UPP publishes research on the changing social attitudes of students and their perceptions of campus facilities


UPP is this week launching the findings of the Annual Student Experience Survey, conducted by YouthSight, which shows a growing number of students and applicants are prioritising the diversity of their chosen campus, whilst bars and nightclubs are losing their appeal.  The findings of the report will be discussed at a series of high-level roundtables at the Labour and Conservative Party conferences – held in partnership with Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

The research provides evidence to suggest that the social attitudes of students and applicants are changing and are now affecting perceptions of campus facilities and ultimately their decision about where to study. 

With 42% of student respondents saying that the variety of people they are likely to meet on campus is important, this is a significant increase on last year’s results, when only 35% agreed that diversity was an important factor.

Meanwhile, the survey also reveals that demographic changes in the consumption of alcohol have impacted what students and applicants identify as important in determining whether a campus has good facilities. Year-on-year, young people rating campus bars, pubs and nightclubs as important has declined rapidly from a high of 49% in 2012, to 37% in 2015 and 43% in this year. 

Other findings include:

  • a decline in the number of young people saying that ‘reasonable prices at social venues’ are an important part of a good non-academic experience at university (58% in 2014 to 44% in 2016)

  • a decline in the number of people rating the quality of entertainment venues (e.g. bars, clubs, theatres on campus) as important for their non-academic experience (over 81% rated this as important from 2012 to 2014, but this dropped to 74% this year)

Jon Wakeford, Director of Strategy and Communications at UPP and a member of the Higher Education Commission said:

These results show that universities need to be much more imaginative in how they invest in their campus infrastructure. Students and applicants want to meet new people and expand their horizons but universities can no longer rely on bars and Student Union night-clubs to attract young people to live on campus. Instead we need to create flexible shared and social spaces that give young people a wider range of experiences and speak to a more academically focused generation of students.”

Josephine Hansom, Director at YouthSight said: 

We were pleased to see that students and applicants value the opportunities universities offer to expand their horizons. It’s also no surprise to see the changing priorities of applicants and students; where the traditional rites of passage for previous generations such as clubbing are being replaced by concerns about employability. Looking at year on year trends this research highlights that universities are at a point where they will need to pivot to succeed. University experience is not what it used to be and the sector needs to revisit what it is really offering students of tomorrow.”

Click here and here to see infographics that display some of the results.