The follow-up on the study environment survey 2020 is in process

It’s time to evaluate the academic environment at Aarhus University. With your answers in 2020, you contributed to improving the academic environment at AU and making a difference for yourself and your fellow students.

About the survey

Since 2007, Aarhus University has performed a study environment survey every third year – most recently in 2017. In 2020, it was the first time that the survey was performed as an integrated part of the national survey carried out by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

In the questionnaire, you were asked about your academic and social well-being. A wide variety of topics were covered, including well-being, feedback, contact to your lecturers, physical infrastructure, stress and loneliness as well as bullying. 

The survey was performed by Epinion on behalf of the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

 

How will the results be used?

The study environment survey is an important tool to help the university provide a good environment for learning and study to all students.

The university actively takes steps to address the challenges the surveys bring to light. After the last survey in 2017, the University introduced a number of initiatives – here are a few examples:

  • The quality of the academic environment is high on the agenda in relation to the physical development of its campuses
  • AU’s Educational IT initiative focuses on using technology to strengthen a differentiated learning environment and give students better opportunities for giving feedback
  • AU introduced the campaign ‘Zero Tolerance’ which is about encouraging students not to tolerate harassment, bullying, violence or discrimination in any form.
  • The Student Council and the other student organisations have contributed to the development of initiatives to prevent stress among students.
  • In connection with the covid-19 situation, AU has supported the development of AU Studypedia, which is a tool students can use to improve their academic and social well-being in a difficult time.
  • The faculties have also introduced their own local initiatives to improve the academic environment for students on individual degree programmes.

The results are also used by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in relation to:

  • The Learning Questionnaire (Læringsbarometer) (which uncovers the students' perception of their degree programme learning environment and their own approach to learning)
  • "Uddannelseszoom" (online guidance tool for coming students)
  • Well-being (under the auspices of the ministry's Trivselskontor)
  • Teaching environment (under the auspices of Dansk Center for Undervisningsmiljø).

Important dates

  • Tuesday 20 October: You will receive the questionnaire in your e-Boks
  • Thursday 22 October: You will receive the questionnaire in your AU inbox.
  • October – November: You will receive a series of reminders in your e-Boks, your AU inbox and by text message.
  • Friday 15 December: Deadline for taking the survey
  • Spring 2021: Publication of results
  • April-June: Selected data sets from the survey are discussed at i.e. board of studies meetings and in the annual status review meetings on the degree programmes at AU
  • Autumn 2021: Data from the 2020 survey forms the basis for AU's assessment of the teaching environment. This assessment systematically examines the university's psychological, physical and aestetic teaching environment with the aim of developing plans of action.

Results from the study environment survey 2020

AU's study environment survey is based on data collected by Epinion for the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and Aarhus University. Among other things, the results of the study form the basis for the university's teaching environment assessment, which is carried out every 3 years.

The survey is conducted in a 2-year cadence and was last conducted in the fall of 2020.

The questionnaire was sent to 33,381 full-time students at Aarhus University and 11,133 responded to the survey, giving an overall response rate of 33.4%.

In 2020, the survey results may be affected by corona restrictions and periodic lockdown of AU. The questionnaire survey was conducted from the 20th of October to the 15th of December 2020. During this time, the university was subject to a number of corona restrictions of importance to teaching, but was not physically shut down.

Following the spring lockdown, in the early summer of 2020, the university conducted a study of the transition to online teaching and exams. The purpose of the study was to draw lessons from these experiences in order to strengthen AU's forward-looking approach to digitised teaching and exams. Report and main conclusions can be found here: https://newsroom.au.dk/nyheder/vis/artikel/hvad-laerte-vi-af-foraarets-corona-undervisning.

Quality

Degree programme quality has been the subject of many discussions and attempts at definition in recent years. The ministry's student survey contains a question in which the students are asked to evaluate the overall quality of their degree programme. It should be noted that such an evaluation cannot, of course, be taken in isolation when assessing degree programme quality. Rather, the evaluation of the statement itself can be understood as an expression of the student’s immediate overall level of satisfaction with the degree programme in general.

Main findings: Quality

The quality of my programme is generally high:

  • In 2016, 2018 and 2020, students responded that the quality of their degree programme is generally high. In 2020, 90% of respondents 'Strongly agree' or 'Agree' that the quality of their degree programme is generally high, which to a large extent corresponds to the result in 2016 (87%) and 2018 (91%).
  • Minor differences between the faculties are evident. Respondents from AR (87%), BSS (89%), HE (92%), Nat (95%) and Tech (89%) responded that they 'Strongly agree' or 'Agree' that the quality of their degree programme is generally high.
  • There are no differences correlated with degree programme level or gender.

Click here for an in-depth note

Study environment, well-being and support

Below are selected results from the student survey from autumn 2020, and deals with the respondents’ assessment of the educational and social environment, their general level of well-being on their programme, as well as their knowledge of where they get support and guidance if they are struggling.

Main findings: Study environment:

There is a good educational environment

  • Generally, the respondents responded that their degree programmes have a good academic environment, and this evaluation is stable over time: 2020 (90%), 2018 (91%) and 2016 (87%).

There is a good social study environment

  • Fewer respondents responded that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree' that their degree programmes have a good social study environment: 2020 (78%), 2018 (83%) and 2016 (79%), relative to their evaluation of the educational environment.
  • The percentage of respondents who 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree' that there is a good social study environment is highest at Nat (87%), followed by HE (82%), Tech (82%), AR (76%) and finally BSS (73%).
  • Eighty-two per cent of academic Bachelor’s degree students responded that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree' that there is a good social study environment. This applies to 80% of professional Bachelor's degree student respondents and 72% of Master’s degree student respondents.

In general, I feel really good at my education

  • In 2018, 82% responded that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree' that they generally feel very content with their degree programme. We see a slight decrease in 2020, where this applies to 79% of the respondents.

I know where to get support and guidance at my campus if I’m not well

  • Seventy-two per cent responded that they know where they can get support and guidance from their programme if they are not flourishing. The percentage is more or less identical at four of the faculties: Nat (77%), Tech (75%), HE (74%) and AR (75%); however, it is significantly lower at BSS: just 64%.
  • Seventy-seven per cent of respondents from professional Bachelor’s degree programmes responded that they know where they can get support and guidance from their programme. This applies to 74% of the academic Bachelor’s degree student respondents and 67% of the Master’s degree programme student respondents.

The coronavirus and student well-being

Due to the coronavirus situation's impact on well-being, the ministry's 2020 student survey contains four questions concerning the coronavirus and the shutdown of the educational sector. The central issue is student well-being during the coronavirus pandemic, and both the shutdown last spring as well as daily life during the autumn, when the survey was conducted, are addressed.

Main findings: Well-being during the coronavirus pandemic

I had a hard time during the corona-shutdown in the spring:

  • The majority of respondents (63%) responded that they 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' that they had a hard time during the coronavirus shutdown in the spring. The figure is 59% for Denmark as a whole2.
  • 68% of the respondents on academic Bachelor's degree programmes responded that they 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' with the statement, while this applies to 59% of respondents on professional Bachelor’s programmes and 57% of respondents on Master’s degree programmes. This corresponds with results at the national level.

The shutdown have not delayed me in my studies

  • 76% responded that they 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' that the shutdown did not delay their progress in their studies. Nationwide, 64% of respondents indicated that the shutdown did not delay their progress.

Today, my everyday life in my study program works well despite the corona situation:

  • 67% of the respondents responded that they 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' with the statement – nationwide, the percentage is 66%.
  • 77% of the professional Bachelor’s degree students who took the survey responded that they 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' that their everyday lives as students are functioning well despite the coronavirus situation. This applies to just 63% of the academic Bachelor’s degree student respondents. The percentage is 69% for the Master’s degree student respondents. Nationwide, more professional Bachelor's degree students (68%) responded that they 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' that their everyday lives are functioning well despite the coronavirus situation; the lowest positive response rate was among academic Bachelor’s degree students (62%).

The Corona situation removes some of the joy of studiyng:

  • 78% respond that they 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' that the coronavirus situation has diminished their enjoyment of their studies to some degree. Nationwide, this applies to 70% of respondents on post-secondary degree programmes.
  • 82% of the respondents among academic Bachelor degree students, 76% among Master’s degree student respondents and 68% of the respondents from the professional Bachelor's degree programmes 'Completely agree' or 'Agree' that the coronavirus situation diminished their enjoyment of their studies to some degree.  Nationwide, this applies to 77% of academic Bachelor’s degree student respondents, 74% of Master’s degree student respondents and 66% of professional Bachelor’s degree respondents.

Click here for an in-depth note 

Loneliness

Loneliness is not a new problem among university students. For this reason, the topic was always addressed both in AU’s previous study environment surveys (SMU) and in the extensive student survey conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education and science every two years – most recently in the autumn of 2020.

Main findings: Loneliness

Have you experienced feeling lonely at your study?:

  • Almost half (46%) off the respondents reported feeling lonely 'Sometimes', 'Often' or 'Always’. Nationwide, the percentage is 43% for post-secondary degree programmes. The faculty with the highest percentage of respondents who reported feeling lonely was BSS (50%); Tech had the lowest percentage (39%).
  • With regard to degree programme level, 39% of professional Bachelor’s student respondents reported feeling lonely 'Sometimes', 'Often' or 'Always’, while the response rates were 48% for academic Bachelor’s degree student respondents and 47% for Master’s degree programme student respondents. The percentage among both types of Bachelor’s degree student corresponds to the national average – while the percentage of Master’s degree student respondents nationwide (51%) is a slightly higher than at AU.
  • 50% of female respondents reported feeling lonely 'Sometimes', 'Often' or 'Always’. The percentage for male respondents is 40%.
  • The percentage of students who reported experiencing loneliness on the degree programme has increased over the period 2014-2020. The increase was particularly marked from 2018 to 2020. The percentage of respondents who indicated that they 'Sometimes', 'Often' or 'Always’ felt lonely increased from 40% in 2018 to 46% in 2020 – an increase of 6 percentage points. Nationwide there was also an increase, from 35% in 2018 to 43% in 2020.

Stress

Stress has been high on the agenda in recent years. This applies to all aspects of our society, including the educational sector. For this reason, the topic has been addressed both in AU’s previous study environment surveys (SMU) and in the extensive student survey conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education and science every two years – most recently in the autumn of 2020.

In the above-mentioned surveys, students at AU were asked whether they have experienced severe stress symptoms in connection with their daily life as well as whether they have experienced severe stress symptoms in connection with exams. This year, a new question was added about the extent to which students have felt pressurised by a variety of different conditions recently. The conditions about which students were asked include both degree programme-related issues and non-degree programme-related issues.

Main findings: Stress

  • 20% of the respondents indicate 'Often ' or 'Always' feeling stressed in their everyday lives. More female respondents (23%) experience this than male (16%).
  • The percentage of respondents who experience stress increases significantly in connection with exams (39%). There are also significant differences between the sexes in this regard, with 45% of female respondents compared to 30% of the male 'Often ' or 'Always' experiencing severe stress symptoms in connection with exams.  
  • The respondents selected their own expectations with regard to their academic performance degree programme as the most important source of perceived pressure during the survey period. The percentage of students who indicated that they experience stress in their everyday lives and in connection with exams has remained virtually unchanged in the last three surveys.

Feedback

Feedback has been the subject of much discussion in recent years, and a question about feedback has been included in the Ministry's survey since 2016. In 2020, students at Aarhus University had the opportunity to respond to an additional four questions concerning feedback. This year’s student survey thus included a total of five questions about feedback. The questions fall under two categories and include three questions concerning the value of the feedback provided as well as two questions relating to the scope of the feedback provided.

Main findings: Feedback

Value of feedback

  • At AU, 49% of respondents replied that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree'2 that their teachers provide helpful feedback. A majority (61%) of the respondents from Nat indicated that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree’ with the statement – which applies to just 29% of the respondents at HE.
  • 45% of the respondents replied that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree' that material they have not fully understood is made clearer by the feedback they receive. Here again, there are major differences between the faculties. Where AR, BSS and Tech rank relatively close to the AU average, 62% of the respondents from Nat and only 29% from HE say that they  'Agree' or 'Strongly agree' with the statement.
  • To the question about the extent to which the feedback that the students receive helps them make progress in working with the material they need to learn, 66% replied that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree'. There are also large differences between the faculties.  The largest percentage at Nat (78%) and the smallest percentage at HE (49%) replied that they feedback they receive helps them make progress in working with the material they need to learn.

Amount of feedback:

  • Fewer than one in five respondents from HE (19%) replied that they ‘Agree’ or ‘Strongly agree’ that they receive feedback on their work on a regular basis. This applies to just under one in three respondents from BSS (30%), 44% at AR and over half of the respondents from Tech (51%) and Nat (66%).
  • A total of 46% replied that they 'Agree' or 'Strongly agree' that they get enough academic feedback. However, this applies to just 28% of respondents from HE – and for 70% of respondents from Nat.

Time on task

Time on task (the amount of time students spend on their academic work for their degree programmes) has been much discussed in recent years. And students were asked to indicate how much time they spend on their respective degree programmes in the Ministry’s student survey. Time on task was included in the 2018 survey using the same methodology.

Main findings: Time on task

  • The average time on task reported AU students is 37.3 hrs. pr. wk. in 2020, which is, which is 1.4 hrs. less than in 2018, when students reported that they spent 38.7 hours on task in a typical week.
  • There are differences across the five faculties with respect to reported time on task. Students at Tech reported that they spend 42.7 hrs. pr. wk., at Nat 41.4 hrs. pr. wk., at HE 39,1 hrs. pr. wk., at BSS 36.2 hrs. pr, wk. and at AR 33.9 hrs. pr. wk.
  • Students with paid work (53%) reported spending an average of 10.9 hrs. pr. wk. working.
  • Students involved in volunteering (24%) reported spending an average of 4.7 hrs. pr. wk. on these activities.

See previous surveys

Since 2007, Aarhus University has been performing regular study environment surveys to take the temperature of students’ well-being.