three to four years aspiring to. Universities are very much concerned about employability figures and offering young people the chance to get a ‘good’ job at the end of it – where they can make £6,000 more a year than their peers without a degree, before taxes, and without including student loan repayments.
With this in mind, students were surveyed in their experiences and how satisfied they were during their studies and it showed that they scored 5.2 out of 7 which is exactly the same for the general UK population – so students are as happy with their lives as everybody else in the country. The results also detailed that students get happier throughout their course, which could be because they can see the end of the tunnel, but that could be our own bitter thoughts of university dissertations clouding our perceptions. And to no surprise, more than 60% of students only attend university to get that ‘good job’, and they are, which is surprising, concerned with more than just a high salary. Students want to achieve status in a job that they deem ‘good’ or valuable.
Also, which isn’t surprising again as we all aim high, but nearly half of students expect to get a first, but these expectations become more realistic over time and students then drop to expecting a 2:1. Is this response due to overestimating their own ability, or not being fully prepared for university and student lifestyle?
Therefore, understanding and measuring student well-being should be valued hand-in-hand with employability as this is what aids students feeling satisfied in their student life and thereafter. Many institutions and universities like to think of themselves as preparing young individuals for life, but to them that just means obtaining a job that earns more than £21,000 a year after 5 years within the company, and that doesn’t equate to life satisfaction, or even more importantly, life happiness at all.
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