Page 1

University of Portsmouth Students’ Union Student Experience Report 2012

Introduction This report discusses the findings from a programme of research, carried out during November 2011, into the expectations and experiences of students at the University of Portsmouth. The research fell into three key areas titled Better You, Better University and Better Union. The Students’ Union has a vision of making a positive impact with every Portsmouth student. This report aims to raise both the positive experiences and the negative experiences that University of Portsmouth students face during their time studying here. The research programme comprised of both quantitative and qualitative approaches, which were combined to ensure both depth and breadth of findings. The University of Portsmouth Students’ Union ‘Student experience report 2011’ was developed through input by the Students’ Union staff, Sabbatical Officers and the Director of Employability at the University. Students’ Union staff dedicated 255 hours to collecting 2,375 survey responses from Portsmouth students, without the dedication of these staff members, University caretakers and support from the Apple Educational Team, Vimto and Kettle Crisps, who provided product samples and give-aways, this survey would not have been possible.


Contents Page


4 5 6 7

Executive Summary Methodology Vital Statistics Headline Figures

9 9 9 11 11 12 12 13

Better You Volunteering Hard to reach groups Getting your voice heard Important areas for Portsmouth students Students within the community Student services Nightlife

14 14 17 17

Better Union The Student Centre Waterhole Bar Students’ Union operations

19 19 20 21

Better University Value for money Employability University services


Campus communications research

Photography Cover: University of Portsmouth / Page 2: UPSU - Mike Cooter / Page 4: UPSU - Tom Worman / Page 10: University of Portsmouth / Page 13: University of Portsmouth / Page 15: University of Portsmouth / Page 16: UPSU - Mike Cooter / Page 19: University of Portsmouth


Executive Summary stand the priorities of students and ensures that our strategic direction is in line with these priorities. It has been shown that safety within the community is a large concern for students and our strategic plan incorporates a community theme to try and tackle this. Over the next two years we will be establishing a network of community reps and outreach in the local community alongside running crime awareness campaigns to support students to have a safe and positive experience of living in Portsmouth. The student experience report is not only a beneficial tool in shaping Union priorities. From conducting this survey it shows that student priorities for the University has remained consistent over the past few years with 13% of students wanting the University to either change the bus route to incorporate Southsea or increase the regularity of the bus service. Students also rated catering, timetabling and faith provision the worst for University services. Although the survey highlights areas of improvement within the Union and University it also highlights the positive aspects that students really value. 90% of students rated Union communications as relevant, 76% of Portsmouth Students are ‘satisfied’ with the Union, 90% of students who used Purple Door rated the service as either very good or quite good, 80% of students said they considered the University to be value for money currently. As a Union it is very important to consult with our membership and ensure that as an organisation we are working on behalf of our membership. It is for this reason why the student experience report is such an important part of our work throughout the year. The student experience report allows us to under-


We hope that you find the results housed within this report as useful and insightful as we have.

Amy Baker Amy Baker President 2011/12

Methodology Data was collected by the Students’ Union across a period of two weeks from the 7th November 2011 until 18th November 2011; the latter of those weeks the survey took place online only.

vices in order from 1 to 13. For each service following this formula generated a percentage rating: (TS/MR)*100 where

Stalls were established across campus in Richmond Building, the University Library, Park Building and the Students’ Union. Students’ Union staff manned these stalls and students were offered the chance of winning prizes as well as instant rewards of free food and drink for completing a survey. The Students’ Union, in question 31, asked the same phrased question that will appear in the National Student Survey 2012. The Union has sought advice from the National Union of Students as to how the results will be published from this survey and the results published in this document are in accordance with the provided formula.

SS = (13-R)*SR TS = Sum of all SS MR = (13*TSR) Key R=Ranking. SR=Service Responses. TSR=Total Service Responses. TS = Total Score MR = Maximum Rating SS = Service Scores A similar process was adopted in calculating the satisfaction ratings for University Services.

Definitely Agree + Mostly Agree = Satisfaction Rating Questions 20 and 29 asked students to rate the University and Union services. In the case of the Union services - the students were asked to rank the ser-

Sabbatical Officer awareness ratings (Q32) were calculated slightly differently using the following formula: (Correct Responses/Total Responses)*100


Vital Statistics The Better Portsmouth survey was completed by 2,375 students at the University of Portsmouth; 1,068 of the forms were completed by hand at survey stations around the campus and a further 1,307 were collected via the Union’s website at Of those who completed the survey 55.7% were male, 44.0% were female and 0.3% chose not to disclose their gender. 97.1% of the students considered themselves to be studying full-time, with the remaining 2.9% considering themselves as part-time students. 80.9% of those surveyed said that they were from the UK, 8.4% were from a country within the European Union and 10.7% classified themselves as an international student. When identifying the level of study that those completing the survey 3.2% were from a foundation course, 88.1% were from an undergraduate course and 8.7% were from postgraduate courses. The students were spread fairly evenly across the 5 faculties with 23.3% from the Business School, 25.9% from Humanities and Social Sciences, 22.7% from Science, 17.8% from Technology and 10.3% from Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI).


Headline Figures

17.3% of students have volunteered

whilst at University here.

80% of Students rate the University as

TOP 3 UNION VALUE FOR MONEY IMPROVEMENTS 1. Toilets (43%) 2. PC Access (34%) 3. Furniture (24%)


UNIVERSITY 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.



just 7% of those students said it would

not be with the new fee structure

90% of students rated



as relevant

of students said that

Union staff were friendly and helpful T A 9.5% of students want the nightclub back at the Union

96% of students consider the Waterhole bar a ‘safe venue’

76% of students are ‘satisfied’ with the Students’ Union PAGE 7

Headline Figures The biggest local issues students students want face are Anti-Social behaviour to get their from locals and peers and crime voice heard by: (particularly Bike Theft) 1. online polls (47%) 8.9% of students want a wider variety of nightlife

49% 90%


2. uni staff (34%) 3. course reps (33%)



lecturers & staff are the best thing

about the university

of portsmouth



60% of students

consider themselves

as involved

with the Union

TOP 3 COURSE REP SKILLS 1. Communication skills 2. Personal skills 3. Awareness skills

13% of students would like the University to either change the bus route to incorporate Southsea or increase the regularity of the University bus.



“It doesn’t try to be a Russell Group University. It clearly puts teaching as a priority and makes students feel wanted. It will keep climbing the tables as a result of it’s own approach”


Better You response being volunteering abroad (42%) followed closely by volunteering to enhance the student expe17.3% of Portsmouth students say they have volun- rience (38%). Just 17.5% of students suggesting that teered during their time at the University of Ports- they were not interested in volunteering at all whilst mouth. When students were asked what areas that studying at the University. they volunteered in, the most popular was within a Students’ Union remit of activities such as the inter- University of Portsmouth male students are 7% less generational project ‘PIPPY’, SU Heroes and the Vol- likely than female students to have volunteered durunteering In Portsmouth scheme (VIP). ing their time studying here. Male students tend to favour volunteering opportunities abroad (38.9%), University services also rated highly at 9.4% in the enhancing the student experience (38.2%) and enviopportunities for volunteering in Portsmouth. Stu- ronmental projects (24.2%) compared to that of fedents indicated they’d been involved in a wide variety male students who favour opportunities to volunteer of volunteering for the University ranging from the abroad (48.2%), with children (47.6%) and to enhance UP for Sport programme, through to Purple Door the student experience (38.3%). and open day support. 86% of Postgraduate students suggested in the surThe research suggests that students have volun- vey that they have not volunteered during their time teered in a wide variety of both local and national at University – the main reason given for this is that remits. On a national scale many of the charities were postgraduates have increased pressures on their time related to health conditions such as Cancer Research and availability. UK, Macmillan cancer support and MENCAP as well as children’s charities such as Child Reach, Save The Students who defined themselves as ‘international’ Children, and Barnados. within the context of this survey volunteered more than those who defined themselves as EU students Whilst national volunteering opportunities took a but not quite as much as those who defined themlarge amount of input from our students, the local selves as UK based students. A large quota of relevel volunteering undertaken equally matched this. spondents from both international students and EU Charities and organisations that benefited from our students suggested that one of the major volunteerstudents volunteering there time locally included ing remits they had participated in was with the Great Wessex Youth Offenders, PARCS, Queen Alexandra South Run. Hospital, Southsea Green House and Groundlings Theatre to name just a few. HARD TO REACH GROUPS VOLUNTEERING

9% of Portsmouth students volunteered within the local community either as Special Constables, for youth groups such as the Scouts or Guides and within local council remits such as Trading Standards. The research indicated there were significant areas of interest for students wishing to volunteer, the top

University of Portsmouth international students also highlighted that beyond the volunteering remits they would like to see more social opportunities that focussed on both networking within their own cultures as well as integrating with UK and European students. One World Week in particular was highlighted a successful event for these students.


Better You

A similar feeling was portrayed by both part-time, mature and postgraduate students who made similar comments with several mature students commenting that they’d appreciate a “mature students welcome meeting at the beginning of each year” such as the “mature students tea and scones get together” that the Students’ Union held.

for updates”. Another student went on to comment “I feel you have to work quite hard to get information and 9 times out of 10 you’re better off just asking a lecturer rather than trying to find out yourself.”

58% of Portsmouth students agreed that the Union provides adequate representation for these groups. The responses in relation to this statistic can be summarised in the words of one student who wrote, “I Mature students in particular feel under-represented do not feel marginalised as a part-time, mature disand that goes hand in hand with an expectation that tance learner by the Union and feel confident that if they wouldn’t be due to a perceived focus on younger I encounter any problems that adequate support and students. If they are involved with or engaged in Un- representation will be provided”. The remaining 42% ion activities this changes predominantly to greater of responses were split between ‘No’s’ and construcfeeling of representation. There were a small collec- tive comments detailed in this report. tive of responses that give a feeling echoed by a comment from one student “I want to come in, do my The Union building itself provided mixed feelings with one student commenting that they felt “completely work, and go home!” comfortable being in the Union building” whereas a The common problem each of these groups had was part-time mature student commented that “I do not the apparent lack of communication from the Univer- feel comfortable going into the Union Building”. sity and the Students’ Union with one part-time student commenting that they had to “rely on Lookup When focussing on the course environment there


Better You were comments from mature students relating to a GETTING THE STUDENT VOICE HEARD “distinct feeling of us and them” with clear barriers between mature students and “younger/teenage stu- The survey asked the students how they wanted to dents”. have their voices heard within the University. Overwhelmingly most students opted for online suggesIt is also clear from the feedback that PhD students tion boxes (47%), whilst this faceless way of sharing need a different variety of support than that of regu- an opinion ranked highly it was closely followed by dilar students. A student commented that “we can feel rect contact with University staff (34%) and through a bit isolated, be easier if there was a representa- the Course Rep system (33%). tive within the Union that’s not a Course Rep. The Course Reps aren’t appropriate for PhDs, we have After the online suggestion boxes international stulittle contact with them, and also it can be hard to ap- dents favoured direct contact with elected student proach them about issues, as doing a PhD is not like officers within the Union (26%) whereas in complete studying a course together.” contrast part-time students rated direct contact with University staff above any other form of empowering Mature students flagged families and the issues of their voice. studying with children as a significant issue with inadequate representation and most importantly for par- IMPORTANT AREAS FOR PORTSMOUTH STUDENTS ents timetable issues clashing with childcare arrangements. Furthermore, students have also complained Overall the research indicated that the most imporabout the non-inclusion opportunities for partners of tant aspect of University life was overwhelmingly the students in joining sports clubs and societies. students’ degrees and the standard of their education (74%). Portsmouth students however like to match Family housing is rated in the survey as “very very their education with a good social life (65%) whether poor!” with a student going on to say “putting peo- that’s through the array of nightlife available, the waple with children in Langstone is unkind and unhelp- terfront location or the multitude of activities availful” and further noted that “getting a child into a lo- able throughout the city. In complete contrast stucal school and planning where to live was a massive dents also worry about the levels of debt they are problem, and that no-one in the University could help either in, about to get in, or have the potential to be me with no matter how often I rang.” The research in, with cash flow also an issue. also highlights the problems faced by international students with rental agreements and the availability Money and Debt is less of a concern for international of advice during the house hunting process. students with personal (43%) and career (41%) development taking priority. Equally both postgraduate and All the hard-to-reach groups mentioned above com- part-time students note career development (53%) mented that they felt the University didn’t hear their as most important behind Education and Degrees. views and opinions as often as they would like them too. This could be remedied in several students eyes Female students rated their concerns over sexual by using “questionnaires online” to help feedback and health as a lower priority than male students with a shape the direction of the University for these stu- 4% difference between the two genders. When lookdents. ing at the democratic opportunities for students to


Better You interact with the Union there was a distinct variance between both genders with male students favouring Beyond theft and vandalism, there is also a particular open discussion forums and female students favour- concern from students that personal safety is an issue within the community. Female students rated coning Student Council. cerns over their personal safety significantly higher STUDENTS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY than that of male students with a 15% variance in the feedback. The research indicates that Portsmouth students face two main issues within the community – antiso- A student wrote in their feedback “the walk through cial behaviour, including noise (26%) as well as crime, Somers Town is ridiculously dark, how is a girl exincluding theft, violence and vandalism (25%). pected to walk home and feel safe at night, it’s a joke” however Somers Town was not the only area that Antisocial behaviour by both students and equally was highlighted as a safety concern area with another other residents top the table of local issues. Com- student stating “safely walking to the Isle of Wight plaints from students about their residential neigh- ferry in the evening” as one of the issues they face bours playing loud music or having parties until the as part of their student experience. In line with these early hours were generally targeted at other stu- comments students rely on the University bus serdents. However equally students had as many com- vice as not only access to the city but a safe transport ments about their relationships with local residents opportunity through the city however many students with complaints ranging from drug taking, to aggres- felt that the University bus didn’t run often enough sive attitudes, and especially relating to alcohol con- or late enough to cater for their safety concerns. sumption. STUDENT SERVICES The research indicated that 14% of students raised concerns over relationships between the student and The survey also sought to discover what services the local community. Many students feel there is a “stig- Union or the University could provide to help dema attached to being a student” amongst the local velop the student experience at the University. The residents. feedback indicated that there is significant demand for a Swimming Pool within easy access of the StuOne student wrote, “Portsmouth seems quite de- dents’ Union. pendent on students and yet I always feel the reception we get from the local residents is fairly negative The research also indicated that students would like – that we [Portsmouth students] are trouble, noisy to have healthier, better quality food options on cametc. Many are, but some are able to have a good bal- pus and amongst the various suggestions received ance and not cause trouble.” several of them mentioned food delivery services and a grocery store such as Tesco Metro on the NorthCrime levels within Portsmouth are a particular con- ern Campus. cern for students, “especially bike theft” not only within residential areas but also on campus with one Demand for a 24 hour library also ranked highly in student commenting, “I have been a victim of bike student requests through the survey, whilst further demand for a “better bus service” both in terms of theft outside of the Union.”


Better You capacity in the mornings and frequency of the service also topped the charts. Several students commented that they’d appreciate a centralised Bike Hire, Sales and Repair service whilst the other suggestions varied from Hair Dressers to Taxi top up cards. NIGHTLIFE The survey also took into account student opinions on the night-time economy including nightclubs, bars, gigs, comedy and theatrical performances. Over 30% of students rated the night life experience as being either excellent or very good with just 7.5% of students rating the nightlife as Bad,Very Bad or Terrible. There was demand to for the Union nightclub to return with 9.4% of responses commenting on the demise of the facility and the lack of student only venues without it. In addition behind a swimming pool, a student only nightclub topped the rankings when looking local services students would like the Union or University to provide. Students who may not have known about the old nightclub could also see the potential that Third Space offered as a potential venue with many calls for the use of the venue as a nightclub on a Saturday night where there are no student only club nights and also to alleviate the pressures on an already busy Waterhole Bar. One student wrote “The Union should be open as a club upstairs a few nights a week, when they opened it last year it was one of the best nights out I have had in Portsmouth” Student feedback was quite clear, from many, that the little money students have got they would prefer to spend in a non-profit environment rather than at pro-


Better You motions companies with comments such as “Get rid of Rough Hill and Eskimo.” Further to this comment another student wrote “I think it is such a shame that Lux and CO2 were shut down, whilst the Waterhole Bar is brilliant, why not make the most of the thousands of students love for clubbing and gain money to plough back into the University” in addition a further student commented “The Union should have a club inside that we can have student nights in the Union run by students for students. This way students can set up the night to appeal to students which will give money to the Union.” Trust in promotions agencies appears to also be reducing amongst the student market with a student writing “I feel that promotions companies... should be more honest about the entertainment they are going to offer, rather than posting long lists of promises on marketing material that they never deliver.” 9% of the feedback related to a demand for a wider variety of evening entertainment with one student commenting, “Evening entertainment is good, but after 2 years it’s pretty much all on repeat”, a further student commented “The lack of variety is atrocious and some of the venues are pathetic. The lack of variety and shabby experience inside these venues is what drives students to drink more, as they feel they have to get absolutely wasted to enjoy a night in the same places again and again.” For the Union, it is promising to note comments with regards to the official club night of the Students’ Union, Purple Wednesday, continues to prove very successful and generate positive feedback from Portsmouth students. Research indicated that 8.5% of the students wanted to see venues in Portsmouth open for longer hours and a further 7.8% wanted to see improved safety at the venues.


Better Union


the relative health factors of the products on offer have been raised as a concern by Portsmouth stuA student sums up many of the opinions written by dents. However equally students and also expect peers in the feedback through a comment of “I would cheaper food and drink in the Student Centre – stugo more often [to the Student Centre] if it was a dents are of the perception that the Union outlets nice looking venue with nice décor and furniture as should be non-profit. well as good food. Unfortunately judging by the current standard, I think it is incredibly worn down and 21% of responses focusing on Union building imI never eat in the Union is of poor quality and very provements focussed on improvements for catering. unhealthy.” Comments included “the menu needs to change with more sandwiches and salads”, “the canteen should The research indicates that there are 3 main improve- sell more food like noodles and pasta” and that “food ments that can be made within the Student Centre to is expensive for University establishments.” increase foot flow and engagement with Union activities. Socialising opportunities The feedback indicates that as previously discussed Food and Drink Portsmouth students would like a nightclub but in The quality of the food in both options available and lieu of that opportunity students have suggested that


Better Union the University should “refurbish the Waterhole Bar – facilities.” theme it and make booths for more private socialising”. When focussing on Third Space there is mixed opinion on the benefit with one student describing Third 17% of students questioned the Student Centre open- Space as “a waste of space, it should operate as both ing times, with the majority of them requesting longer a learning space and a venue” whereas another stuopening hours as a safe student space to attend. dent writes, “people need to be told that Third Space exists.” Students also tended to feel that the Student Centre was at times too loud but equally too small for the In terms of Third Space facilities several students number of people who wished to attend events com- commented that “it’s too bright” and adding “it hurts fortably. my eyes” as well as there being a variety of accompanying comments that echoed the view “Third Space Quality & quantity of student space needs to be warmer.” 34% of responses focussed on There is an increasing demand on space within the Union Building improvements echoed requests for University and the research gathered indicates the increased PC Access. Student Centre is seen as a potential opportunity for alleviating this strain through providing “revision Very few of the responses to the question of ‘what space” and “exhibition space” for Portsmouth stu- would attract you to the Union Building?’ (Less than dents. 1%) considered the Union Building as anything more than a Bar and a they see that Third Space has more The cleanliness of the building and general state of re- potential than it’s current use with varying suggespairs factored dramatically within the students feed- tions that could see the venue utilised for a increase back on the Student Centre, one student commented in student-led opportunities. “the main thing that will attract me the most is if the building is clean and has a proper reception.” This The feedback suggests that the social atmosphere comment was further supported by the 43% of stu- within the Student centre is what that drives footfall dents believing that the Union toilets were the most into the building (and giveaways also help). However important improvement that should be made in the there also appears to be a stigma attached with the Student Centre. building with one student writing “I associate the Un17% of the respondents commented on the décor, with the majority being of the opinion that “The Waterhole needs some renovation and modernisation, it’s looking warn and dated” and that “The Union doesn’t feel like a student HQ.” The research also suggests that 24% of students felt that the “furniture is a bit old” and a further 12% of students commented, “Function rooms lack basic group/business meeting needs” and need “upgraded


Better Union ion with large groups of sports teams taking over the place preventing others from enjoying it, there should be regular events that don’t involve binge drinking such as comedy nights, sketch shows and political talks.” Furthermore another student wrote “There was one day when it was sunny and you used the grass behind you for live bands and stuff. That was really good, a great vibe everyone was loving it! You need to do this more often”. There is evidence to suggest that Gun House Green would make a viable extension to the Waterhole Bar as an outdoor venue.

for the amount of people wishing to attend both Wednesday and Saturday events. One student goes on to comment that the “Waterhole is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it.” Many of the comments about the Waterhole Bar were very positive stating that “The Waterhole is friendly and brilliant venue” with “really good bouncers and bar staff” and most importantly it is considered “the best venue in Portsmouth” and the “safest venue in Portsmouth without a doubt.”

One female student felt, in contrast to the positive comments that, “until a zero tolerance policy is in The research suggests that the impact of events and place girls should steer clear if they don’t want to activities held in the Waterhole Bar and the Student be harassed.” Another student wrote, “After the first Centre space has a knock on impact on the repu- year of university it loses its spark.” tation of the Students’ Union, as students simply don’t know the difference between the independent A student commented that the Waterhole Bar is groups that operate in the Student Centre. Staff also “okay if you’re with a society and it is great during the commented that when completing the survey many summer with outside but with no upstairs anymore it students didn’t know what the Waterhole Bar was gets crowded on Wednesdays and is seen by people until they were told it was “the bar in the Union.” outside of societies as a waste of time.” THE WATERHOLE BAR


96% of respondents rated the Waterhole Bar as a The research suggested that 76% of students were safe venue with just 14% of those students suggesting satisfied with the services and activities that the Unthat they would not recommend the venue. Overall ion runs. the Waterhole bar is considered as being too small 90% of students felt that the communications issued by the Union were relevant to their lifestyles however could be further targeted based upon the data the Union receives from the University and the students. “Some [communications] are [relevant], others are completely irrelevant and this seems impersonal.” There is some confusion with students between official communications of the University and Union and those made via social networks from organisations such as Eskimo11 and Rough Hill.


Better Union When asked if the Union staff are always helpful and friendly, 95.2% of the respondents said yes they were. The main issues that the remaining 4.8% had who disagreed were mainly to do with customer service and the speed in which responses to student queries were made.

and several individuals commented that it was ‘clicky’ or that because they weren’t ‘sporty’ they didn’t feel they could be involved.

Predominantly the reasons that students weren’t involved with the Union can be broken into 3 main categories, either the student doesn’t have enough time; it’s too expensive to be involved; or they don’t There is evidence to suggest the majority of students know what’s available to them. do not know which Sabbatical Officers represent them. 2 out of the 5 Sabbatical Officer achieved an Overwhelmingly the pressures of time were what awareness rating of over 50%. stopped most people from being involved in an activity. Students have to juggle education, a job and their Course Reps form a large part of the Union’s repre- free time and the research suggests that throwing in sentational services and the Union wanted to know an activity for many of those students was one step what skills and training students considered as vital too much. for Course Reps to receive. There were six key areas that were identified; communication skills, personal Some students felt they couldn’t join because Freshskills, skills to ensure Course Reps make themselves ers Fayre was “too busy” and several students also known to their peers, public speaking training, con- commented that they weren’t able to join because flict resolution training and to be better informed of they were only here for 4-5 months. A minority of the needs of the students they represent. students also felt that they did not have the confidence to approach the students running the groups The Union operates a variety of services and activi- and to meet new people. ties. Students rated Societies, Sports Clubs and Academic representation as the most important services The Union operates a ‘Give It A Go’ programme, the to enhancing their student experience, whereas they research indicates that many students want to travel rated democratic forums, give it a go sessions and the as part of their time at University and operating a Ski Union Shop as the least important services. Trip topped the table with 13% of responses suggesting that with a further 7.4% suggesting they wanted 60% of respondents suggested they considered an opportunity to visit London. themselves involved in the students’ Union. Students considered the Union to provide 2 main things to Beyond travelling the research also shows that stube ‘involved with’ – the first being activities such as dents would like the opportunity to undertake social sports clubs and societies and the second being the activities with 21% of responses suggesting a trip to a Waterhole Bar. theme park. In addition a Paintballing or Laser Quest trip showed favourable results as does something Several people felt that because they didn’t join a Olympic related and a trip to a theatre. club or society they weren’t involved or didn’t even considered themselves as members. Some members felt they couldn’t see the benefits of being involved


Better University

poor facilities, the quality of lectures and contact time students have with lecturing staff, “It sometimes The survey asked students if they considered the feels like I’m paying to have someone read from slideUniversity to be value for money. An overwhelming shows that anyone could have written”, and addition80% of students agreed that it was with just 7% of al course costs – especially within the Creative and those who said yes going on to comment that they Cultural Industries (CCI) department. didn’t think it would be at the 2012 fee rate. The research indicated that CCI students valued The research also indicated Portsmouth students their student experience the lowest of all the faculcompare the University to others, that their friends ties with the Business School being rated the highest and colleagues study at, with one student comment- faculty as value for money. ing “not [value for money] in comparison to others” and well as comparing to their parent’s education International students in particular felt that the “our parents got the same education for free.” courses they were paying for were “too expensive” and often compared their experience to a home-stuThe main reasons for the 20% who disagreed was dents paying less for the same standard of education. VALUE FOR MONEY


Better University One of the largest concerns however was that there is “not guarantee of jobs” upon graduating and the research indicates that employability factors highly in the student experience.

used Purple Door during their time at the University. By far the Business School students utilised the Purple Door the service the most (58.6%) with CCI students using it the least (43.5%).

Several students even broke down their University into hourly rates “£3000/38 weeks = £79, 14 hours of lectures, 79/14 = £5.60 per hour of tuition. Not bad if you think of it like that, but it also depends on the degree, what you get and how employable you become.”

90% of students found the employability service either very (44.8%) or quite (45.2%) useful. “Good customer service” was highly praised throughout the results with the vacancy reports, and CV help also rating highly. One student described the service as the “Best part of Uni.”

There were a few negative comments towards the service with students writing “not helpful, can get a The research indicates that 49.5% of students have leaflet anywhere” and “incompetent advice offered.” EMPLOYABILITY


Better University International students rated the service the lowest with female students rating the service the highest. UNIVERSITY SERVICES Purple Door received the greatest satisfaction rating at 66% out of all the University services listed in the survey with catering services falling to the bottom of the table at 50% satisfaction. The research indicated that students rated the University staff and lecturers as the best thing about the University with 141 comments ranging from “All the lecturers are helpful and friendly so you feel you can ask them questions or email them” to “It’s nice to speak to someone that has worked in the industry.” A student wrote,“It doesn’t ‘try to be a Russell Group Uni.’ It clearly puts teaching as a priority and makes students feel wanted. It will keep climbing the tables as a result of its own approach!” Following University staff, the research shows that the location of the University is what students consider the second best thing about Portsmouth “Being in the city you get the best of both, an education and also real life experience that you don’t get on a campus Uni”. The city centre location is also important to Portsmouth students “How close the Uni is to the seaside and the proximity to the local shops and service.” The research also indicated that students consider their peers to be one of the best things at the University. A student wrote “Portsmouth students! As a member of a sports club with a lot of exposure to clubs from other Universities I feel our students are generally good at getting things done whilst maintaining a good personal life/work balance! I think the University does well encouraging this balance with the services it offers.”

Similarly a different student wrote “The SU, sports clubs and facilities within the building. On the sports side there’s so much to get involved in and I’ve made friends for life through the clubs I’ve joined. It enhances the whole University experience.” The survey also asked Portsmouth students ‘if there was one thing you could change what it would be and why?’ The responses varied greatly but predominantly fell into 7 different categories; the Library, academic, Information Services, catering, transport, the Union and University facilities. The overwhelming call for the Library was for a 24hour facility with further comments requesting a bigger facility and more copies of popular books. A student commented, “I loved the 24hr trial last year and thought it was fantastic.” When looking at academic responses the largest cluster of feedback was that students struggled with the gaps in the timetables “I have just one class in the morning on a Tuesday and then wait 4 hours until the next class.” Students were also finding difficulty with post 6pm lectures especially those with families. A common theme amongst student opinion was the lack of PC access during busy periods with 10.4% of students commenting on this. Further comments expressed students concerns with the amount of peers who occupied an open access computer whilst browsing social networking sites, watching YouTube videos and BBC iPlayer. Catering related comments were the smallest cluster of the improvement themes with a strong focus on quality of food and price. In addition there were concerns about the lack of dietary options (such as gluten free) and a significant demand for healthier food. When focussing on transport the amount of space


Better University available during the peak periods of travel raises many concerns however this is also matched by a demand for a transport route to service central and southern Southsea. The most significant demand at the Union was for more events and bigger gigs to be held within the facility with a less significant focus on increasing societies variety and demands for cheaper sports clubs. 5.4% of students wrote that they wanted more student accommodation opportunities, 2.7% wanted an increase in study rooms available to them during busy periods and 2.3% commented on the cleanliness of the toilets around campus.

Campus Communicat

During the November research period, the Students’ Union also ran a campus communications survey, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of marketing across campus. The survey consisted of campus wide marketing material distribution focussing on the engagement with the material. Students were offered the chance to win £100 worth of iTunes vouchers by sending the location of the marketing material back to the Students’ Union by either text message, email, completing an online form or scanning a QR code. The Union received 393 responses to the marketing distributed for a 30 day period across 75 locations. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


4% of responses were from plasma screens 26% of responses were from posters 16% of responses were from table toppers 31% of responses were from Lookup • 58% of those followed the web link • 12% of those text the response code • 30% of those chose to email a response 20% of all responses were via email 26% of email marketing responses were via SMS 36% of all responses were via QR codes 18% of responses were from a Union location 90% of responses from Anglesea were from pillars 4% of responses were from the Hub 24% of survey locations were at Langstone 1% of responses were from Langstone campus 1.5% of responses were from halls locations 11% of responses were from the north campus 7% of responses were from the guildhall campus 14% of responses were from catering outlets 6% of responses were made in the early hours 19% of responses were made in the morning 56% of responses were made in the afternoon 19% of responses were made in the evening 0 responses were received from Gun House 0 responses were received from sports facilities


and walls, whilst the locations proved to gain high response rates they also appeared unmanaged.

The distribution of posters proved to be fairly time consuming - it took a good part of 2 working days to All Cafeteria staff across campus were all very pleasget the posters up, especially considering the distance ant and approachable. Catering areas all showed high between many of the buildings. footflow with good response rates, students tended to interact well with table toppers as they sat eating An argument could be made for a system whereby or working in cafes. All Hub responses came in the promotional material is distributed to all areas sys- afternoon periods. tematically, perhaps via UoP internal mail or through volunteers, Course Reps, etc. Purple Door and the Library both proved difficult to display posters in. Staff in Purple Door did not seem We did experience in Liongate a well managed post- to know if posters could be displayed and after 3 or er board whereby a staff member had printed out 4 staff members responding Union staff gave up. The a plasma screen advertisement and put it up on the library, after finding the correct person, were able to wall. If this was common practice it could be very display posters in limited numbers however Union convenient. staff felt that student lifestyle posters would not be accepted such as events and trips. Many poster boards are in corridors where human traffic passes but do not linger. Areas where high Guildhall Halls proved very difficult to access and put numbers of students exist are either communal seat- posters in locations that often appeared to be lowing areas or cafes. We suspect these to be the best footfall areas. Langstone campus however was easier places for poster advertisements. to access but proved to yield low feedback. Poster boards already have a high volume of material, in some cases commercially based which are often not paid for or approved. Making space for our own posters can be quite difficult and time consuming. A lot of time is eaten up by removing and rearranging the posters that are already up.

FEEDBACK ANALYSIS Overwhelmingly Lookup proved to be the best oncampus communications tool with students logging on to check the latest information daily.

The highest response rates, to fixed poster locations A high number of spaces were noted include walls in were between 10:45am and 17:32pm similarly email communal areas, behind service and cafe desks and responses were made predominantly between midoutside entrance areas that could be more effectively day and 18:00pm. Responses from toilet doors aputilised for displaying promotional items. peared to come from ‘Ladies’ toilet locations. Richmond Building, Park Building, Portland Building, Mildam Building and Eldon Building all have fixed notice boards however tucked away out of the main footflow of students. Both Eldon, Anglesea and Portland building suffer from mass postering on pillars

One singular form of marketing appears ineffective, however a combination of direct and ambient makerting yields the highest results. The most effective communication tools are those that students can interacte with in their ‘down-time’.


University of Portsmouth Students’ Union Cambridge Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2EF T: 023 92 84 3417



The research contained within this document was undertaken by the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union. It was analysed by the Students’ Union Business and Marketing Manager to provide a relevant and unbiased response. If you would like further information or a break down of specific responses please email with your requirements.

Student Experience Report 2012  

University of Portsmouth Students' Union Experience Report 2012