Students mark down teaching at top unis

Some of the country’s leading universities face having their ability to raise fees restricted after a Sunday Times analysis showed students have rated the quality of their teaching among the worst in Britain.

Research conducted for the 2017 edition of the Good University Guide, published with The Sunday Times next weekend, shows elite Russell Group universities occupy five of the bottom 10 places in a ranking based on student satisfaction with teaching quality.

They include the London School of Economics, which finishes 128th on this measure out of 128 institutions to be included in next week’s Good University Guide, and Edinburgh University, which finishes next to bottom.

Three top London universities — King’s College London, University College London and Imperial College London — also feature in the bottom 10.

The ranking is based on responses to the 2016 National Student Survey by final-year students. The Sunday Times isolates the outcomes for questions purely related to the quality of teaching, assessment and feedback and academic support to produce this measure of university performance.

A biochemistry graduate from Imperial who asked to remain anonymous said he had struggled to get a graduate job despite his degree and that “formal contact hours were few and far between”.

The poor showing is potentially damaging as the government has indicated its intention to tie the right to raise fees above £9,250 a year to performance in a new teaching excellence framework, which will measure university teaching performance. A key part of it will be the outcomes reported for teaching quality in the annual student survey. Degree completion rates and graduate employment data will also play a part.

Some universities may decide to boycott the exercise. At Imperial the provost, James Stirling, said the university took the student survey “very seriously” and was developing an “action plan to drive up standards”. The university said it would decide whether to take part when it saw the final methodology in the autumn.