St Mary's boasts happiest university students
THE west Belfast college that trains teachers for Catholic schools boasts some of the happiest students.
Almost every final-year student at St Mary's University College said they were satisfied with the quality of their course.
The annual National Student Survey (NSS) found 95 per cent at St Mary's enjoyed their overall university experience - the third highest rating of any institution in Britain and Northern Ireland.
The findings published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England were based on answers from 300,000 final-year students at universities and further education colleges.
The number of students satisfied with their course remains at a record high, although thousands are dissatisfied with the overall quality they receive.
The average overall satisfaction rate of 86% per cent matched the figure for the last two years, in spite of a rise in tuition fees in 2012 in England that would have affected those graduating in 2015 and 2016.
About seven per cent of students said they were dissatisfied with their education and the same number were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
Almost three-quarters of students took part in the survey this year - roughly 312,000 respondents.
The top satisfaction rates in higher education were recorded at the University of Buckingham and the University of Law - both 97 per cent.
At Stranmillis University College in Belfast the figure was 91 per cent, while it was 90 and 88 per cent at Queen's and Ulster universities respectively.
The Open University in Northern Ireland was also highly rated, receiving a rating of 91 per cent.
The survey highlighted OU’s strength in academic support, assessment and feedback.
"To be rated so highly by our students is great - a great accolade for all of our staff here," said National Director of the Open University, John D'Arcy.
"At the Open University, our students are our top priority. Our students often face significant barriers to studying at higher education level. Most are balancing their studies around work and caring commitments.
"We are proud to have helped tens of thousands of people across Northern Ireland meet their educational potential and go on to develop highly successful careers."
Organisers said the survey provides valuable information for prospective students, and helps universities and colleges further improve the education they offer.
Professor Janet Beer, chair of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group, said the NSS had been an "overwhelming success" which helped "prospective students make informed choices".