Over the last few months, our sister site Whatuni has been travelling across the UK to find out what students really think of their universities and colleges.
Reviewers gave star ratings and provided comments across a wide range of categories, from students’ union and job prospects to student support and city life, to give a real insight into their university experience. These student ratings are all tallied up, and whoever gets the highest score goes home with a Whatuni Student Choice Award (or WUSCA for short).
This year Whatuni have introduced a brand-new category: FE College. In association with the Association of Colleges, students shared their stories of excellent support, engaging course material and modern facilities with the Whatuni team.
10 FE colleges made the final rankings, but only one can take home the WUSCA award…
The first ever winners of this category are Bridgend College.
Home to over 6,000 learners, the college has campuses based at Bridgend, Pencoed, Queens Road, Maesteg and Cardiff. They offer a wide range of courses, including 20 vocational subjects, and qualifications from entry level right up to a degree.
Student reviewers highly praised the “incredibly supportive” academic staff, the “many opportunities” they’d been provided and the “wide range of skills” that their courses were teaching them.
One of the most commonly mentioned attributes which students rated highly was the employment support provided by the college, especially the careers advice. Bridgend offer a number of initiatives to help student’s employability, including enrichment activities to help them gain new skills, providing work placements and partnering alongside Careers Wales for careers advice.
And this isn’t the first award on Bridgend College’s shelf either, as over the last few years they’ve won a number of other prestigious awards including the Best Performing FE College 2016/17, National Award for Excellence and Apprenticeship Provider of the Year.
Students also said:
“Great equipment and facilities.”
“I like how we develop our skills and learn about new software. I also like the fact that we do live projects with a client, because it prepares us for future work placement and the world of work”
“I admire that our tutors are always on hand to help us, if need be. They are always supportive, with class work as well as other things. They are all also very knowledgeable.”
Narrowly missing out on the top spot, Doncaster College and University Centre (DN Colleges Group) takes second place in this category.
One of the biggest higher education providers in South Yorkshire, DN Colleges Group is also a key provider of further education courses. The college offers a range of vocational and academic courses as well as apprenticeships and routes to help you progress into higher education.
Students called the teachers at DN Colleges Group, “clear, informative and friendly”, and “enthusiastic” with many giving high ratings for the fantastic level of support they were being given, with “regular sessions” and extra help should they need it.
The careers advice was also praised by students, who told us they always felt there was someone to ask for help, and support was easy to find. These high ratings are further evidence of the college’s top-quality careers service, which already has a Matrix Award for Excellence, as well as enjoying 100% positive feedback.
Students also said:
“The leaders and tutors on my course are very helpful and always there to help if I have a problem, both personal and academic. The feedback I receive also helps me progress on my course and gives me guidance for the other assignments I have to do.”
“I enjoy the time at the university centre and appreciate the support by the lecturers who go above and beyond to support students who show a willingness to learn.”
“The college are always there to listen and help out with any career opportunities that I apply for. They are more than willing to give me a reference if I need one and I have learnt so much while I have been on my course. I have developed some great transferable skills and often use them at my placement setting”
Taking a place in the top three, Bournemouth and Poole College is the largest provider of FE and apprenticeships in their area. Helping students to build vocational skills to ensure they’re ready for work upon graduation, the college had lots of praise from their students.
Reviewers said the course content was of a “high standard”, the support was “second to none” and the facilities were “fantastic”.
One thing which stood out in student reviews was their enjoyment and appreciation of the work experience opportunities offered by the college. More than 2,000 businesses across Dorset work with the institution to provide students with training and work experience, and students loved the opportunities it presented and the transferable skills learnt from them.
The college has also recently invested £12million to modernise the college, which includes a brand-new building which is home to a 136-seat Performing Arts Theatre, a Digital Media Centre and new laboratories for Health and Medical Sciences. The new building sits alongside the STEM centre, which features digital design suites, mac rooms, Childhood and Social Care classrooms, Performing Arts rehearsal rooms and state-of-the-art laboratories. Student reviewers praised these new facilities too, describing them as “high standard”, “easily accessible” and “fantastic”.
Students also said:
“The college facilities are fantastic and I genuinely believe that for this course, Bournemouth and Poole College is at the top. The computers are great, the building is always clean and the technology here is exceptional.”
“The people at university have had a positive impact on my experience, as well as the lecturers and their delivery of the lessons.”
“Really good, I feel like I progress each lesson and love the work that I am creating. The lecturers support and help gives me extra to improve my work and I have gained a bigger passion for the subject through this.”
To see the full list of accommodation rankings, check out the full table over on Whatuni.
Web and Social Media Editor