Case Studies Research on Improving the Student Learning Experience at University for the Department for Business Innovation & Skills

Schools UK Evaluation and Research


The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was looking to gain a sector wide view of how institutions are improving student learning opportunities in an environment of higher education reform (including the changes to tuition fees from start of the 2012/13 academic year).


AlphaPlus was commissioned to conduct a survey of all higher education institutions (HEIs – around 100 universities) in England. The survey asked for selected information on key areas of the undergraduate academic experience with the aim of providing a snapshot of recent and planned changes being taken by HEIs to improve students’ academic experience.

The survey was online and consisted of two separate questionnaires:

  • one to be completed by an HEI manager on behalf of the institution
  • one to be completed by the NUS student representative for that institution
  • List item three

The questionnaires were designed with the support of the HEI stakeholder partners, including Universities UK (UUK), GuildHE and the National Union of Students (NUS), and a small HEI sector expert panel. The Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) were also part of the project steering group and were given the opportunity to review the questionnaires as they developed.

Working with stakeholders, AlphaPlus achieved a response rate of 99 HEIs (84%) and 36 student representatives (35%).

The main message to emerge from the two surveys was that HEIs appear to have implemented widespread changes in response to the 2011 government reforms. Across each of the areas covered by the survey both HEI managers and student representatives have reported widespread change across some or all of the undergraduate offering, and in many cases additional changes are planned within the next 18 months.

The report is published here