UK News Northern Irish university students are the happiest in the UK — and those from England work the least
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Northern Irish university students are the happiest in the UK while those from England are the laziest, according to a report.
The Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank analysed survey data from nearly 60,000 undergraduate students between 2015 and 2019 to examine differences between the higher education systems in the four nations of the UK.
It found that English students studying at universities in England seem to work the least hard.
They have fewer scheduled hours and attend lectures for less time, do fewer written assignments that contribute to their final marks, and undertake less paid employment not related to their course than students elsewhere in the UK.
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It found that English students studying at universities in England seem to work the least hard (Photo: Graeme Robertson/Getty)
Northern Irish students studying in Northern Ireland appear to be the happiest, providing more positive responses on all four questions relating to wellbeing than their peers elsewhere.
Scottish students studying in Scotland have notably different opinions on funding, with a higher proportion thinking university should be free and a greater proportion believing they are receiving "very good" value for money.
In Scotland 37 per cent of students believe “the government should pay all of the costs and students should pay nothing” when going to university, compared to 21 per cent in England, 20 per cent in Wales and 19 per cent in Northern Ireland.
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Nearly two-thirds of local students in Scotland believe they are getting "very good" or "good" value for money, compared to only one-third of local students in England.
Both findings are likely to reflect the fact that Scotland is the one nation in the UK where students do not have to pay tuition fees.
Welsh students studying in Wales are meanwhile the most positive about the staff who teach them – with 60 per cent of local students in Wales saying all or a majority of their teaching staff motivate them to do their best work, compared to 52 per cent in England, 51 per cent in Scotland and 53 per cent in Northern Ireland.
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Nick Hillman, HEPI's director, said that many of the study’s findings were “surprising”.
"Policymakers in England have often tried to portray high tuition fees as offering more student choice and a better student experience,” he said.
“Policymakers in other parts of the UK have tended to regard lower student debts as a way to improve student wellbeing. Both these claims are pooh-poohed by the results from students themselves."
He added: ‘Nonetheless, it is easy to exaggerate the scale of any differences. The most important finding overall is that any differences in the student experience in different parts of the UK are fairly modest.”
“Despite increasing devolution and increasingly divergent policies, there is still more that unites higher education institutions across the UK than divides them.
“The current Covid-19 crisis is bringing this home, as higher education institutions across the UK are all facing the same new challenges.”
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