Lachlan Bennett

Engineering and IT students continue a five-semester streak of being the least satisfied with the overall quality of their subjects, according to the latest results from the UTS Student Feedback Survey (SFS).

However, although Engineering/IT has repeatedly ranked last compared to other faculties, subject satisfaction in the faculty has gradually increased over the past two years.

The SFS is conducted every semester and allows students to give anonymous feedback on various elements of their subjects, including assessments, resources and whether the subject is “interesting and thought provoking”.

“You’re here to learn, so obviously you need a say in how you’re being taught,” Survey Coordinator of the UTS Planning and Quality Unit (PQU) Alberto Mendez said.

Students are asked whether or not they agree with nine statements made about their subject, answering from one to five – five being ‘strongly agree’, three being ‘neutral’ and one being ‘strongly disagree’.

Since 2009, no SFS scores for any question in all faculties have fallen below 3.50 (midway between ‘neutral’ and ‘agree’). However in the same period, no SFS scores have risen above 4.40 (midway between ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’).

The latest round of results revealed that Health students are the most satisfied with the overall quality of their subjects, with Health being the only faculty in four years to receive an SFS score above 4.00 (‘agree’) for this question.

Health has performed comparatively well in the SFS over the past two years with scores for all nine questions improving considerably.

Last semester it was also the faculty with the highest levels of participation in the SFS, with a 54% participation rate compared to 39% in Science, which has the lowest level of participation.

The overall participation rate across the 1044 subjects taught last semester was 44%, which is down from 46% in Autumn 2012 semester.

Participation rates have remained stagnant and below 50% over the past couple of years, but Mr Mendez says this level of participation is high compared to other online surveys at both UTS and other universities.

Mr Mendez believes that the main reason why some students don’t participate is because they feel that staff do not take their feedback seriously and that subjects won’t be changed or improved because of the feedback derived from the SFS.

The PQU is working closely with faculties to ensure that they both constructively use SFS results and communication to students the changes that have been made.

“It’s not so much communicating the results. It really is communicating what’s been done based on your feedback . . . it really is about making students know that their feedback has been looked at properly, it has been thought about and, where appropriate, things have been changed,” Mr Mendez said.

The PQU hopes this will increase participation rates and ensure a better learning experience for UTS students.

As an added incentive, students who complete the survey are entitled to either credit to their student account, or have a donation made on their behalf to either the Smith Family, Australian Red Cross or the World Wildlife Fund.

Between 2010 and 2012, $12500 in SFS donations has been collected. The money will be presented to the three charities at the annual Union Dinner, held on August 29.

Overall, the SFS continues to reveal that students are more satisfied with how their subjects are taught, rather than the subjects themselves.

Last semester, all faculties except Engineering/IT received an SFS score in the ‘agree’ category (above four) for all three of the questions which ask about the teaching of a subject.