2017 Insights

Unite Students’ 2017 Applicant Insight Survey, Reality Check, reveals the expectations of this year’s university applicants, and shows that they are unlikely to be met.

Download your free copy of the Unite Students – HEPI Applicant Insight Report here

Reality check report

“I hope this report will focus attention on applicants’ needs at this critical moment in their lives, ensuring that their needs are better understood and met”
Richard Smith, CEO Unite Students

Unite Students worked in partnership with the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and YouthSight on this first-of-its-kind report. Key findings include:

  • Applicants expect a higher level of teaching time and support than they are likely to receive at university
  • Applicants approach university in an emotionally heightened state, and are less happy and more anxious than non-applicants of the same age
  • Some groups of applicants are more anxious about the social side of university, including students from working class backgrounds, and students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or ‘other’ sexuality
  • 13% of applicants have a mental health condition, but only 37% of these intend to disclose it to their university
“The degree to which prior expectations are met goes a long way to explaining students’ perceptions of value for money”
Nick Hillman, Director HEPI

You can view our press release that accompanied this report here

The full dataset is available to download for your own analysis here

Our insights

Every year we invest up to £0.5 million in primary research, surveying and data analysis to ensure we maintain a deep understanding of students' needs, wants and motivations.

Our Unite Student Insight Report is published each summer, giving a comprehensive overview of the non-academic student experience. We occasionally publish additional topic pieces on specific aspects of student life.

Our partner universities and HE sector organisations have enhanced access to our data and insight. If you would like to learn more about our insight programme please contact us at HE@unitestudents.com

“I think they have undertaken the research and they’ve been very proactive with it, and I think that they’ve listened to what students have said.”
Tricia Punchard, Assistant Director of Residences, University of Exeter

2016 insights

Working in partnership with YouGov and Youthsight, we conducted our annual student insight survey during March and April 2016. Over 6,500 students and over 2,100 applicants were surveyed, investigating the key non-academic elements of student life.

This year’s survey results underlined the importance of learning and development outside the formal academic environment. It looks at contributing factors to student happiness, and to retention. A key finding is the importance of resilience skills – planning, goal setting, self-management and the ability to recover from a setback.

“More than just the physical environment, what Unite do is provide a financial and physical guarantee of stability for students. In doing so they provide a very secure learning environment for students for their time at University"
Neil Burns, Development Officer, University of Edinburgh

Student accommodation and social networks play crucial roles in developing these skills. Students who are happier with their accommodation, who feel connected and able to reach out for support, tend to be happier with life overall. Students who are satisfied with the communal areas in their accommodation are more likely to feel integrated with others. Flatmates are an important source of support in difficult times.

Read the 2016 Students Insight report

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