First experiences of university life – FAU-St in pictures

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Bild: FAU

The results of the student survey over the last few years – Part 2

This week we are continuing to report back on the results of the FAU-St student survey over the last few years. Today we are focusing on starting out at university. What motivated students to choose FAU, which difficulties did they encounter and what other experiences did they have?

The entire report containing the findings of previous FAU-St surveys is available on the OPUS publication and document server.

FAU-St in pictures over the last four years – Part 2

A total of 885 of the students who started studying in winter semester 2019/2020 or summer semester 2020 took part in the survey, giving an insight into how much information they had when they started studying, their reasons for choosing to study at FAU and any difficulties they may have had when they first started university.

New students in 2020 better informed

Whether study conditions and content, the possibility of studying abroad or planning studies: a trend can be seen emerging over recent years that students are better informed before they start to study. The change between 2018 and 2020 is particularly noticeable, with the proportion of students claiming to feel poorly informed falling in some categories by approximately ten percent points.

Personal reasons for choice of degree programme: An interest in the subject remains the predominant reason, with career prospects gaining significance.

In answer to the question of what motivated students to study at FAU, from 2016 to 2020 more than 90 percent quoted an interest in the subject or the degree programme. More than 50 percent appreciated the vicinity of FAU to family and friends. The number of students who stated that advice from family and friends had motivated them to choose their degree programme remained relatively constant at approximately 30 percent. The number of students who started to study a certain subject due to their personal aptitude in that subject fell from 79.1 percent in 2016 to 70.3 percent in 2020. ‘Good career prospects’ increased by seven percent points.

University-specific reasons: A number of different aspects speak out in favour of FAU

Unlike personal reasons for deciding to study at FAU, there is no specific trend when it comes to university-specific reasons influencing the students’ choice of university. There is more variety in the reasons given. For example, the proportion of students who chose FAU due to the topics covered in their degree programme has stayed relatively constant at just over 50 percent (52.0 percent in 2020). In 2020, 35 percent of those in their first or second semester stated that FAU’s success in rankings and university listings was an important factor for them, an increase of six percent points since 2016.

The significance of specialisations and subject combinations offered at FAU alone has remained roughly the same: moving from 38.8 percent to 35.5 percent. The number of students who enrolled to fill in the time whilst waiting for a place on another degree programme has fallen slightly, coming to just 3.1 percent in 2020.

Difficulties starting out: Finding your ideal studying and working pattern.

A lot of new students seem to have difficulties settling into a productive studying and working pattern. Of all the students who stated that they experienced difficulties when starting out at university, 25.4 percent of them stated that this was a challenge in 2020. That is approximately four percent points more than in 2016. There was also an increase in the number of students who stated that they were lacking necessary prior knowledge, from 9.1 percent (2016) to 13.5 percent (2020).

Others found academic working and cooperating with fellow students a challenge.

First experiences with studying: Students still coping well with workload

Whilst approximately 34.2 percent of students stated that they felt rather lost when first starting out at university, this rose by approximately ten percent points in 2020. Based on the data alone, we cannot say whether this was related to the pandemic, but it seems likely. There was also a slight increase of approximately 2.5 percent points between 2018 and 2020 in the number of students who felt rather overwhelmed by their subject.

In 2020, a fairly high number of students stated that they coped well with the workload (50 percent) and were pleased with the supervision provided by their lecturers (60 percent), but the results from previous years indicate that there are fluctuations in the experiences students have when first starting out at university.

Every year, students at FAU have the opportunity to evaluate their study situation and the services provided by the University during the FAU-St student survey. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, students were also asked to evaluate online teaching during last year’s survey. We will now use the data from 2016 to 2020 to prepare graphics of the results during the next few weeks.

The entire report of previous FAU-St surveys is available on the OPUS publication and document server.