Student barometer will peg opinion

15 May 2006

UCT is participating in the International Student Barometer, a web-based survey that will map student perceptions of the institution, taking in almost every facet of student life.

Deputy vice-chancellor responsible for student affairs, Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, said the survey was a chance for students to "tell us, anonymously and privately, what is working for you and what is not".

The survey began on May 8 and ends on May 19. The preliminary results will be available on June 7.

It is part of a broader, ongoing study that is independently administered for UCT by the International Graduate Insight Group (

All those who complete the questionnaire stand a chance of winning an iPod (4 Gig Nano) or a R500 music voucher (or they can donate their prizes to a charity of their choice).

Initially designed to canvass opinion among foreign students at institutions around the globe, at UCT the survey has been extended to include all students.

Rayner Canning, finance and administration manager in the International Programmes Office (IAPO), who initiated the project, said UCT was among the first local institutions to join the survey. The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has also signed up.

"The information will tell us why students go to one university and not another," Canning explained. "It will help us benchmark ourselves against international institutions - and others in our back yard - providing valuable information on learning, living and support services at UCT."

The survey is comprehensive, covering every aspect of the student experience; the quality of the pre-arrival information, orientation and even the signage on campus, perhaps trite-sounding, but important when you're an international student.

UCT will use the information to "drill down", extracting more pertinent sentiments that will tell us how we are shaping up in various facets. The information will also tell the university how specific international communities of students feel about aspects of life and study at UCT.

"For example, the survey might tell us Zimbabwean students are concerned about safety on campus. We can then compare that with what American students think about security."

For IAPO, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the survey will provide timely information on international student perceptions.

"We've never had an encompassing survey of international students," Canning said. "This is another reflective point, a good way of getting feedback from students."

They're hoping to get a big enough sample to make the information meaningful.

Among a host of international participants are names like Cardiff University; King's College, London; the University of London; Cambridge and the University of Cincinnati.

"We'll be able to benchmark key areas of delivery with a view to improving service delivery and delivering professional student development services," Caning said.

In the end it comes down to one question, he believes: Will the student recommend UCT to others? ht The international survey will help benchmark UCT's status among students, local and foreign.

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