According to a survey published by the Higher Education Authority, technological universities scored higher than universities in a range of areas from more effective teaching practises, more supportive environments and higher-quality interactions.

The 2021 Irish Survey of Student Engagement took place earlier this year and received a total of  43,791 responses. The annual report publishes the results of a vast range of questions put to students about their college experience.

While universities fell short of technological universities in the areas of teaching practises, supportive environments and quality of interactions, they did score higher in the area of higher-order learning which involves problem-solving and critical thinking.

The report found that two-thirds of all respondents said that the goals and requirements of their course were clearly explained by teaching staff or lecturers. However, just over a third said that they were provided feedback on drafts from lecturers or teaching staff or gave quick and in-depth feedback on assignments or tests.

The report notably found vastly different scores given by first-year students compared to final year students. This was likely exasperated by the fact that first-year students taking part in the survey were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions placed on learning in higher education.

The survey did not just focus on learning and teaching practices, however. Over 25% of respondents said their university or college placed ‘very little’ emphasis on social opportunities with just 12% answering ‘very much’ to the same question. The same response has come down from 23% just three years ago.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents did say their overall experience in their higher education institution was either good or excellent, while 86% stated they would likely attend the same institution if they could start again.

Conor Paterson – Co-Editor