Student satisfaction in private providers rises

Learners are more likely to recommend a private learning provider than a general FE college, according to new survey

Kate Parker

Student satisfaction survey, provide learning providers, FE colleges, colleges

FE learners are more likely to recommend a private sector provider than a college, according to a new Department of Education survey.

The latest FE Choices Learner Satisfaction survey, which looks at the learner satisfaction across the sector, found that 78.1 per cent of learners would recommend a general FE and tertiary college. However, 84.1 per cent would recommend a private sector publicly funded provider – up from 82 per cent last year.  

93.2 per cent would recommend another publicly funded provider – which includes local authorities and community learning providers – and 80.8 per cent would recommend a specialist college. 

Background:  Student satisfaction in FE drops

News:  Retain choice in post-16 qualifications, say employers

Quick read:  Milton: 'Too many providers blocked from going into schools'

Satisfaction by subject

The survey, which had more than 290,000 responses, also found that apprentices aged 16-18 are more likely than 19 to 25-year-olds to recommend their training providers. 

When broken down by subjects, apprenticeships in health, public services and care were most likely to be recommended (89.7 per cent), whereas those in information and communication technology were the least (70.2 per cent). 

Overall, satisfaction with teaching fell slightly from last year, from 74.8 per cent to 74.6 per cent. The way in which learners are treated by staff also fell 2 points, from 81.4 per cent in 2017/18 to 81.2 per cent this academic year. 

However, when it came to support on the course, the response of staff to the views of learners, and whether or not the course met expectations, satisfaction was up by 0.4 per cent, 0.8 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively. 

Playing 'a vital role'

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said that it was great to see that 81.4 per cent of all learners would recommend their training provider. 

“Further education providers play a vital role making sure people of all ages and backgrounds can gain the skills they need to go on to have successful careers. We will continue to work with providers to make sure more people receive the best education and training possible and standards remain high,” she said. 

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief policy officer Simon Ashworth said: "This is the latest in a long line of annual surveys either from the government or others showing high satisfaction among learners or employers for both apprenticeship programmes and independent training providers, so this should be the evidence that should be the primary driver of skills policymaking rather than the dubious and misinformed grandstanding that we see about quality sometimes."

He added: "Mistakes made in approving applications when the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers was first set up may have prevented the scores from being even higher but hopefully the current tougher reapplication process will ensure that apprenticeships are only offered by providers in future where satisfaction is almost guaranteed."

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a schools and colleges content producer.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

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