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Student Satisfaction Surveyed

Only 49% of international students are satisfied with the availability of financial support in Oxford, says a recently published survey
Hannah Grosskopf on Sunday 22nd May 2011
Photograph: Kathleen Bloomfield

Recently published results from the Student Barometer survey have revealed what students think about their experiences at Oxford. The survey, which covered areas as diverse as social life and support services, has shown what international students think about their financial situation.

According to the survey, only 49 percent of international students are satisfied with the current levels of financial support offered by colleges and the University, while 64 percent were satisfied with living costs in Oxford.

A Univ first year from New Jersey who applied to universities in both the US and the UK said, “For many people the lack of financial support may put them off from coming to Oxford particularly as, in order to get a visa you need to have enough money in your bank account already.

“Also, most of the Oxford bursaries are not available for international students which, compared with the fact that most Ivy League schools don’t look at nationality when assigning their very generous financial aid, puts Oxford at a competitive disadvantage.”

Although 85% of international students were satisfied with their overall arrival experience, the survey highlighted that opening a bank account was an area which posed difficulties, with only 51 percent satisfied with this process.

Clare Joyce, an international student from Univ, said, “it took me a week to get an appointment which was really annoying especially as in fresher’s week there are so many other things you want to be thinking about while trying to settle in.”

When asked about this the University said that they were trying to address this issue by hosting one to one meetings with each bank and inviting bank representatives to international student orientation.

The survey also revealed how experiences differ between colleges. International students at Lincoln were the most satisfied at 97 percent which was 20 percentage points higher than at Teddy Hall, the lowest ranking college.

Lincoln’s JCR President, Kevin Smith, himself an international student, commented, “I was delighted - but in no way surprised - to hear that Lincoln ranked highest for international student satisfaction. “Coming from overseas, I think what students want is to find a strong support network and immediate group of friends, and my experience has been that Lincoln provides both from day one.”

The survey showed that many international students applied uniquely to institutions in the UK, however for 92 percent of undergraduates questioned the biggest factor was the institution itself rather than the country.

The survey also revealed how domestic students are funding their studies ahead of nationwide changes to univerisity funding. 83 percent of current undergraduates who responded to the survey said they were using a government loan, while 54 percent of post-graduates were receiving funding from the Research Council.

Jesus College seems to have been Oxford’s most enthusiastic advocates with over 95 percent of students declaring that they would recommend the university while, at St Anthony’s, only 64 percent of students gave such a positive response.

For domestic students the top reason given for this recommendation was the organisation of their course, while employability was the most common reason for international students.

The University says it intends on running discussion groups with students to try to identify areas in which they can improve the student experience. It has recently agreed to a new partnership with statistical agency, i-graduate, in an attempt to streamline and integrate the process and get more useful responses.

Jared Hutchings, the co-ordinater of the survey, said that from last autumn students are sent only one survey per year, which simplified the system. He said, “Colleges can view the data by college, which means there is less of a need for additional and separate college surveys.

“Fewer surveys overall across the colleges and University also means hassling students less often, and this may well explain the relatively good response rate we achieve for the Student Barometer (33%).”

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