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Evaluating studying conditions

FAU student survey

The student survey has an important role to play in teaching and studying and has been conducted once a year at a central level at FAU since 2011. It provides a detailed overview of students’ opinions, what they think about studying conditions at FAU in general and how they view their own personal situation. If enough responses are received, analyses can be drawn up for individual degree programmes. We now have data available from a total of seven surveys (2012 to 2018).

Revision and restructuring of survey

The central student survey was first conducted across the various faculties and subjects in December 2011. The objective was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of courses offered and initiate specific measures aimed at improving teaching if necessary. The survey was fundamentally revised in the summer of 2015 due to increasingly low participation and a high number of participants not completing the survey. It was renamed from ‘FAU Panel’ to ‘FAU St’ and more detailed questions regarding specific groups of students and study situations were developed within newly defined survey focus areas. The questions target specific groups which are asked to answer questions designed to reflect their individual study situation. A difference is made, for example, between ‘new students’, ‘students who will graduate soon’ and ‘current students’. These groups may change or become more specific over time, reflecting changes in the topics covered by the survey each year.

Key areas requiring action were also derived from the results of the survey FAU St 2016. However, when analysing and processing these areas it became clear that there was not sufficient detail given about the background to and causes of certain situations described by students to develop an approach for tackling the issues in question. For this reason, FAU-St 2017 focused on areas requiring action identified in previous surveys. This led to a general survey alternating with a specific survey, a cycle which will continue in future. This means that in the first year students will be asked to respond to a comprehensive survey on various aspects of studying at FAU in general, and in the following year, a specific survey will be developed which is orientated toward specific needs and issues identified in the previous year’s survey.

Survey content

The survey collects information which gives an impression of the studying conditions at FAU in general. ‘FAU St’ supplements the evaluations of individual degree programmes, lectures and seminars, and study progress based on administrative data. The student survey provides an opportunity to find out about topics such as the level of satisfaction, study situations, initial experiences at FAU, motivation and reasons, expectations, evaluations of infrastructure and service centres at FAU, promoted areas, prospects and career entry and additional issues relating to the areas found to be requiring action, as well as problems and difficulties which may be encountered at FAU. As each of the groups of students receive different questions on these topics, there is not only an improvement in the information available for assessing degree programmes and the general conditions for studying at FAU, the information also refers specifically to individual groups. This allows improvements to be made to teaching and studying at several different levels.

The survey findings are an opportunity for decision-makers at FAU to use the empirical evidence as a basis to make contact with students and discuss specific situations in individual degree programmes and to initiate processes of change.

Publication and perspectives

Since 2016, the results of the survey have been published on OPUS FAU, the University’s online publication system, under the heading ‘Studienbefragung’. The results from 2012 to 2016 are available on OPUS FAU in the FAU Panel publication series.

The results of the student survey are presented and discussed in various committees at faculty and University level, as well as in the Student Council.

The next FAU student survey focusing on successful studying and a number of other topics will be held in the summer semester 2019.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the FAU student survey, please contact: evaluation@fau.de