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Students Cite High Satisfaction With University System, Latest Survey Shows

Atlanta — June 12, 2002

Nearly 80 percent of respondents to a fall 2001 survey of University System of Georgia students are “satisfied or very satisfied” with the college or university they attend, System officials announced today to the Board of Regents.

The results show System student satisfaction levels similar to national norms and mirror that of an earlier System-wide student satisfaction survey, conducted in the fall of 1997.

“These results are very good news,” said Dr. Cathie M. Hudson, associate vice chancellor for Strategic Research and Analysis for the Board of Regents. “A comparison of 2001 survey results with those from 1997 indicates an overall stability in student satisfaction levels. There are some key differences, however, that can guide our future plans and programs related to enhancing student satisfaction.”

Hudson noted that students were more satisfied in 2001 than in 1997 with racial harmony and college relations, for example, but less satisfied than they had been earlier with the availability of student housing and daycare services, although the latter was used by only a small proportion of students. Using the systemwide data to inform strategic planning is one of the key purposes of conducting the surveys, Hudson said. Other major purposes include learning more about University System of Georgia students, identifying what programs and services work and do not work, and comparing student satisfaction over time and with national peers.

The Board of Regents this month will adopt a revised Strategic Plan that has as a key priority improving student retention and graduate rates. The cumulative data from these student satisfaction surveys will help inform decisions to be made in this area. System researchers previously had noted a strong correlation between higher levels of student satisfaction and higher student retention. The fall 2001 survey was conducted by the University System of Georgia at its 34 colleges and universities in October and November. Both the 2001 and the earlier 1997 survey utilized the Student Opinion Survey instrument developed by American College Testing, Inc. (ACT).

Students were queried regarding their satisfaction with campus environments and services provided by their institutions, with a goal of determining how they assess their learning experiences in University System institutions. The surveys were modified for two- and four-year institutions, to reflect the different missions of these institutional sectors.

Two-year college respondents expressed the highest level of satisfaction in the following areas:

  • class size relative to the type of course,
  • library and learning resource facilities and services,
  • computer services, and
  • the attitude of teaching staff toward students,

The greatest gains in satisfaction at two-year institutions from 1997 to 2001 were in parking facilities, financial aid services, and the assistance provided in the admissions process.

Four-year college survey respondents expressed the highest level of satisfaction in the following areas:

  • recreational and intramural programs,
  • honors programs,
  • library facilities and services, and
  • class size relative to the type of course.

The greatest gains in satisfaction at four-year institutions from 1997 to 2001 were in financial aid services, honors programs, computer services, registration procedures, racial harmony, and the attitude of faculty toward students. Survey respondents at both two- and four-year System institutions were least satisfied with:

  • the availability of student housing,
  • the purposes for which student activity fees are used,
  • availability of courses and the time courses are offered, and
  • opportunities for student employment.

In addition, four-year college respondents expressed low satisfaction levels with residence hall rules and regulations.

Surveys were conducted both in class and for the first time, by utilizing the Internet. The response rate was 68 percent at two-year and 57 percent at four-year institutions; 23,552 University System students completed the survey. Hudson noted this was a solid sample representative of the student body. The number of students using a particular service has a bearing on results. For example, while survey respondents gave low marks for day care and veterans’ services, very few students actually use these services, she said.

The next steps in the utilization of the survey results, Hudson said, will be to focus on areas that need improvement throughout the University System and to link any recommendations to the Board’s new Strategic Plan.

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