• Richard Fay

    I agree that this may not be the most appropriate forum for discussing the possible reasons for the continued ‘poor’ TSS score but it is a rich topic for more private speculation. It is also interesting to note just how important all kinds of ranking (i.e. not just science-oriented research ranking such as the ‘Shanghai’ index but also TTS satisfaction data, not to mention teaching quality data) are scrutinised by universities like Manchester these days. Looking at it from my perpective, I find myself introspecting about the measure for judging my own (and our LTE) contribition to such rankings. Do we contribute sufficiently to student satisfaction (although this is, I think, focused more on undergraduate than PGT or PGR satisfaction, and here we have less of a stake)? Do we contribute sufficiently to teaching quality? (I very much hope and believe so!) Do we contribute to our research ranking? If nothing else, this strengthening Doctoral Community is one such contribution I hope 🙂

  • One could reflect on whether a causal correlation might exist between the increased emphasis in research and the relative decline in the student experience.

    I also note that the reaction of the University has been immediate and essentially consists of putting more money in stutent support infrastructure. One is, however, left wondering whether the sub-optimal student satisfaction rating was due to the resources available to students or other, less tangible, considerations. I am not at all certain that this is an appropriate venue for discussing what such considerations may be, but we could, at very least, reflect privately on the matter.

  • Richard Fay

    The President’s lastest update speaks about UoM rankings, not just this one but also the NSS (students’ satisfaction) in which we do much less well 🙁

    18 August 2011
    …. By far the most important event has been the release of data on the National Student Survey (NSS), which basically tells us what our students think of their University experience. Our overall result for student satisfaction was 79% which is below our benchmark figure and very much lower than most of our comparable institutions. While this result is the same as last year, we have fallen significantly in this league table to the bottom half of all universities in the UK. This is really disappointing given all the efforts we have made, and very disturbing because it suggests that many of our students are not completely satisfied with their experience at The University of Manchester. Students are at the very core of our mission as an educational institution, and we should all be concerned about their educational and wider experience. The NSS score will be a major component of the Key Information Set (KIS) data that will be made available for all HE courses next year and the results will be reflected in the league tables produced by most of the National newspapers. These in turn have a major impact on the University’s reputation more widely and will play a key role in the choices that students from the UK and overseas will make about where to study.

    NSS performance across the University is very variable. There are some disciplines with high scores (over 30 degree programmes achieved scores of 90% or more), some of which have increased significantly and we must applaud these achievements. But our overall performance remains unacceptable. We have too many areas that continue to perform below a level that is acceptable on NSS, and some areas which have declined. Our overall score and position are the measures by which current, past and future students will judge the University. Our NSS score impacts on our academic reputation, on our ability to attract the most able students and the perceived value of a Manchester degree. We will be addressing the quality of student experience as a matter of urgency and will be radically redesigning how some courses are delivered, increasing the number of staff available to teach on some courses and making significant investment in student support, new lecture theatres, laboratories and student study facilities, such as the new £25 million “Learning Commons”, due to open next year.

    There are many measures of research quality. In 2004 we chose to base our measure of success on the Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings because its measures are entirely objective. There are problems with this measure – not least because it fails to address major areas of our activities, e.g. in humanities. Nevertheless, it is good to see that we have climbed from 44th to 38th position this year.

  • Magda Rostron

    Yes, fantastic news – hats off to The University of Manchester!


  • Magdalena De Stefani

    Excellent news!!! I’m proud of us 🙂

  • Richard Fay

    🙂 If only our efforts were indeed so influential.

    But, overall, I am happy to note the simultaneous improvement in Mcr’s research standing and our growing confidence and presence as a doctoral community.

  • cum hoc ergo propter hoc, and all that… Combining classical eloquence with cutting-edge communications technology, you see. And good looks, of course. Now, if we also managed to put together a decent rowing team…

  • Richard Fay

    It’s amazing, how much impact one doctoral comunity blog can have ….. 🙂