2019 saw the second implementation of a revised and structured survey instrument. Over 900 students from across the population participated in this survey, contributing to a valuable data set on how students engage with their Students’ Union, their University and with their studies and welfare.
Student opinion is at the heart of MSU’s work planning and enhancement processes, and is integral to informing how the Union can improve the quality of everything they do. Student surveys form a robust statistical evidence base for making decisions on how to best prioritise resources to have the most positive impact on the student body.
The survey of annual opinion, in this context, explores the understanding of the Union and its activities, and, also, examines the societal and personal factors that impact on the student experience. The results of the survey are intended to add value at institutional level, and to inform Students’ Union activities.
You can download and read the full Report here. It details the methology used as well as an overview and key findings from each section. It concludes with a Recommendations section which outlines areas that MSU can focus on during this year.
10 Key Findings:
NOTE: Comparisons on last year’s Survey will be included as percentage point increases, or decreases.
Eg. A rise from 28% of students to 32% of students will be expressed as (+4%pts)
Awareness of Union structures is generally good:
70% (+2%pts) of students are aware that they became members of the Students’ Union at point of registration, with a similar amount expressing that they have previously voted in SU election and are aware of Student Senate. However, this does suggest that close to ? of students are unaware of, or disinterested in, Union structures.
Awareness of certain representative roles is poor:
The student body is split when it comes to recognising who their Academic REP is. Whether this points to a lack of awareness of the role or just the name of the specific person is unclear. Recognition for the role of Faculty Convenor is considerably less, with fewer than 13% (-4%pts) of students knowing who their particular Convenor is.
Students value the opportunity to provide feedback:
When questioned about the importance of students having the opportunity to provide feedback on the quality of their course almost all rated this as Important with close to 74% (+4%pts) rating it Very Important. This could be important for curriculum development as close to 28% of students Disagree that their studies are adequately preparing them for work life after college. Of note is that recognition of the SELE module feedback mechanism is below 55%.
Students positive about their academic experience, but increasing concerns around belonging:
When questioned about the student academic support available in the University over 70% agree that they make full use of them (no change). Close to 85% (no change) would also recommend their current course of study to other students. While almost 68% of students currently feel they belong on their course, approximately 32% (+5%pts) of students that don’t is a cause for concern, especially considering this figure has risen year on year.
Issues impacting negatively on college experience increasing across the board:
Over half the student population cite Financial [59% (+5%pts)], Mental Health [56% (+11%pts)] and Excessive College Workload [51% (New metric)] challenges as impacting negatively on their student experience. Accommodation problems [25% (+13%pts)] and physical health problems [29% (+5%pts)] also feature prominently. Bullying & Harassment, Personal Safety and Sexual Health problems were experienced by less than 10% of the population.
Students are increasingly combining study with a working life:
Over 66% (+6%pts) of students indicate that they are currently in employment with close to half of these working for between 11 and 20 hours. A further 15% are working more than 21-30 hours per week, but worryingly the amount of students working in excess of 30 hours per week is 18% (+11%pts). Allowances should be made for part-time or postgraduate students, but this is still a large amount of students working an increasing number of hours alongside their study week.
Increased satisfaction about college experience, but caution urged:
Over 84% (+4%pts) indicate they are enjoying their college experience. When questioned about the student service supports available in the University 37% (+5%pts) agree that they make full use of them. An increased willingness to get more involved in extra/co-curricular activities on campus is indicated by the majority of students [78% (+4%pts)]. While over 75% of students currently feel they belong in Maynooth, the 25% (+2%pts) of students that don’t is a continuing cause for concern.
Societies numbers up but Clubs & Societies still suffering from student commitments:
39% of students are not a member of any Societies a fall of (-5%pts), this number remains at 64% for Clubs. When questioned why, Commuting 42% (-4%pts) and College Workload 46% (unchanged) and Work Commitments 30% (+7%pts) were cited as the main reasons for not engaging. Also of note is that 15% (-3%pts) reported that lack of opportunity or awareness was the main factor.
Satisfaction levels with on-campus experience is increasing:
While there is still significant Dissatisfaction with the recreational spaces provided on campus 44% this has dropped by -12%pts. This still contrasts with the 67% (+2%pts) satisfaction level for academic facilities. Computer and Gym facilities seem to split opinion.
The SU is viewed as enhancing the lives of students:
Over 60% of students view the SU as an effective organisation for enhancing the lives of students (+7%pts). A further 28% see the SU as Sometimes Effective. The number reporting Not Effective has dropped by -4%pts to 10%.