Friday, 19 September 2008

I hate to say I told you so...

I know I promised that I wouldn't moan or mention Manchester again but I couldn't resist.

As I said in this post I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this years National Student Survey results on the unistats website, particularly the student satisfaction aspect.

Manchester - 30th out of 32 medical schools who provided enough data.

Ouch - that has to hurt. At least now you don't just have to take my word for it. And when I advise potential students to avoid Manchester like the plague - I can provide a bit more evidence than just my experience.

More hospital tales this weekend.....


Anonymous said...

Well, I think your description of your experiences means more than the %age of students who "definitely agreed or mostly agreed with [the] statement 'Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course'".

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, mines pretty low down too - not that I'm particularly surprised by it.

The Manchester Medic said...

Good find.

I think the most telling statistic is that only 77% of Manchester students agree with the statement "Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course." In other words, almost a quarter of students are unsatisfied with their course. That is a lot!

I just hope that the people in charge take note.

Also, why didn't I get one of these surveys to fill out??

The Little Medic said...

Manchester medic - you only get to do it in 5th year. They probably won't encourage people to do it as much in future

brokenangel said...

That’s shocking considering the academics they require means it a uni a lot of people aim for. Oh well that one less to visit next year when looking for grad entry

Anonymous said...

Only final year students get to fill out this survey? That explains why I never got one last year for SGUL.

Will be interesting to see how far SGUL drop down after the exam cock up which saw quarter of the 4th years fail the summer exams and now stuck in limbo whilst waiting for November resits before being allowed to start final year. A lot of these students achieved well over the passmark in the OSCE but failed because they failed too many stations. Acceptable you might think except there was a distinct lack of consistency or accuracy in the marking with examiners missing things "because they are tired". Students have been told to shut up and just accept it as there is nothing the medical school is prepared to do about it despite the number of students airing the same concerns and complaints about the way the exams were run and the lack of discretion exercised by the exam board for the students caught up in it.

I think Manchester may well climb up in the results of the next survey, even if only one place, as SGUL will almost certainly drop from the top to very low down.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your posts with great interest. In the first year at Manchester we had to fill some similar forms like this as well. I'm not surprised that the medical school is rated so lowly. I'm so disappointed and angry at the way the entire medical school and curriculum is organised, at the medical support, and the way they force you to learn by yourself. Like you, I am proud to be a medic, but not proud to be at Manchester. I am planning on transferring universities, probably to Southampton or QMUL because of my disillusionment.

Mayhem said...

Sad part is, med schools are very slow to change. They can survive on prestige and brand name alone for centuries. Why? Supply and demand. People want what they're selling. Even if it the product is not great. Besides at some point, the over-achiever in every med student forces us to compensate for their poor efforts and voila: Good doctors from bad training.

Still, let's hope they take the number seriously this time.

PhD scientist said...

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old fart:

If you don't want to do PBL, don't come to Manchester to do medicine. It's that simple. And if you want trad lecture-based teaching, then go to a University that runs a course of that type - there are several. And if you want to be in a small (less than 150 students in the year) course and known well by a core group of teaching staff (rather than being another face in a 300+ year group, so that you may only know your own tutor) go to one of the new medical schools.

As I used to repeat on the old blog, what we now have in the UK is a mass higher education system, and medical schools are not exempt. In addition, people complain far, far more now that they are paying top-up fees. The teaching hasn't changed - the top up fees were basically "catch-up" for a system that was grossly underfunded - but expectations have.

Questions like "Are you satisfied?" are notoriously unhelpful. Apart from the fact that the dissatisfied are systematically more likely to respond, it is a bit like asking "could it have been better?" - to which the answer is almost always "yes", for just about anything. There is a well-known med school teaching joke about all the surveys that say "As a student would you have liked more teaching on X?". The answer is almost always "yes", no matter what X actually is.

The real questions to ask are "Did the course teach you some useful stuff about science and medicine?" and "Did it prepare you for FY1?" But both these questions should really be asked at the end of FY1 at the earliest, and the first question really wants asking after FY1 and 2.

What in-course surveys really ask is "Were you happy?" - and of course there are many reasons why people are happy / unhappy - like having to commute 40 miles every day, feeling you wish you had done a different type of course, feeling the system is out to screw you over, thinking a lot of your classmates are tossers etc. etc.

Sorry, breakfast kippers must have disagreed with me... but you get the idea.

The Little Medic said...

phd scientist - I agree that this kind of survey isn't particularly useful when it comes to content but you have to consider that the same survey has been done by students at all universities therefore you might not be able to judge the overall sucess of a course by the results but you can compare different institutions.

As for only being completed by people who complain - Manchester harassed every single final year as much as they physically could. In one case ringing someone at home 3 times asking them to complete it. If anything it shot itself in the foot by doing that because people don't enjoy being harassed for things like that.

The Little Medic said...

And with regards to choosing the right course for you - at 17 that is easier said than done. I've said before that I made a mistake when I decided where to apply but I only knew that with hindsight and once you're stuck somewhere it is almost impossible to change. Maybe we should move towards the American way and only offer graduate courses in medicine then you wouldn't have to make that decision at 17.

PhD scientist said...


Fair points all.

For the reasons you suggest, I would guess that 30th out of 32 will be "concentrating minds" in the Manchester Medical Faculty. Of course, the problem is to know how "real" the result is, see my previous comment. The best thing the Medical Faculty could probably do, in my opinion, would be to wait and them do a more detailed follow-up on as much of your graduating class as possible, probably next Spring-Summer. It would cost them some money, but at least that way they could get at what were perceived as the unsatisfactory aspects, how serious they were, and what could be done to address them. But I'm not the Faculty of Medicine...! Wait and see, I guess.

Re. the "finding yourself on the wrong (kind of) course", I do sympathise. You are right that making the decisions at 17 when people apply to medical school is not easy, and the fact that many people only get one offer makes it worse. In some ways it would be better if people could move more easily between institutions part-way through the medical course... but the lack of a common syllabus, curriculum, teaching method etc. makes this difficult. The diversity of the UK medical courses is deemed good in many ways (certainly by the GMC), but it does make "mobility" tricky - although not insurmountably so, see e.g. St Andrews and M'cr. Countries which have common exams (e.g. Germany where the yr 2 and final exams are set at State, though not national, level) do tend to have rather more student movement between different medical schools during the course.

A lot of UK medical teachers would favour graduate medical entry - or maybe just a far larger proportion of entrants to medicine going through graduate courses. It would certainly be expected to reduce the amount of "I picked the wrong course" problems. The objection has tended to be that people would not be fully trained until 3-5 yrs older than at present, plus the increased financial burden, both on them and on the Govt. Personally I would be in favour of much more graduate entry to medicine than at present, although I don't think I would necessarily want it to be exclusively graduate. The Australian system of 5-6 yrs undergrad entry, or 4 yrs graduate entry, with some Univs offering both and some only one or the other system, seems a good compromise. But the Govt. would have to get properly behind it for it to happen en masse, as they are the main paymaster.