Student and staff expectations of university life - a pilot study.




Expectations, support, academic skills, diversity


Student expectations of university lack clarity, yet unmet expectations may negatively impact upon satisfaction, attainment and progression. This questionnaire-based pilot study explored student and staff expectations, in a large English widening participation university.  In all, 65 students and 27 staff participated. Most notable was the similarity of student responses regardless of demographic characteristics. However, students already in paid work were significantly more likely to agree that they liked the university and found it easy to make friends. Students who might consider taking on paid work expressed significantly more concern that they may struggle with their academic work whilst those not in paid work had significantly more concerns about exams and self-directed learning. In terms of transferable academic skills, Black students were significantly less likely than white students to expect to make detailed class notes for themselves, albeit within this small sample size, while those first-in-family identified more academic skills needs than other student groups. Significantly more staff than students considered classroom attendance necessary. This pilot study suggests future research directions, including the impact of paid work and ethnicity on specific academic skills and underlines the importance of student support.  

Author Biographies

Magdalena Dolecka, Kingston University London

Magdalena is an Hons BSc Biological Sciences student who understook this research as part of a funded staff: student research opportunity.

Noor U Khan, Kingston University London

Noor is a student on the BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences degree. She undertook this project as part of a funded staff: student research opportunity.

Vanee Sivagurunathan, Kingston University London

Vanee is a student on the BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences degree pathway. She undertook this research as part of a funded staff: student research project.

Alison Faith Kelly, Kingston University London

Alison Kelly is an Associate Professor in Microbiology at Kingston University and Course Leader for the undergraduate degree BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences. A Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, she has experience of researching in higher education, investigating academic issues including student engagement, collaboration and educational quality as well as maintaining a strong research interest in her scientific area.

Hilda Mary Mulrooney, Kingston University London

Hilda Mulrooney is an Associate Professor in Nutrition, having previously held dietetic posts within the NHS in public health, primary & secondary care. She has worked in higher education for over 20 years, and has a strong interest in developing co-curricular opportunities for students, which allow them to apply their learning and gain experience while at university. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


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