Why satisfaction matters to us


Our common room, probably.

It’s the time of year when thoughts turn to A-level results and to final decisions about which university to pick. To help with that, the annual survey of student satisfaction releases its results to the world today.

For the second time in its short history, Surrey Politics has topped the subject list, with a 100% satisfaction rate. Overall, Surrey is 5th in the country. Pretty good.

We are incredibly happy with the vote of confidence that our departing cohort of students have given us, not least because it’s a real vindication of our efforts to bring them into the community that we’ve been trying to build over the years. Perhaps even more than in previous years, our students have been a vital part of determining the direction and development of the Department and its teaching programmes. In sort, we have been very lucky to have such a committed and engaged group of individuals. It is fair to say that without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Which also leaves us in a bit of dilemma.

On the one hand, we want to share with others – not least, new applicants and new students – the quality of what we’ve done. On the other, we also know that each group is different and that how things were might well not be how things are.

So how can you – say, as someone thinking of coming to join us – feel confident about what we can offer? Two ways spring to mind.

Firstly, we have a track record. Not just this year, but for many years now, we have achieved really good outcomes for our students, be that on satisfaction or graduate employment or the other things that go into league tables: that suggests it’s not just about our students, but also about how we work with them. Our colleagues put a lot of their time and effort into making the very best of what we offer, supporting student learning and generally being there.

Secondly, we never stop working to make the programme work even better. Since we don’t get any laurels for perfect satisfaction, there are none on which to rest, which is one reason why we’ve been reviewing our provision for the coming year, to see how we can continue to sustain a stimulating and engaging environment for all our students.

We’ve never quite got round to sitting down and writing a mission statement or anything else so highfalutin’, but we do have a set of shared values that inform everything we do. Key among those has been that we try to be very open about what we do. We have a proud history of engaging with a broad range of people, both across the university and far beyond. We talk with lots of relevant people about our research and our teaching, sharing new ideas  and trying things out. Basically, you can see what do we do and how we do it, and that matters because it’s a great indication of our openness, adaptability and resilience.

Our departing students were brilliant, in their way, and we will miss them. Our current students are also brilliant, in different ways, and we will work with them to make sure that they get the very best experience from their time with us. And we’ll be doing the same with all of our future students, whatever their programme, whatever their background. We hope you can be part of that.