May 01, 2008

Kingston University and Student Satisfaction Survey

This is how certain persons (MPEG file) at Kingston University instructed a specific group of students on how to fill in the Student Satisfaction Survey.

More specifically, Fiona Barlow-Brown and Fred Vallee-Tourangeau from Kingston University told students that:

• they will be 'hounded' if they do not fill in the survey;

• they will have to logon to computers to fill in the survey (does this guarantee anonymity?);

• if Kingston comes down to the bottom of the table in terms of student satisfaction, nobody would want to employ them because employers will think that their degree is 'shit';

• if they think something on the survey is worth a '4', students are encouraged to make it a '5' because that is what everybody else is doing (beef up the score); and

• the student satisfaction survey is not the place to provide negative feedback for modules that students are not happy with.

Considering the above statements, it is natural to ask a number of questions:
  1. Does the recommendation that student-satisfaction surveys be made public in an effort to improve the quality of institutions, put pressure on academics and administrative staff to 'manipulate' outcomes?

  2. In this survey where the scale ranges from 1 to 5, how appropriate is it to tell students that a '4' should be rounded-up to a '5' because everybody else does the same?

  3. Administering the survey through individual student logon, does not guarantee anonymity. Is this right?

  4. Do employers look at student satisfaction surveys to determine if a degree is 'shit'?

  5. Why is not the student satisfaction survey the place to provide negative feedback for modules that students are not happy with?
Professor Lee Harvey was recently suspended from the Higher Education Academy because he expressed in public his views about the survey. Among other things, Prof. Harvey wrote: '... This valuable source of information [the survey] has been under-exploited...' Judging from the manner Fiona Barlow-Brown and Fred Vallee-Tourangeau from Kingston University briefed the students, could it not be argued that the process of conducting the survey is open to subtle but potentially decisive 'manipulations'?

Lastly, how indicative of the way Kingston University deals with students, is the briefing approach adopted by Fiona Barlow-Brown and Fred Vallee-Tourangeau?

We would appreciate some answers from the HEA, Kingston University, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, UniversitiesUK, and of course the National Union of Students.
To download and listen to the recording scroll to the bottom of the web page and click on 'click here to download'.

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