Imperial plans for the future of education, as NSS results are revealed

Student satisfaction at Imperial is now at 81%, according to the most recent National Student Survey (NSS).

The results show that overall satisfaction levels have decreased slightly compared to last year’s survey result of 82%.

This year’s survey closed on 30 April 2020 and the response rate from final year undergraduates was 75%, an increase of 1 percentage point on 2019, and an increase of 6 percentage points compared to the higher education sector as a whole.

The College ranked highly among fellow London universities, placing second only to the London School of Economics among Russell Group institutions based in the capital. The College also secured a ranking of 95 o ut of a total of 396 higher education providers covered by the survey, an improvement of 12 places on the previous year.

Strong foundations

Imperial’s Vice-Provost (Education) Professor Simone Buitendijk said: " Our students have expressed good levels of satisfaction with their experience at the College, but we are ambitious to provide them the very best experience and we know there is more work to do. We are listening, taking action, and continuing to invest in order to build upon the many improvements of recent years.

“Academic Year 2019-20 has featured an unsettling amount of upheaval for our entire community. While the disruption has undoubtedly influenced this Survey result in many ways, final year students were encouraged to consider the positives and negatives of their experience across the entirety of their programme. Therefore, we know that part of this result is due to the College successfully removing some of the barriers to student satisfaction, while needing to continue our work on others."

“In recent years we have focussed as a community on delivering improvements in four key areas: culture, learning and teaching, space, and wellbeing. Prof. Buitendijk Vice-Provost (Education)

“ In recent years we have focussed as a community on delivering improv ements in four key areas: c ulture, learning and teaching, space, and wellbeing. Since the last Survey took place this has included consulting students on their views on our substantial programme of classroom and lab renovations. We have also worked hard with Departments to ensure every student receives high-quality feedback for their assessments throughout the academic year.

“We will carefully consider this feedback and make sustained investment in improving our teaching, on-campus facilities, and digital provision. In these extraordinary times our assumptions about what ‘works’ in a university setting are being challenged in ways we could never have imagined. We must take this opportunity to pause, reflect, and work in partnership with students to focus on building a sense of community and belonging, as well as supporting and promoting student wellbeing.

“With continued momentum we know we can achieve lasting change.”

The year ahead

As the College moves into a new era due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the criteria measured by the Survey will need to be met in an entirely different context.

Term begins on 3 October 2020, with programme-specific variations. Students will be warmly welcomed back to College campuses. Social distancing will mean that teaching and research will be delivered as a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote (online) provision in the Autumn term.

Imperial calls this a ‘multi-mode’ approach which means:

On-campus learning, research, training and assessment, will be combined with the benefits of their remote counterparts. At all times social distancing guidelines will be strictly adhered to.

If an undergraduate or taught postgraduate student is unable to travel to campus for Autumn term, the College has made plans for them to receive high-quality and engaging remote learning. Some learning and assessment activities will be very challenging to replace with a remote equivalent. In these cases, they will be moved with minimal disruption to a later date in students’ programmes.

MRes and Doctoral students engaged in on-campus research are making a gradual return to laboratories and study facilities throughout the summer.

Professor Simone E Buitendijk MD, MPH, PhD
Office of the Provost