Some local colleges are rivalling traditional universities when it comes to offering students a positive higher education experience according to 2012 student satisfaction scores - we've been taking a closer look at which colleges have upped their game.
It was a record year for student satisfaction according to the latest National Student Survey (NSS), which asked 289,000 final-year students to rate their course. The figures don't just cover university students, but also college students studying for undergraduate degrees. These are usually taught within a college, but validated by a university.
66% of colleges improved their overall scores in 2012 - here are the top performers and highest climbers. You can also take a look at our university and specialist college student satisfaction round-ups.
1. St Helens College, Merseyside, 87%
Are you creative? Degree courses on offer include fine art painting, graphic design, game art and photography. St Helens College also provides student accommodation for those who are moving away from home.
2. Richmond-upon-Thames College, 85%
Keen to study for a business degree? Richmond-upon-Thames College offers courses in both business and business with marketing. All degrees are validated by local uni, Kingston University.
Richmond is one of the most improved colleges for satisfaction, climbing up from 41st place last year to 2nd place.
3. Solihull College, 85%
You could study for your degree in fine art at Solihull College, which works in partnership with Oxford Brookes University to offer higher education courses.
Solihull is another of the most improved colleges for satisfaction, climbing up from 38th place last year to 3rd place.
4. Middlesbrough College, 84.5%
The College’s degrees in education studies and music technology are awarded by local Teesside University.
5. Wirral Metropolitan College, 84%
Wirral Metropolitan College offers several degree courses, including cultural studies, fine art and illustration with animation. Its psychology course involves two full-time years at Wirral Metropolitan, followed by a final two years at University of Liverpool.
The college student experience
What's it like studying for a degree at a college rather than a university? Well, it's more likely you'll be in smaller classes and some students really like the more relaxed, intimate teaching environment - we've listed more things to think about in our article on degree studies at further education college.
If you’re after a flexible and convenient way of getting your degree – perhaps balancing study with a full-time job or other commitments – then a local college could be the right place for you. It's a good idea to head to an open day to speak directly to tutors and students about how the course is structured, which tutors you'll be taught by and how the college works with the validating university.
What is 'student satisfaction'?The National Student Survey (NSS) asks final-year students to reflect on various aspects of their student learning experience, including assessment and feedback, personal development and how well the course is organised, and give an overall rating. From this student satisfaction rating we calculate a mean average student score per university based on how students as a whole responded.
Student satisfaction scores are a good indicator but don't always tell you everything. Different courses within a college may offer quite different teaching and learning experiences, and views collected in the survey could be from a relatively low (though still valid) number of students.
See all universities and colleges ranked by student score when you run a search on Which? University.
- Explore universities and colleges - find out what students are saying about accommodation, facilities and cost of living
- Struggling to choose the right University for you? We can help you discover how useful the league tables are when it comes down to choosing a course?
- Student satisfaction scores can give you a flavour of the university experience. Here we explain what they do (and don't tell you)...