Analysis of students' views about the quality of higher education (based on the survey results)
The article is dedicated to the issue of student involvement in higher education quality assurance and evaluation – a vital and highly relevant issue in today’s higher education of Ukraine. Changes instigated by the Law of Ukraine «On Higher Education» of 2014, foresee an active role of students in the formation and evaluation of higher education quality as 1) final beneficiaries, 2) interviewees and participants in accreditation of study programmes, 3) external evaluation experts during study programmes accreditation, as ruled by current legislation. Taking into account the significance of students’ role in quality assurance, it is necessary to find out:
- how university students interpret quality of higher education and higher education quality assurance;
- how students perceive their role in the formation and enhancement of higher education quality;
- to what extend they are ready and committed to influence and improve the quality of higher education.
Accordingly, the aim of this article is to investigate students’ opinion on the quality of Ukraine’s higher education. To this end, students’ survey was conducted with the focus on the following:
- what is quality and quality assurance in students’ opinion;
- how respondents assess the quality of education in their HEI and in Ukraine in general;
- whether students can influence the quality of study programmes and quality of higher education;
- what hinders improvement of study programmes and enhancement of quality of higher education.
The survey was conducted in May – October 2020; the respondents were 115 students of five Ukrainian universities (years three and four of bachelor programmes and master students) who volunteered to take part in the survey.
The research resulted in the following conclusions:
1) There is no integral, holistic understanding of higher education quality among student community. Representatives of different HEIs interpret higher education quality differently, though in total 60% of respondents interpret quality as « new, relevant information and knowledge».
2) On the whole, respondents value the quality of higher education rather low: only 25% of students regard it as high. At the same time, most of surveyed students rate the quality of their study programme higher, than the quality of higher education in their university or the quality of educational services in Ukraine in general.
3) Students of different HEIs are rather diverse in their interpretation of quality assurance of higher education and choice of different means for quality enhancement. On the whole, respondents give preference to those tools that anticipate active students’ participation in quality assurance, like asking the teacher to change the manner of teaching, or leaving a complaint with student self-government, discussing the quality of teaching in a focus group, or filling in an evaluation questionnaire.
4) Students who participated in the survey demonstrated critical thinking and fair judgement of their negative impact on the quality of higher education by stating that low student motivation is the most significant factor that obstructs quality enhancement. Other factors cited by respondents include low teacher motivation, underdeveloped infrastructure at HEIs, teacher workload.
5) The positive finding of the survey is that the majority of students are confident in their capability to influence the quality of higher education in their HEI and only 21% responded they are deprived of the possibility improve higher education quality.
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