Durham university & student satisfaction surveys

(22 Posts)
Honeywort Tue 02-Jul-19 09:21:45

Hello there,

My DS is interested in the general engineering degree at Durham. But when you compare courses on the unistats website, their student satisfaction rates are a bit concerning. I know student satisfaction surveys have their own limitations but it really stands out that Durham’s satisfaction ratings tend to be in the high 60s while the other university courses he looked at are rated in high 80s or even 90s (Cambridge & Warwick for general engineering, plus Nottingham).

If it was just “oh student satisfaction surveys are overly negative” wouldn’t all universities get similar type results? Have heard that LSE students almost pride themselves on poor satisfaction survey results. Is this true of Durham? Or is it a marmite type of university? Or is something else going on.

DS is going to the open day this weekend so can get a feel for the place himself but I would be interested to hear what anyone else thinks

OP’s posts: |
stucknoue Tue 02-Jul-19 09:29:11

Ignore them, talk to current students instead. Some universities barely bother to promote it so only those with a grudge to bare fill them in, also as very few people attend more than one university how do they know how good it is?

TonTonMacoute Tue 02-Jul-19 09:33:47

I would take far more notice of the vibe from the open day than from a survey.

For what it's worth, DS is just home from the most blissfully happy first year at Durham, he's not studying engineering though.

goodbyestranger Tue 02-Jul-19 10:39:37

The satisfaction rate is 91% for History so perhaps there is something worth looking at more closely in the Engineering Dept - I've no idea (I have a DS there, also extremely happy, but doesn't do Engineering) but that rating isn't uni wide, clearly.

goodbyestranger Tue 02-Jul-19 10:41:53

I've just typed in MEng at Durham and it comes up with 83% confused.

Seniorschoolmum Tue 02-Jul-19 10:44:57

Student satisfaction reflects everything from food & halls to quality of WiFi as well as quality of tutors. It can differ from course to course, building to building.
I’d take more notice of 3rd year students on the same course. Can you talk to them at the open days?

BubblesBuddy Tue 02-Jul-19 10:47:31

In some universities and departments it is pushed regarding filling in the questionnaire. In others it’s not mentioned. I would be more concerned about employment rates. Also students who are expected to work without continual input tend to score universities poorly for teaching.

I would also question how many of these engineers actually stay in Engineering. General Engineering is often an entry qualification for finance work! So what do grads actually do afterwards?

If I’m honest, choosing a precise Engineering discipline is often the best route for people who want to be engineers because the individual disciplines take 4 years of study. This is why General can be very much a degree that’s taken by people who move over to finance after graduation. They never do decide to be engineers.


ErrolTheDragon Tue 02-Jul-19 11:10:43

My DD is doing engineering at Cambridge- somewhat in line with what Bubbles is saying, all her other choices were a single field (EEE) as she came to the conclusion Cambridge was the only general engineering course which would deliver 'generalise then specialise' well enough. She frankly didn't rate Durham at all. Whereas it's an excellent uni for many subjects, it doesn't really seem to have that much of a reputation for engineering.

Not saying she's right, but she did consider courses very carefully.

QS rankings for engineering, you can filter to just see U.K. - Durham is quite a long way down the list.

Student satisfaction surveys may be taken with a pinch of salt but I'd give some thought to that listing if I was your DS, OP.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 02-Jul-19 11:11:08

Sorry, forgot the link


Honeywort Tue 02-Jul-19 13:57:28

Thank you all - very helpful responses and lots to think about. I think you definitely have a point Errol, and DS probably does need to think harder about the branch of engineering he wants to do, I think he’s just very drawn to the idea of keeping his options open as long as possible,
And you’re right about MEng scoring 83%, @goodbyestranger. DS had been looking at the scores for BEng (which are 67% overall). So the discrepancy between the two suggests that the methodology is a bit suspect I think.

Thanks again everyone

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Tue 02-Jul-19 14:25:09

I believe the satisfaction surveys often have very small sample sizes, and I'd hope that the BEng would be extremely small because surely the vast majority of students would be completing the full MEng. It's quite likely to disproportionately contain students who were dissatisfied, I'd have thought.

BubblesBuddy Tue 02-Jul-19 15:35:37

Honeywort: May I suggest your DS looks at all the “job” descriptions provided by the engineering institutions. For example ICE (Civil engineers) gives an excellent overview of what they do on their web site and how to get Chartered. The other disciplines will have the same info. There is also the Engineering Council which regulates the profession and they have a wealth of information too. There might be careers sections to speak to and exhibitions to visit to narrow down choices.

Think about what interests him then look to see which branch of engineering fits this best of all. It’s a massive subject and most degrees in this country are not general simply because the subject matter is enormous! I advise having a look at Sheffield's Civil and Structural Engineering MEng syllabus and you will see what I mean. Specialising late suits some people but not the majority. Also MEng is preferable if his results will be good enough. BEng then a Masters also works but often the best students are on MEng courses but BEng students can transfer into them, usually after first year.

titchy Tue 02-Jul-19 15:45:40

I know nothing about how Durham structures its Engineering courses, but is it possible that BEng people were MEng-ers who were told their first and second year marks weren't good enough for MEng and therefore they were moved to BEng - and pissed off with that decision?

goodbyestranger Tue 02-Jul-19 15:55:57

It's how they structure their other science courses titchy, so it's entirely possible that that accounts for the discrepancy.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 02-Jul-19 16:20:22

MEng/BEng depending on results in the first or second years was the norm for all the courses DD looked at. Of course some will voluntarily decide 3 years is enough, particularly if a placement employer offers them a job.

Is your DS applying this year or next, OP? If he's just finished GCSEs then he might want to apply for a Headstart course next summer, those can give a useful taster. But open days and visiting the various departments (for unis which don't just do Gen. Eng) may also be informative.

BubblesBuddy Tue 02-Jul-19 19:28:30

Durham is slightly odd in that A*AA is required for BEng and MEng degrees. BEng are strongly advised to do an additional year abroad or placement making it 4 years. This is slightly odd because the MEng at other universities might offer a year abroad for year 3, but they are still 4 years, not 5. I think the slight problem with Durham is that GE is their only course so they are not really an engineering powerhouse. Like many engineering degrees, the third year is very much project. Teaching drops away and individual research and application of study takes over. This may not suit some students in their third year. Hence the low satisfaction scores. MEng do this in the 4th year.

Honeywort Tue 02-Jul-19 20:58:25

Thank you all again , great advice bubbles and good thinking titchy. Yes, Errol, I can see that it would be really useful for DS to visit a “normal” engineering university and go to the talks there. Will get him to check out dates. He’s lower 6th now (year 12?) but hasnfound deciding on a university course quite daunting. He is doing well academically but I think he’s worrying about the finality of the decision iykwim.

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 03-Jul-19 12:30:46

Some universities do the same modules on engineering courses for first year. Then there are specialisms. Try and look at the Institutions’ web sites. Don’t just go to university talks because you would need a lot of time to cover every discipline.

Good engineering universities are: Manchester, Sheffield, Imperial, Southampton, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle - generally red bricks! Also consider ex polytechnics. They have good links with industry and can deliver excellent courses.

If he’s y12, he does need to try and narrow down courses if he can. What interests him about “engineering”? What hobbies does he have?

noteventherain Thu 15-Aug-19 18:05:37

Just wanted to clear up a little bit of misinformation in this thread - have just graduated from Durham myself, not Engineering but with friends doing it. BEng is is pretty much exclusively those who fail out of the MEng, which is based on second year mark (you need a goodish 2:2 to continue on 4 year course). Although the degree is general you do specialize in your final year. Final year is not 'just' project, it's half project, so you keep studying other modules alongside. Most people do general engineering because they're not 100% sure which kind of engineering they want to end up doing, and all of those I know ended up specializing in something different to what they thought they would when doing A-levels! So it's a good option if you're not totally sure, although if you are you may be better off doing a specific one. The only major complaints that people I know who studied engineering had about the course were that it was hard - but then that's what you should expect from engineering! Hope that helps smile

BubblesBuddy Thu 15-Aug-19 20:09:46

The BEng course surely recruits separately or why would it be in the prospectus? Also 50% project is a big reduction in teaching and is more about application and self reliance. It’s a normal thing for engineering courses but it seems impossible the BEng grads are all MEng rejections with lower than a 2:2 after second year. This is Durham where entry standards are high!

noteventherain Thu 15-Aug-19 20:49:49

It may recruit seperately, but because MEng is now the expected standard for engineers, very few choose to take the BEng! Given that unistats only has data for ~15 BEng people vs 150 MEng it's clearly not popular. High entry standards don't translate to people always doing well when they do actually get to Durham unfortunately - 15 dropdowns out of 150 is totally plausible!

IMO the project wouldn't have much impact on satisfaction in 3rd vs 4th year because all degree subjects have a project of the same magnitude in final year, be that 3rd or 4th - although now I think about it, it might be the case that there are less good/less interesting project options in the 3rd year as a result of less content having been studied, which could impact the satisfaction scores! Food for thought anyway.

vbhimjiyani Sat 25-Apr-20 15:59:53

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