Student complaints and commendations in higher education

With higher education institutions now able to charge up to a maximum of £9,000 in tuition fees per year student expectations are growing. Students want to feel they are obtaining value for money from the cost of their studies and increasingly, institutions need to recognise their students as stakeholders and customers.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) surveyed just over 15,000 full-time undergraduate students across the UK, in all years of study, for their annual student academic experience survey. 34 per cent of English students (paying tuition fees of up to £9,000) consider that ‘they get poor or very poor value for money’, compared to 6 per cent of Scottish students studying in Scotland (who pay no tuition fees). It is clear that perceptions of value are intrinsically linked to whether, or how much, the student pays and perceptions of value may link to the number of complaints.

RSM has recently published an analysis of higher education institutions’ risk registers. Our analysis of risk registers from the period 2012 to 2014 found that, whilst relatively few complaint related risks were recorded on the corporate risk register, risks with regards to student satisfaction accounted for six per cent of all of the risks identified. Student satisfaction related risks accounted for 4.5 per cent of all risks recorded in 2012; they accounted for seven per cent in 2013 and six per cent in 2014. This upward trend supports the attention that institutions continue to give to their students’ experience and even more focus on student satisfaction and the need to provide a student experience that meets expectations.

Download this briefing for further information on the institutional approaches and good practice that have been identified from our reviews of student complaints and commendations.

For more information please get in touch with Lisa Randall or your usual RSM contact.