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Satisfaction rates among students creep upwards

St Helens College and Herefordshire College of Technology have tied for first place among large HE in FE providers in the annual National Student Survey.

Students at the two colleges reported 91 per cent satisfaction rates, the highest among colleges with over pound;1 million of direct HE funding and a strong enough performance to put them on a par with the sixth highest- scoring university.

Overall satisfaction rose by one percentage point to 77 per cent for full- time students at FE colleges, compared with 83 per cent in HE institutions. Among part-time students, 82 per cent in colleges were satisfied.

Other institutions posted even higher satisfaction scores, but these were based on smaller groups of students - for instance, Trafford College's 100 per cent satisfaction rate appears to relate only to students on computer science courses.

City of Sunderland College and New College Durham scored the next highest satisfaction rates among large providers, both with 89 per cent. They were followed by Leeds City College's 88 per cent.

The two largest HE in FE providers, Newcastle College and Blackburn College, had satisfaction rates of 79 per cent and 81 per cent respectively. The lowest survey score among the pound;1 million HE in FE providers was at Lakes College West Cumbria, where 54 per cent of students said they were satisfied.

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said: "The results show only very slight increases in overall student satisfaction, and at a time of severe funding pressures it is more important than ever that students are involved in shaping their curriculum to ensure progress is made in the future. After years of work by students and students' unions it's good to see some modest improvement in assessment and feedback scores."

Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which publishes the survey, said as students were asked to pay more, the results of the NSS "will only grow in importance".

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