Updated: Thursday, 5th December 2019 @ 2:39pm

Low student satisfaction ratings due to 'staff seeing students as unimportant', claims Manchester University VC

Low student satisfaction ratings due to 'staff seeing students as unimportant', claims Manchester University VC

By Owen Williams

Student satisfaction ratings are low at Manchester University because ‘some staff see students as unimportant’, claims the institution’s Vice Chancellor.

Dame Nancy Rothwell made the comments at the Students' Union last week after the latest university rankings showed that Manchester had the lowest student satisfaction rating of any Russell Group University.

“Any staff members who don’t like students should not be here, because students are fundamental to this university” she added.

It comes just weeks after the university announced a £20million investment in new academic staff in an attempt to climb up the international rankings and achieve their target of becoming one of the top 25 universities in the world by 2020.

An English Literature graduate who did not want to be named said: “The ridiculous lack of contact time we received, coupled with, as I experienced it, a reticence on the staff’s part, to make themselves available meant that there was barely any teaching occurring.”

This feeling seems to be widespread among the student community with Letty Newton, the General Secretary of Manchester Student Union confirming that contact time is a major issue when it comes to student satisfaction.

“Student’s often do not feel like they are part of a university community or that they matter to the university,” she added.

The problem has been identified as an area the university cannot be proud of in their Strategic Vision 2020, a document outlining the universities plan to climb the international rankings over the next ten years.

This is in stark contrast to how the university fares on research, placing third in the country behind Oxford and Cambridge, making many question whether the academic staff are more interested in their research than in teaching.

Lindon Layton-Best, 21, an MA student from Leeds said that he believed teaching was a secondary priority for many lecturers which alienated students and contributed to the lack of satisfaction.

“Students become a product to be churned out by the university on an industrial level, not minds to be cultivated,” he added.

However, there are other students who have a more positive view on their time at Manchester, Emma Liasides, 22, from Sheffield, said that the large number of well-known academics made her feel like she had every opportunity to excel.

She said: “There are more knowledgeable and award winning lecturers, professors and tutors than you can shake a stick at.”

It remains to be seen what the effects of injecting new academic blood into the university will achieve in relation to student satisfaction, but with the vice-chancellor seemingly leading a charge against bad teaching practice it is obvious that the university is trying hard to overcome this issue.