University Lifestyle Survey 2016

University studentsSodexo has provided catering, accommodation and facilities management services to the higher education sector for nearly 50 years. As a strategic partner to our university clients across the UK and Ireland we focus on improving student experience through integrated services that promote quality of life.

Sodexo first undertook the University Lifestyle Survey in April 2004 and has subsequently undertaken the research every two years with Times Higher Education magazine as its media partner. The purpose of the survey is to identify and track trends in key non-academic areas of university life as experienced by undergraduate students. The findings provide Sodexo with valuable insight into students’ lives and lifestyles which enables us to provide better services.

The survey results have been validated by Professor Jane Longmore, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Southampton Solent University.

The 2016 survey is the seventh. It is the first survey in which Sodexo has asked students to reflect directly on their quality of life and some of the key factors (e.g. accommodation, social life, health and wellbeing) that influence this.  A representative sample of 2,000 students participated in the research, from 148 universities across the UK. The participants in the survey were full-time undergraduate students from all years of study.

 

Summary of the 2016 survey findings


Report overview

Although the majority of students (85%) of students are happy with their quality of life at university, the increasingly competitive graduate market, rising costs of living and spiraling debt levels are leading millennial students to take university very seriously.

The expectation of debt for UK students has skyrocketed since the introduction of £9,000 fees in 2012, with two-thirds (66%) expecting to leave university with debts of £20,000 or more, double the number (30%) who said this four years ago. Many believe they will rack up far higher debts, with 29 per cent anticipating their debt at graduation to be more than £40,000.

Worryingly, 40 per cent said they did not believe their expected debt was acceptable in terms of their future career prospects, up from 28 per cent in 2014 and 18 per cent in 2012.

These financial anxieties may worsen in coming years as maintenance grants are removed this autumn – a policy which could have major implications for how young people approach university. Asked how they would have approached the choice about going to university, knowing maintenance grants weren’t available, a quarter of female students who currently receive the grants said they would have postponed their studies, whilst one in five males (22%) would not have chosen to go to university at all.

In light of the greater financial burden on students, the survey reveals some interesting lifestyle trends that dispel the stereotype of students as hard-drinking party animals. More than a third (36%) of students report they don’t drink alcohol, up from 26 per cent in 2012 and 28 per cent say they don’t spend anything on socialising. Instead, there is a strong café culture at universities – over half of students (53%) spend up to £20 a week on tea and coffee from university cafés.

University Lifestyle Survey

UniLifestyle-brochure2016-cover.pngSodexo, in association with Times Higher Education, conducts a biennial survey to help identify and track trends in key-non-academic areas of university life experienced by students.  The survey provides us with a detailed analysis of the student experience.

uls-infographic-2016.jpgThe Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey contains information from over 2,000 students from 148 higher education institutions in response to over 40 questions. This infographic provides a concise summary of the key findings.