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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 17 September 2007

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Higher education survey reveals continued student satisfaction

THE 3rd annual National Student Survey (NSS) shows students have a high and sustained level of satisfaction with their experience of higher education. Overall, 81% of students were satisfied with their experience at university or college. The table below shows the 2007 survey alongside results from 2006.

Questions % Avg Agreement
2006 NSS 2007 NSS
1 to 4 The teaching on my course 81 82
5 to 9 Assessment and feedback 61 62
10 to 12 Academic support 69 71
13 to 15 Organisation and management 69 71
16 to 18 Learning resources 78 80
19 to 21 Personal development 76 77
22 Overall satisfaction 80 81

The figures in this table are for students at universities and colleges in England. The survey also covers higher education students in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and 8 Scottish universities. Responses from some students on initial teacher training courses and NHS funded courses are also available.  The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is working with the Higher Education Academy to support higher education institutions in responding to the findings of the survey, and further improve the learning and teaching experience of their students.

The NSS data will be available on a new web-site – Unistats.com. The site will help prospective higher education students compare information about different subjects and institutions when researching which courses to choose.  Unistats will provide information that is not available anywhere else, in a user friendly, accessible format. The site will enable users to:-

• read feedback from over 177,000 students on the quality of their higher education experience

• compare UCAS points and other information for different subjects and institutions

• find out the achievements of recent graduates and discover what sorts of jobs they are doing six months after they finish their courses.

Professor Michael Arthur, who chairs the NSS steering group, said the 2007 survey drew on the experiences of more final-year students than ever before – giving prospective undergraduates a wealth of first-hand guidance to help them to choose their future course.

Professor Arthur, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leeds, added:- ‘In its 3 years, the survey has grown to become a vital tool for prospective students, offering detailed information which had never before been available.  One key reason this is working is because everybody benefits. New students are better informed; universities and colleges are getting a clear picture of what they are doing well and where they can improve; and our graduates value the opportunity to give something back to the higher education system, putting the benefit of their experiences at the disposal of others.’

Professor David Eastwood, HEFCE’s Chief Executive, commented:- ’I’m delighted that for the third year running, the results of the NSS have improved. Higher education institutions are taking the results of the survey very seriously and taking action to continuously improve their students’ learning and teaching experience.’

Wes Streeting, Vice President of the National Union of Students said:- ‘I wish I’d had something like this when I was applying to university. With even more choices for students in terms of subjects and courses available, it makes sense that they can get hold of more, and better, information. It’s also really important for prospective students to hear what others thought about the quality of life at an institution."

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Intellectual Property and Quality, Lord Triesman, speaking at the launch of the 2007 NSS results, said:- ‘An overall satisfaction rating of 81 per cent is an excellent endorsement of higher education in this country. The NSS, and the broader information available on the new Unistats web-site, are extremely useful sources of information for potential students. The survey itself is also a helpful tool for institutions to identify areas that might need sharpening up.’

The launch of the Unistats website has been delayed to enable changes to be made following user testing.

Testing was carried out as part of the design process and the changes are being implemented to ensure the site is fit for purpose, to support potential students make choices about what and where to study.

BIOMETRICS CRISIS

FORGET signatures and PIN numbers, the UK should start using finger prints and iris recognition to prove who we are really are, according to new research.  Although it may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, a whopping 83% of Mancunians say they would be happy to swap their Chip and PIN keypad for a finger print reader if it meant their personal details were safer.  And it’s not surprising as 93% think using finger prints to prove who you are is much more secure than the traditional signature.

Finger print and eyeball recognition, otherwise known as biometrics, is already part of everyday life in America as all visitors have to be finger printed before they enter the country. In Holland iris scanning is used to fast-track frequent fliers through its security checkpoints at Schiphol Airport.  And the poll of 3,000 Brits, by Life Assistance firm CPP, revealed that a staggering just under 3/4 of Mancunians think the UK should follow suit.  71% think it will help to protect against fraud and 11% say it would be a good thing because they struggle to remember all the various PIN numbers and passwords they need and find it irritating to always use them.

One respondent definitely thinks it will be a good idea after witnessing how easy it is to spend someone else’s money at the moment.  Having taken her boss’s credit card and PIN number to buy something on his behalf, she forgot the number en route and signed for the transaction using her own signature by accident. The assistant never checked her identity or signature and she walked out of the shop with her purchase.

But not everyone thinks biometric identification is the way forward without problems – just under half of Mancunains think it would restrict modern life.  Over 1/5th of people from Manchester also think finger imaging treats people like presumed criminals and 9% think it is just another way of keeping tabs on people.  Just under half are also concerned about the hygiene when scanning eyeballs or finger prints.

Almost 88% of the 3000 people who took part in the survey would also still be concerned that their personal details could still be copied somehow.  An anxious 88% would also worry that all their personal information could be stolen if someone managed to hack into the database.  Just over 1/4 think biometrics is just a gimmick and will never actually happen.  And despite the majority of people thinking it is a good idea, 3/4 of Mancunians wouldn’t be willing to pay anything towards making biometric security checks a reality.

Danny Harrison, a spokesman for CPP Identity Protection said:- “People are clearly aware of the need to tackle issues such as fraud and terrorism in the UK, and in principle, are behind biometrics or something that will solve these modern problems. There are, however, concerns around how biometrics will work in the real world and some fundamental questions that need answering around issues of privacy, data protection, hygiene and cost. It is important the Government takes the public’s views into consideration and addresses the scepticism that currently exists and doesn’t push ahead with biometric identification regardless. If it does it could be an expensive flop.”

The poll also revealed that Brits consider the rising threat of identity theft and the risk of terrorism as the driving force behind the need for biometric security.

Get bowled over at the BII North West event

GUESTS at the BII North West event on Wednesday 26 September at Lancashire County Cricket Club, Old Trafford, Manchester will be able to enjoy a wine tasting with Mathew Clark. The tasting will follow a talk about wine and food matching.

The event starts at 9.30 and concludes at 2pm. Lunch is served at 12.30pm. The event is open to all licensees on the North West area.

Other speakers at the event include local licensee Francis Carroll, from Cabbage Hall gastopub in Cheshire, who will talk about how his vision for success took him from a standing start to the creation of a fabulous destination pub. Phil Dixon, industry expert, will speak about how to stay ahead of the competition and other business building tips on how to prosper from the smoking ban and how to save money on suppliers will be provided by the remaining speakers.

Terri Leahy, Chairman of BII North West Region, said:- “We have a packed agenda for the event at Old Trafford. It is bursting will business building and inspirational ideas. I realise that licensees are busy people but this event is well worth taking time out of the business.   Our events are an ideal way for licensees to network in a relaxed environment and to take away new ideas to help their businesses flourish.”

To book a place at the event visit www.bii.org  and click on events or call the BII Events Team on 01276 417874.

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