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Birkbeck bucks national trend, improving student satisfaction with teaching, learning opportunities, assessment and feedback, and academic support

Teaching at and overall satisfaction with the College rank highly in National Student Survey 2020, with many subjects performing well nationally.

Birkbeck Malet street building to represent the National Student Survey results

Birkbeck, University of London has bucked the national trend and improved student satisfaction with its teaching, learning opportunities and the quality of its assessment and feedback and academic support, whilst satisfaction with higher education institutions across the rest of the UK has largely remained static, according to the latest National Student Survey published by the Office for Students (15 July). 

The National Student Survey, which is the only official survey of final year students in which all UK universities take part, gathers students’ opinions on the quality of their courses. Open from 6 January to 30 April 2020, it overlapped with the College transitioning to virtual teaching, learning and assessment in late March because of Covid-19. Sixty one percent of Birkbeck’s students who were eligible to complete the survey did so. 

The survey reveals that 90% of the College’s students find its courses to be intellectually stimulating. This is joint first place in London and ninth in the UK among multi-faculty institutions. 

The survey also reveals that the College’s students continue to be among the most satisfied overall with their studies in London. The College scored an 83% overall satisfaction rating, against a sector average of 82% and a London average of 79%, placing it fourth among multi-faculty higher education institutes in the Capital.  

In addition, Birkbeck scored highly for student satisfaction with teaching, achieving an 85% satisfaction rating, against a London average of 82%, placing it third in the Capital. 

The College also scored exceptionally high student satisfaction rates for many of its individual departments and courses. High scoring departments and courses include: 

  • Maths, which scored an outstanding 100% overall satisfaction rating, placing it top in London and joint top with six other institutions across the UK
  • The Biological Sciences Department, which achieved a 90% satisfaction rating for teaching overall, placing it second in London 
  • Language teaching, which achieved a 90% overall satisfaction rating, placing it 2nd in London 
  • English, which achieved an 89% satisfaction rating for its teaching, placing it 3rd in London 
  • The Philosophy Department, which achieved an 89% satisfaction rating for its teaching, the top score in London 
  • Psychology, which achieved an 86% rating for teaching satisfaction, placing it third in London 
  • Economics, which scored an 86% satisfaction rating for its teaching, putting it second in London 
  • Law, which scored an 85% satisfaction rating with teaching 
  • Business and Management, which achieved an 81% satisfaction rating for teaching overall 
  • Geography, 100% of whose students found courses to be intellectually stimulating, placing the department joint top in the UK with four others. 

Professor Diane Houston, Pro Vice Master for Education said: “I am really pleased that Birkbeck has improved its ratings in some key areas: student satisfaction with teaching; learning opportunities; assessment and feedback; and academic support. I am also delighted that our overall student satisfaction ratings have remained among the highest in London. We have put an enormous amount of work into further improving the student experience at the College over the past year and this is showing in the results of the survey.  We are planning further improvements in many areas and particularly to assessment and feedback and academic support. 

“It is encouraging to see that the work that we have done to move our teaching and assessments online temporarily during the Covid-19 emergency has maintained our student satisfaction ratings. We are continuing to receive excellent feedback from students on the teaching we have been doing in virtual classrooms this term. 

“The National Student Survey provides valuable and important feedback from students about their experiences of studying at Birkbeck and I look forward to analysing the results in more detail so that we can make further improvements to the learning experience at the College over the months ahead.” 


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