Student satisfaction suffering from ‘COVID age’: down 4% globally

Still student satisfaction remains at a high overall level of 4.06 out of 5. Student satisfaction with their online classroom experience (3.60) has been not at par with traditional learning, but there are exceptions. Students are generally satisfied with how universities have managed the COVID crisis (4.15).  

Eindhoven, Netherlands, 15 October 2021- Studyportals, in partnership with British Council, Unibuddy, Unesco, Times Higher Education, and many more, publishes student satisfaction biannually. This edition is based on 108,000 student reviews across 4,000 universities, with over 400 universities with enough reviews for a representative score. In the award ceremony last night, eight global winners for different aspects of student experience were recognised.  

Studyportals Student Satisfaction Report is based on the largest data set on student satisfaction in the world, and the only one that is internationally comparable.  

The report represents an in-depth analysis of student experience, what they are content with, and where they would like to see improvements.                        

The awards ceremony included Keynote addresses by Dr Fransec Pedro, Director of UNESCO’s International Institute for Higher Education who spoke about reimagining international student mobility. Prof dr Jan Peter Balkenende, Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands spoke about how University presidents can mobilise behind the Sustainable development goals.  

Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg won the Overall best university category.  

KLU President Professor Thomas Strothotte says, “My ambition is to always have an open ear for the ideas, wishes and concerns of our students. Very concretely, I am inviting all student representatives to quarterly meetings with me. On this basis, we have already been able to implement many excellent ideas for the further development of our studies as well as campus life and culture.”  

One KLU student review said, “I really like how professors care about students learning, how you always get a personal treatment and that we can reach them all the time for concerns or to get further advice.” 

Another KLU student wrote: “KLU is like a family that pushes you to succeed! It is an extremely unique place. I believe there is no other university with such diverse students who all manage to learn from and motivate each other.” 

Edwin van Rest, CEO of Studyportals says “Global students have shared their experience, and this is the chance for the industry to celebrate as well as to listen and learn.” 

Read the report here: GSSA 2021 Report Download (
(If you would like to publish the report in your news publication, please use the link above). 

For more information, or to arrange interviews:  
Contact Studyportals - Cara Skikne | | +31 684847508  

About Studyportals     
Studyportals is the global study choice platform. We help students find and compare all their education options globally and make an informed choice. We help institutions to optimise their classroom from a quantity, quality and diversity perspective, on the basis of results. Over 50 million students annually from 220 countries and territories worldwide choose between 207,000+ programmes from over 3,700 universities in 117 countries, which allows us to help our clients with best practice from all over the world. Its mission is to empower the world to choose education.   

About the Global Student Satisfaction awards  
The Global Student Satisfaction awards are the only student-powered global university overview capturing feedback on life inside and outside the classroom. The Awards empower students to share their views, to create recognition for the best universities in the world, from the perspective of students. 

The Global Student Satisfaction awards are Powered by British Council IELTS and Unibuddy. Supporting partners include UNESCO and ASML. For more information visit 


Spain ranked top in students’ satisfaction

This article was originally published by The PIE.

Spanish universities have been rated top in the world for international students’ satisfaction rates, a survey of 108,000 students worldwide has indicated.

According to the 2021 Studyportals Student Satisfaction Report, Austria, Estonia, Hungary and Italy rounded out the top five countries.

While student experience ratings remain high globally, Studyportals noted that the average student satisfaction score was down 3.56% in comparison to 2019.

The UK was ranked top English-speaking study destination at position seven (behind Czech Republic at six).

The other ‘big four’ English-speaking destination included Australia at 10, the US at 15 and Canada at 21.

In the 108,000 reviews written by students, study experiences are rated from one to five by assessing their satisfaction in: overall satisfaction, student-teacher interactions, admission process, student diversity, quality of student life, and career development.

Two categories were also added for the first time: online classroom experience, and Covid-19 crisis management.

The overall average score is 4.1 out of five – very high satisfaction,” said Edwin van Rest, CEO and founder of Studyportals. “This is a great compliment to the international education industry.”

Students from over 200 different nationalities review higher education institutions in 121 countries, with top institutions recognised in the Global Student Satisfaction Awards – “more than an awards ceremony”, van Rest added.

“It’s a movement to put students at the heart of the higher education sector. Like all good social movements, this one is disrupting the status quo. It’s a step-change – and a long overdue one that is putting student experience at the centre of what universities are about.”

“These awards are particularly important to me because they’re based on student evaluations”

The reviews also help prospective students better understand their study choices and make education more transparent, Studyportals suggested.

Eight categories also identified highest ranked institutions, with Kühne Logistics University from Germany crowned winner for Overall Satisfaction. Fellow German institution University of Bonn was ranked first for Admission Process.

“These awards are particularly important to me because they’re based on student evaluations,” said Kühne Logistics University president Thomas Strothotte. “This fits perfectly with our ambition to always have an open ear for the ideas, wishes and concerns of our students.”

Swiss institutions, Università della Svizzera italiana and Geneva Business School were awarded top for Student – Teacher Interaction and Career Development, respectively.

Austria’s University of Klagenfurt was first for Covid-19 Crisis Management.

In the UK, European School of Economics was recognised for Quality of Student Life, University of Sussex Student Diversity and University of Essex Online for Online Classroom Experience.

For Sussex, the award is “a ringing endorsement of the university’s status as a leading global player in internationalisation and diversity”, said Richard Follett, deputy pro vice chancellor and associate vice president (International).

“It is reflective of a Sussex community that believes passionately in maximising the experiences of and opportunities for all our staff and students and in having a truly international perspective,” he said.

Studyportals has been looking actively at student satisfaction for the past eight years, Carmen Neghina, education intelligence specialist at the company highlighted.

“We know that students are overall happy with their study experience,” she said.

But compared to 2019 findings, as well as overall satisfaction being lower students were also less satisfied by their experience of career development, unlike student-teacher interactions, admission process, student diversity and quality of student life which were all rated higher.

“Maybe it does not come as a surprising, but this year student satisfaction has been slightly decreasing,” Neghina added. “But it has also been a tremendously challenging year for higher education as a whole, for students who have had to study at home, for universities which have had to close their campuses.”


Global Student Satisfaction Awards category nominees announced

Eindhoven, Netherlands, 30 September 2021 – We are proud to announce the category nominees for each region of the Global Student Satisfaction Awards.   The Global Student Satisfaction Awards is the only global university recognition programme from the student perspective.   

This edition is powered by over 108,000 student reviews about their experiences inside and outside the classroom.  4,000 universities were reviewed, over 444 qualify for the awards.  

The awards, delivered in collaboration with British Council IELTS and Unibuddy are informed solely by student experience and feedback. Supporting partners for the awards also include UNESCO, ASML, and the Good fellow foundation, with media partners Times Higher Education and The PIE news   

 Edwin van Rest, CEO and founder of Studyportals says, “The overall average score is 4.1 out of five – very high satisfaction. This is a great compliment to the international education industry. The Global Student Satisfaction Awards is more than an awards ceremony – it’s a movement to put students at the heart of the higher education sector.” 

The global winners of each category will be announced at an action-packed award ceremony on October 14th.  

As well as the winner announcements there will be incredible keynote speeches on the future of education -. from Dr Fransesc Pedro from UNESCO, and from a former prime minister of the Netherlands Dr Prof Jan Peter Balkenende as well as key insights for the industry from the Global Student Satisfaction report. 

There are regional winners recognised across eight student experience categories. This year, for the first time, these include new categories – for Covid-19 crisis management and online learning.  These awards are truly global, and we have regional nominees from each of three regions – the Americas; EMEA, this is Europe in combination with the UK, the Middle East and Africa; and Asia Pacific. It is an honor to recognize the huge impact they are making on the lives of students.     

The quality of student life award rates the quality of students’ everyday life outside of the classroom – especially when thinking about the city students live in. Regional winners are: 

  • From the Americas: San Diego State University, U.S.A. based in Sunny California  
  • From Asia Pacific: Nanyang Technological University, in the heart of bustling Singapore  
  • From EMEA: European School of Economics with locations in London, Madrid, Rome, Milan and Florence 

 Admission process award goes to the university with the best and most supportive admissions process, as judged by students. Regional winners are:  

  • From the Americas:  Dalhousie University, Canada 
  • From Asia Pacific: Monash University, Australia 
  • From EMEA: University of Bonn, Germany 

For the student diversity award, students were asked how friendly the atmosphere at their university was for people from diverse backgrounds. Regional winners are: 

  • From the Americas: Northeastern University, US 
  • From Asia Pacific: The University of Queensland, Australia 
  • From the EMEA: University of Sussex, UK 

The student-teacher interaction award is a particularly special award for educators. Regional winners are:  

  • From the Americas: Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada 
  • From Asia Pacific: Edith Cowan University, Australia 
  • From EMEA: Università della Svizzera italiana , Switzerland 

The first of our new categories for 2021 –  

The Online classroom experience award was so relevant to learning over the past months. Online learning is about more than software and no one knows that better than the regional winners for this award: 

  • From the Americas: Toronto School of Management, Canada,  
  • From Asia Pacific: La Trobe University, Australia 
  • From EMEA: University of Essex, Online, UK 

The 2nd of our new award categories is for Covid-19 crisis management. It speaks to the way crisis management had an effect not only on the bigger picture, but on the individual lives of students who were lucky enough to see their universities as part of their support systems. The regional winners are: 

  • From the Americas (and across multiple campus locations): Hult International Business School  
  • From Asia Pacific: De La Salle University, Philippines 
  • From EMEA: University of Klagenfurt, Austria 

The Career development award goes to the university that best supports students in their professional development and gives them the skills they need for the workplace. The regional winners are: 

  • From the Americas: University of California, Berkeley, US 
  • From Asia Pacific: The University of Sydney, Australia 
  • From EMEA: Geneva Business School, Switzerland 

The Overall Satisfaction award is the category where students submitted the most reviews. The global award goes to the university where students have had the best overall experience.  

The regional nominees are:  

  • From the Americas: Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico 
  • From APAC: Macquarie University, Australia 
  • From EMEA: Kühne Logistics University, Germany 

You can find out more information on the Global Student Satisfaction Awards here and register here. The full 2019 Global Student Satisfaction Report can be found here 

For more information or to organise interviews please contact:  

Cara Skikne: +31 684847508 


University rankings must rate wellbeing provision to stay relevant

This article was previously published on The Pie News.

Isolation and mental health issues are not new concerns for students, but the pandemic has brought them into sharp focus.

So why are so many university rankings continuing to only focus on academic excellence? There is an obvious, unassailable link between wellbeing and academic success.

If league tables are to have continued relevance and enable informed decision making, they need to investigate performance across the whole student experience. And they must consult the right people – students.

The student voice is the only perspective that matters in the Studyportals’ Global Student Satisfaction Awards, where students give feedback on pastoral support along with other non-academic
issues, which this year will include COVID crisis management and online learning.


Another recent Studyportals survey asked students how they want wellbeing support to be delivered. More than 75% of respondents preferred one-to-one support, signalling that universities will need a much higher level of resources.

During the pandemic almost 50% of students said that they hadn’t sought any help at all. This worrying statistic is in line with others that revealed a drop in support-seeking across the whole population, at a time when we’ve needed it the most.


So how can support transform to reach greater numbers? Ainslie Moore, Deputy Director of International Programmes and Partnerships at the University of Auckland – the Global Student Satisfaction Awards winner in the Diversity category in 2019 – found their existing Studybuddy programme invaluable.

She told us: “It’s an easy way for students to talk through everyday things, especially for international students, who pair up with a bilingual buddy. It serves as a low-key way to explore issues related to mental health once they feel comfortable, then we can layer in further support as needed.”

To connect with students who aren’t used to seeking help, universities need to circumvent a variety of reasons causing resistance.

Moore explains: “By labelling support as ‘health and wellbeing’ and constantly communicating availability, we were able to reach more students.

“They’re encouraged to assess wellbeing with activities such as yoga and meditation, allowing them to take responsibility for their own self-care without any stigma. From there, it’s easier to ask for further help if they need it.”

How far are most universities from the ideal package of support?

Emily Shead has a unique three-way perspective on wellbeing provision afforded by student life, as a PR agency employee and as a founder of non-profit organisation, Academus.

“One of the biggest issues that university students face right now is the disconnect between themselves and their universities. Whilst universities outwardly project a duty of care, this often falls short of the mark,” she says.

“University wellbeing programmes are decentralised, disorganised and often ineffective. In short, they’re not fit for purpose and insufficient to protect students.”

Shead believes that for this situation to improve, universities need to start investing in large-scale welfare teams that can provide support to the entire student body.

At present, many personal tutors are given basic pastoral training, leaving them unequipped to deal with the full spectrum of issues.

“Support must be well-strategised rather than merged under the umbrella of ‘welfare services’,” Shead continues.

“If universities are clearly advertising the services they offer to students, they can bid for funding to provide the best care possible.”

Universities must work towards centralised support systems combined with innovative practices.

Then, it becomes easier to see how the education sector can build a safety net that contributes to the maintenance of good mental health throughout an individual’s lifetime.

Living in unprecedented, uncertain times it must be flexible, comprehensive support that can withstand anything the world throws at it.


There’s still time for universities to gather student feedback for this year’s Global Student Satisfaction Awards. Check this page for more information and ready-to-share social media posts. The closing date for reviews is 31 August 2021.