Technology students are questioning the value for money they get from university as tuition fees in England and Wales continue to rise, according to research.
The OnePoll Digital Campus report, commissioned by Adobe, revealed 89% of students starting courses this year believe they are entitled to "a better university experience".
Students pinpointed three areas where they feel improvement is needed: 60% said better access to support facilities, such as libraries; 58% said there is a need for a digital campus which provides access to industry-standard technology; and 53% highlighted the need for more accessible tutors.
Of those students already in higher education, three-quarters said their universities fail to make good use of technology within both seminars and lectures.
Lecturers are aware of the views of their students, and therefore 84% of the 51 lecturers surveyed said they felt under pressure to implement the use of more technology within their classes.
Of these lecturers, 66% said they were very conscious of the need to use more video, data virtualisation and web conferencing in their classrooms, but are currently unable to do so.
Of the 1,000 students surveyed, only 28% claimed to have access to their university network when working remotely from home or a mobile device.
Grace Harrison is starting a graphics course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design this year. "If I’m going to be paying £9,000 for the privilege, I should be given the highest quality tools so that when I start working life I’m fully prepared with the skills that are used in industry,” she said.
Universities must review IT facilities and strategies
The report highlighted the need for vice-chancellors to review their current ICT facilities and strategies, in addition to several areas identified by lecturers to create digital campuses. These include training and support on the use of technology (75%), advice on integrating technology into student learning (69%), and better access to technology itself (68%).
Some 89% of student starting university courses this year believe they are entitled to 'a better university experience'
Digital Campus report
Liz Wilkins, senior marketing manager for education at Adobe UK, said with students now paying £9,000 per year in tuition fees, it is no longer acceptable for universities to offer their students a basic provision of tools, services and technologies.
“It’s up to vice-chancellors to step up to the challenge, and quickly, so they are able to meet the demands of the next generation of students, particularly with regard to the provision of industry-standard technology which many young people consider to be instrumental in helping them secure employment later on," she said.
“Adobe is working with leading institutions across the UK to deliver outstanding digital facilities, and hopes to support many more as they evolve their digital strategies in the future,” added Wilkins.
It was not just students who expressed their concerns and demands for new technologies, as 94% of lecturers said offering good technical facilities to students was important.
Those surveyed said having access to good-quality technology has many benefits. These include increasing the employability of students (96%), supporting the industry by producing students with the skills that tech companies need (80%), and making the institution more competitive (73%).
Ian Dunn, pro-vice-chancellor at Coventry University, said: “Technology is central to our institution as we understand that digital skills are key in today’s workplace. As a result, we ensure all our students have access to a wide range of Adobe tools.
“We have also rolled out the Adobe Certified Associate programme, so students on a range of courses can learn valuable digital skills that will put them in good stead when they go on to their wider careers.”