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SDU’s study environment rated highly among students

According to a recent survey in which more than 10,000 SDU students participated, the university’s study environment has never been better

Af Katrine Findsen, kafi@sdu.dk, 04-09-2017

Students are enjoying their time at SDU. So much so, in fact, that when asked how they feel about studying at the university, it was given an average score of 7.1 (on a scale of 1-10) from its students this year. It is the highest score SDU has ever achieved, and one that is welcomed by the vice dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Lars Grassmé Binderup, who is also the head of the study environment survey’s steering committee.

- We have made a determined effort to improve the study environment in a large number of areas and in every part of the organisation, and it is extremely encouraging to see that we are, in fact, succeeding in a great many ways and that so many students are doing well, he says.

Many students still feeling stressed

However, Lars Grassmé Binderup also noted that while the study environment in general is improving, the survey also reveals a fly in the ointment, namely that there are still students who feel stressed on a day-to-day basis.

- Among other things, there are some external factors that are pressuring students, such as the Study Progress Reform. We can clearly see that it is those students who are most pressed for time and lagging behind in their studies who are often more dissatisfied with the study environment.

- But that doesn’t change the fact that it is our job as an educational institution to take care of the students who feel stressed. There are many indications that the numerous initiatives we currently have in place to ensure that students stay on track with their studies will also have a positive effect on the satisfaction of the students who have fallen behind. If we make sure to help them complete their studies on time, they will also be more satisfied with studying here, he adds.

Better data

With regards to stress, this year’s questionnaire contained a number of additional questions for students who feel stressed that were not included in the 2015 version. The purpose of these questions was to make it possible to distinguish between students who feel busy as opposed to those who actually feel stressed, which puts people at risk of illness and dropping out, Lars Grassmé Binderup explains.

- We’ve gotten even better data than in the past, which will make it easier for us to implement relevant measures in areas where they are needed. The same applies to offensive behaviour. With this survey, we now have far better information than we have had in the past because we asked students to elaborate in more detail. This was also the first time we directly asked students whether they feel discriminated against.

Lars Grassmé Binderup tells that this will allow the university management team to delve deeper into the numbers and help them more accurately identify the causes behind these issues.

Combating loneliness

One of the focus areas for creating a better study environment has been to combat loneliness among students, and there is also some good news on that front, says Lars Grassmé Binderup.

- The proportion of students who say they feel lonely has remained roughly unchanged in relation to 2015. However, there are more students who have joined study groups - a five percentage point increase - and this is a encouraging development which in the long term may contribute to fewer students feeling lonely.

Deciding on focus areas

In spite of the generally positive development of the study environment, SDU’s management team has no intention of resting on its laurels, as work must continue in the areas where there is still room for improvement. In the coming period, the university will determine a number of focus areas at the university level, while at the same time, each faculty, department and programme will also be delving into the results of the survey and developing local initiatives, said Lars Grassmé Binderup, adding that the university surroundings are also a focus area for the management team.

- There are several places where we are working on creating a better physical environment for the students. We can clearly see from the survey that students at the new campuses in Kolding and Sønderborg are more satisfied than those in Esbjerg and Slagelse. We must therefore also expect that the planned construction projects at both campuses will have a positive impact on the study environment, he says.

- Ensuring the well-being of our students is a high priority for us, Lars Grassmé Binderup adds.

- It’s a shared responsibility that must be addressed, and I’m fairly certain that the next time we take the temperature of the study environment - in 2019 - we will find that there have been improvements in a lot of different areas.

A summery of the survey can be found here.

 

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