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MSU Survey of Student Opinion Report 2018

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1. Introduction & Objective

This report represents results from fieldwork of the Maynooth Students’ Union (MSU) Annual Survey of Student Opinion.  2018 saw the first implementation of a revised and structured survey instrument. This followed previous inconsistent and ad-hoc data collection. Over 700 students from across the population participated in this survey, contributing to a valuable data set on how students engage with their Students’ Union, their University and with their studies and welfare.

Student opinion is at the heart of MSU’s work planning and enhancement processes, and is integral to informing how the Union can improve the quality of everything they do. Student surveys form a robust statistical evidence base for making decisions on how to best prioritise resources to have the most positive impact on the student body

The survey of annual opinion, in this context, explores the understanding of the Union and its activities, and, also, examines the societal and personal factors that impact on the student experience. The results of the survey are intended to add value at institutional level, and to inform Students’ Union activities.

2. Methodology

This survey collected complete and viable data from 733 Maynooth students across all faculty and year levels. The sample size of 733 out of a population of 11689 gives a maximum margin of error of 3.5% with a confidence level of 95%. Students were invited to participate in the survey primarily through an email sent out to all students by Maynooth University and secondly via social media invitation. Data collection took place from May 11, 2018, to June 01, 2018.

3. HEADLINE FINDINGS PER SECTION

Section One: About your Students’ Union. The aim of this first section is to find out some information about the student themselves and their level of awareness/engagement with SU structures.

  • 68% of students aware they became members of the SU upon registration.
  • 60% cite online methods as their preferred method of contacting the SU.
  • Facebook is the most accessed MSU social media channel (78%) followed by Snapchat (49%) and Twitter (20%).
  • 62% have voted in an SU election.
  • 65% aware that SU policy is formed at MSU Senate, a body comprised entirely of elected students.
  • 50% aware of who their Academic REP is.
  • 16% aware of who their Faculty Convenor is.
  • 58% of students do not feel they make full use of the SU supports available to them (info service, peer support, clubs and socs etc.).
  • 79% of students agree that the SU is concerned with their well being.
  • 87% of student feel welcome in the SU building.

Section Two: About your Education. This second section explores the student experience in an academic setting.

  • 59% of students unaware of the existance of the Maynooth University Student Charter.
  • 77% aware of the Maynooth University Examination Regulations and Proceedures document.
  • 65% aware that the SU provides information and advice in the area of exams and assessments.
  • 72% aware that SU elected officers represent students at various academic committee levels within the University.
  • 78% believe it is important for the SU to provide information and advice in the area of exams and assessments.
  • 99% of students believe it is important that students have the opportunity to provide feedback on the quality of their course.
  • 73% agree that their studies are adequately preparing them for work life after college.
  • 28% of student often have the feeling they don't belong on their course.

Section Three: About your Welfare. This section explores welfare issues and students financial and residential situations.

  • 55% of students cite Financial Challenges as impacting negatively on their college experience.
  • Mental Health Problems (45%) and Employment Problems (32%) complete the top 3 negative impact areas.
  • 82% aware that the SU provides information and advice on Your Health and Well Being.
  • 40% aware that the SU provides information and advice on Employment Rights.
  • 42% of students are currently renting.
  • 35% cite thet their living situation is a source of Financial Distress.
  • Typically, less that 40% of student are aware of the various financial supports available within the University (SAF etc.).
  • 57% cite Family Contributions as a source of financial support- thae same as employment.
  • 10% cite Loans or Credit Cards as a source of financial support.
  • 91% believe it is important for the SU to provide information and advice in the area of student welfare.
  • 33% of students believe they make the best use of the student service supports available to them (counselling, careers, disability etc.).
  • 83% agree that they are enjoying their college experience.
  • 23% of students often have the feeling that they don't belong in Maynooth University.

Section Four: About your Activities & Service Usage. This section sources information about students usage of SU services as well as their activity outside of their education.

  • 55% of students have accessed the SU Info Centre for Travelcard services.
  • 25% of students have accessed the SU Info Centre for General Advice or Information.
  • 68% satisfied with the Service Offering of the SU Info Centre.
  • 96% of students have accessed the SU Shop (Londis JH).
  • 54% satisfied with the Value For Money of the SU Shop (Londis JH).
  • 89% of students have accessed the SU Bar.
  • 82% satisfied with the Value For Money of the SU Bar.
  • 67% satisfied with the Entertainment provided by the SU.
  • 56% are a member of at least 1 MU Society.
  • 35% are a member of at least 1 MU Club.
  • Of the students not involved in any MU Clubs or Societies 47% cite College Workload as a reason, Commuting (46%) and Lack of Interest (27%) make up the Top 3 reasons.
  • 57% of students are dissatisfied with the Recreational Space available on campus.
  • 67% are satisfied with the University Academic Facilities.
  • 35% satisfied with the Gym/Sporting Facilities.

Section Five: About Union Priorities. The aim of this final section is to find out what students consider important areas for the SU to focus on.

  • 40% cited Lobbying for Improved University Facilities as the Top Priority for the SU.
  • 25% cited Lobbying for A Better Deal from Government.
  • 13% cited Improvement of Academic Standards.
  • 54% of students rate the SU as being an effective, or very effective, organisation for enhancing the lives of students.
  • A further 31% rate the SU as Sometimes Effective with 8% (Not Very Effective) and 5% (Has No Effect).

4. RECOMMENDATIONS

This report now outlines a number of recommendations that could go some way to improving the Maynooth student experience while furthering the aims of the Union. These recommendations are not necessarily intended to serve as standalone action items, but rather feed into the yearly work planning as mandates, budgets and resources allow.

Increased promotion of Union Structure and Roles
While students feel positive about the Union in general, many do not understand the various parts and personnel of the Union. How the Union goes about its business, from Officers and Executive through to Senate and Elections should be consistently promoted in a clear fashion.

Promotion of opportunities to get involved
Many students indicate that they would like to get more involved with extracurricular activities on campus and with the Union itself. Showcasing the opportunities that exist and outlining the time needed to effectively take part may lead to greater uptake.

Student-Led Social
The majority of students indicate that they wish to communicate and receive communications from the SU in an online environment. As the representative voice of the student population the SU should support and embolden the elected officers to be the voice of the SU in these channels.

Focus on the accessibility of academic documents
Students are positive about their academic experience but awareness of key resources, such as the Student Charter, is poor. These documents can be of great benefit to a student when they are in need of advice or assistance and need to be explained and publicised.

Address the cohort of students who feel like they don’t belong
Close to a quarter of the student population fell that they don’t belong on their course or in Maynooth. While we can’t be certain of the exact reasons for this, the SU should explore what services/campaigns it could offer to try to reach this demographic.

Prioritise Health and Finance information
Currently, health and finance issues dominate the student experience with recognition of University financial supports very low. While SU campaigns always strive to cover as many areas as possible during the year, particular focus should be given to consistent promotion of financial and health information.

Explore the work/life balance of students
Many students are working in excess of 10/15 hours per week on top of their studies. College workload and work commitments are reported as a barrier towards further involvement. The SU should explore what supports/opportunities can be offered to students in this position.

The SU Shop as a gateway to the Union
The SU Shop is frequented by almost all students- the SU should explore options for promoting the other core Union services through the shop environment. Similar could also be explored for the SU Bar, while the SU Info Centre should further advertise its commercial services as a reason to visit.

Prioritise facilities improvement with University authorities
A clear priority for students is for the SU to work towards improving University facilities, in particular recreational spaces. The SU should be up front in how it is going to go about this and report back to the student population with regular status updates.

Seek opinion and feedback
While this survey has been a great source of data concerning the student experience, it should not stop here. The SU should investigate mechanisms to seek student feedback and opinion throughout the year, using digital and face-to-face methods.

5. CONTACT

Should you wish to contact an elected officer to speak to in relation to this survey, or have any questions in general, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
If referencing any part of this report please cite 'Maynooth Students' Union Student Opinion Report 2018' and provide a link to this webpage.

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