Research: Students life in UK

September 09, 2014

Sodexo UK Study: 8 out of 10 students want a university degree to secure a better job in the future

Research: Students life in UK

• Learning is the main priority for most students in 2014
• Students are now concerned about balancing their academic, social and work commitments
• "Sodexo Universitary Lifestyle Survey" is conducted among students enrolled in UK universities
• There are about 6,000 Romanian enrolled in UK universities in the academic year 2013-2014 *

Bucharest, September 10th 2014 – Sodexo company, top player on the Romanian ticket market, published the results of „Sodexo Universitary Lifestyle Survey”, 2014 edition, regarding students’ academic and social behavior. The study tracks students’ motivations in choosing a university, financial and social pressures of the students, their attitudes towards higher education and the expectations they have after graduation. The research was conducted on a sample of 2.000 students of over 140 universities throughout the United Kingdom.
Students who attend a university in the United Kingdom expected to have financial debt upon graduation.

Almost one in five students in the UK (17%) expects to take on debts in excess of € 50,000, compared to 2% previously. In the same time, 58 % expect at least € 25,000 of debt. Almost a third of all students appreciate that the amounts borrowed to finance their university studies are too high.

”Amid a challenging economic climate, the financial impact of graduating higher education institutions has put pressure on prospective students and has made choosing whether to enter higher education an important choice due to the rise of academic fees, according the study conducted this year by Sodexo,”, said Jean Istasse, CEO Sodexo Romania. A quarter of students consulted their parents in making the choice, more than double the amount in 2012.

Despite the substantial amounts that they expect to have returned when they will graduate from the university, the number of students who are worried about their debt on graduation decreased in the last decade by 10% to 4% in 2014.

Higher debt expectations have caused a increase in the level of student dissatisfaction with the value of the quality of their education. Over a quarter of students (28%) said  they did not think accruing so much debt was acceptable as a career investment, up by 10% in just two years. Debt is also linked to 23% of students changing their original choice of course.

”This year’s survey results suggest that a time bomb may be ticking,” said Jane Longmore, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Southampton Solent University and co-author and validator of the survey. ”The percentage of students who think of higher education as the next obvious step diminished from 42% among second and third years in 2012  to 35% in 2014. It is very important that the universities will have to work harder to demonstrate the value of higher education to students.”

Higher investment during the academic years has led today’s students to focus more on the end-game. Improve the chances of getting a better job is why 76% of students are attending undergraduate courses, while 62% hope this will increase their earning power. Increasing the percentage of those focused on increasing their earnings is significant in the last decade, with 36% in 2004. 

In this context, the desire to get good grades is very present: nearly 9 in 10 students (84%) said they worried about securing their desired degree, up from 72% in 2012 and from 61% in 2004, when the survey was first conducted. 

Such added pressures have contributed to the observed trend over the past six years of students focusing more firmly than ever on their studies, rather than enjoying active social lives. More students than ever were worried about balancing their academic, social and work commitments – the second biggest source of stress (with 69% citing this, up from 41% in 2004). In fact, some 52% of students cited saving as the main reason to socialise less.

In this context, 76% of respondents say they spend € 25 or less a week on socializing, up from 61% in 2012. To keep costs in this limit, half of all students choose to stay in when hanging out with friends and a third (33%) did not consume alcohol when socializing, up from 26% in 2010.  Studying represents most students’ priority from UK. Nearly three quarters (74%) are spending two to five hours a day in lectures, seminars or in the lab and about three-quarters (72%) are devoting two to five hours a day to private study. About 18% said they spend between six and eight hours a day in lectures, seminars or in the lab, double compared to two years ago.
It is not surprising that the number of students worried they cannot efficiently manage a university workload is increasing from 30% in 2004 to 61% today.

The increased emphasis on studying was also reflected in the decrease in the number of hours students spent working part-time: only 36% said they work 11-20 hours a week compared to 55% in 2004 while 53% work less than 10 hours a week, up from 36% in 2012.

* Official sources, unrelated to "Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey"


About Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey
Published biennially since 2004, this year’s Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey marks the tenth anniversary of its launch. It is conducted in association with Times Higher Education and gives a uniquely detailed analysis of the student experience, from how they choose and fund a university education, to their lifestyle and eating habits. For the 2014 survey, a representative sample of 2,000 students participated in the research, from 144 universities across the UK. The participants in the survey were full-time undergraduate students from all years of study.

Sodexo, world leader in Quality of Life Services:
The Sodexo Company, the 18th worldwide employer, was founded in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, in Marseille, France and is the global leader in services that improves Quality of Life. We hope that a better quality of life increases the satisfaction and motivation of individuals, thus playing an important role in the organizations’ performance, which are our strategic partners.

Operating in 80 countries, the Group’s 428,000 colleagues are sharing the same passion in offering services. About 75 million people benefits of Sodexo services.
From 1998, the Romanian Sodexo Group, which currently has 540 employees, offers services that improve Quality of Life:
- Benefits for Employees:
- Incentive Programs
- Public Benefits
- Food / catering services
- Facilities’ Management.
The most important results from „Sodexo Universitary Lifestyle Survey” 2014

Reasons for choosing and funding academic education
• 76% attend university to have a guaranty of a future employment opportunities, up from 74% in 2012
• 62% attend university to increase their earning power, up from 36% in 2004
• 63% wants to improve their knowledge in certain areas of interest
• 35% of first-year students reported that university was 'the next obvious step'
• 27% admit that parental pressure was the reason for going to university
• 10% said € 11,265 (£9,000) fees has influenced some choices regarding course or career and (9% from fear of high debt levels)
• 55% were influenced by internet research when choosing a university, up from 27% in 2012
• 21% gleaned information on universities through social network sites up from 11% in 2008
• 26% took parental advice, up from 12% in 2012
• 23% were influenced by teacher advice (14% in 2012)
• 35% said transportation links to home mattered when picking an institution
• 33% said ability to live away from home but close enough for support (29% in 2012)
• 38% prioritised campus universities
• 17% expect to take on debts in excess of € 50,000 (2% in 2012)
• 58% of students expect debts over € 25,000, up from 2% in 2004 
• 13% thought they would leave university debt-free
• For 28%, the expected debt levels are acceptable in terms of a career investment, up from 18% in 2012

Financially support during the academic years
• Students at new universities more likely to work during term time than those at traditional institutions, 29% versus 21%
• 58% of students at traditional universities receive financial support from parents compared to 38% at new institutions
• 19% rely on bank overdrafts to keep afloat

Lifestyle and eating habits

• 34% of students live in a flat or house rented in the private sector
• 48% have monthly expenditure of € 375 and more towards their housing
• 37% found their student housing via the university's website

• 50% stayed in to socialise or went to their friends' flats, halls or houses, up from 42% in 2012
• 76% spend only € 25 or less on going out with friends, up from 67% in 2012
• 20% of them said they spent nothing at all, up from 14% in 2012
• 12% spend more than € 37 a week on socialising, including smoking and drinking
• 80% who socialised less did so because they had higher academic workloads
• 52% also mentioned a lack of cash as a reason for socialising less
• 18% said pressures of holding a part-time job had impeded their ability to get out more often
• 10% spend five hours a day or more socialising compared to 33% back in 2006
• 33% are now tee-total (26% in 2012)
• 40% drink alcohol just once a week

Eating habits
• 45% of total students spend € 25 or less each week in term-time on feeding themselves
• 74% cook a meal from scratch using only raw ingredients at least once a week
• 79% make an effort to eat healthily
• 51% said they miss at least one meal a week
• 34% wanted to eat locally-sourced food, down from 51% in 2008
• The importance of free range produce has waned, 63% thought it important in 2008 compared to 39% in the latest survey
• Sustainable fish is no longer important with just 20% expecting it compared to 46% in 2008
• 66% name price as the key factor in choosing where to buy a meal, down from 74% in 2012
Money and leisure
• 35% spend money on books in a typical week, down from 42% in 2012
• 50% spend weekly on travel in term-time between € 1.25 and € 25
• 8% said they spend more than 10 hours a week in the university library
• 69% spend 10 hours or less a week logged on to Facebook, Twitter and similar sites
• 74% spend two to five hours a day in lectures, seminars or in the lab
• 72% spend two to five hours a day doing private study
• 21% spend some time to paid work in the average day
• 51% said they devote an hour or two in a typical day to sport or exercise
• 45% said they do none at all

Personal Pressures
• 84% said they worried about securing their desired degree classification, up from 72% in 2012 and 61% in 2004 when the survey was first carried out
• 54% are worried about finding a job after graduation, down by 2% since 2012
• 63% of those living at home were concerned about their job prospects
• 36% were concerned about feeling isolated

University facilities and services
• 31% said they wanted to have access to more lectures online
• 76% said they would like to see their normal lectures recorded to view at another time
• 24% said good Wi-Fi access was the top factor when looking at accommodation
• 2% are interested into having a student bar or café as a top priority
• 56% appreciate the efforts of universities to conduct sustainability strategies and the effort to reduce energy consumption
• 22% wanted improvement in social areas, such as bars and clubs run by the university
• 21% required better IT facilities
• 19% requested improved library services
• 16% would appreciate if sports facilities were improved


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