When we first assumed our positions on the UNYT-Insider Editorial Board, we knew that being part of such an office would compel us to report the truth with the utmost responsibility, even if it means challenging the current status quo in our university. We also knew that as we strive to serve our community’s needs and voice our students’ concerns, the time to exercise that responsibility would come sooner rather than later. So, here we are, as we launch our 2nd issue, fulfilling our role as a forum of, by, and for the students of UNYT.
After carefully assessing the feedback of our first edition, we noticed that our audience was interested in reading more articles that bring to spotlight topics regarding the struggles of our students. As such, following the example of many world-renowned colleges, we decided to perform a university-wide student satisfaction survey. Under the supervision and with the help of our esteemed professor Eda Gemi, we compiled an online survey that spanned through all areas of university life: school policy, research opportunities, campus life, and exchange programs. From a random pool of students, we yielded around 100 responses on our online survey.
Question 01: The current exam policy provides students with enough time to study for exams.
Only 9.68% of the students agreed with this statement, reflecting on a large scale the students’ inability to adequately prepare for exams. To demonstrate this, we analyzed the exam policy of Bocconi University, one of the highest performing universities in Europe. At Bocconi, exams span over a month, so that students are given at least 5 days to study for each exam. During this time, there are no classes. Students can focus their effort entirely on preparing for the exams. Gerta Rodha, a sophomore at Bocconi University tells us, “I have no idea how UNYT students are able to manage taking 5 or more exams within a single week with no days off, but I am sure that if the same policy was to be adopted at Bocconi, our university would not be ranked where it usually does.”
Question 02: C- (70%) is a reasonable passing grade.
Students disagree with this statement as well. 64.51% of the respondents believe that the passing grade should be lower. However, when compared to other U.S. style colleges, both in Europe and the United States, 2.0 quality points (or C-) seems to be the standard for course credits to be counted towards a degree. Around 90% of the universities in the United States will not take into consideration courses in which students have earned less than 2.0 quality points and they are required to repeat the course. Earning a degree means mastering a specific discipline in which you graduate and gaining a comprehensive understanding, that goes beyond basic knowledge, of the topics related to that specific discipline. In that sense, a C- is widely regarded as the cutoff between those two levels.
Question 03: General education requirements in our university produce well-rounded students with multi-disciplinary knowledge capable of succeeding in life.
32.26% of the respondents agree with this statement, compared to 22.58% who do not. After we analyzed the core curriculum of numerous U.S. colleges, including the SUNY system of public universities, we found that our curriculum is compliant with the standard requirements and encompasses all areas: Written and Oral Communication, Social Sciences, Humanities, Arts, History, and Mathematics. UNYT students feel confident in their ability to be of value in their communities, regardless of their future jobs or professions.
Question 04: There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in academic research at our university.
Only 22.58% of the respondents agree with this statement. As part of the community ourselves, we can testify to the lack of research opportunities in our school. A considerable number of students, 64,51%, are interested to get involved with research. However, practices that are common in academia, such as recruiting students to assist in their professors’ academic research or in research funded by the EU Research Programme, are rarely, if not at all, applied in our university. UNYT students are lucky enough to be taught by some of the most celebrated professors, who have published papers in prestigious journals all over the world. Student participation in research is beneficial not only for them but also for the professors conducting the research. By delegating tasks that are within the intellectual reach of the students, such as conducting field interviews, collecting data, and preparing reports, students gain invaluable experience, while professors are relieved of time-consuming, but nonetheless essential components of research.
Question 05: Our university has a vibrant campus life.
On a scale from 1 to 5, 72% of the respondents replied 1 and 2, which means that the majority believes that campus life at our university is not as thrilling as promised. We analyzed similar surveys from other universities around the world and found out that one of the most positive sets of results came from Queen Mary University in London. Students there enjoy various possibilities that keep the campus busy at all times: more than 100 clubs, sororities/fraternities, gatherings, shows, parties, fairs, and much more.
Question 06: There are plenty of well-planned cultural and extracurricular activities, such as workshops and student roundtables.
82.76% of the respondents do not agree with this sentiment. A UNYT alumni and now student at Queen Mary, Ani Ahmetbeja, said conferences and events at her university are organized in advance in accordance with students’ schedules. Events related to successful alumni that share their experience are usually the most valuable for her, as students can profit from networking and make new connections.
Question 07: Student clubs are active, well-planned, and I know how to join them.
More than 75% of the respondents do not agree with this statement. This points to a significant lack of outreach from student clubs. As we have previously mentioned, most of the clubs that have had a great impact on campus life in the previous years are not up-and-running anymore. With only 5 up-and-running clubs in our university, a new approach is necessary.
Question 08: Student government pays close attention to students’ concerns and voices them appropriately.
From a scale of 1 to 5, only 3% of the respondents assessed Student Government with a satisfactory grade. Student Government must be able to implement strategies that will bring them closer to our community and gain their trust as the lead advocate of students’ concerns.
Question 09: I have sufficient information about exchange opportunities that are currently available.
Once again, students appear to be confused about exchange programs, as a majority of 28% of the respondents were neutral; they are not completely uninformed, but they also do not have full clarity about the requirements and application process. To avoid this, universities in the United States, hold private student-advisor meetings with whom they have the chance of discussing these opportunities to decide which one suits them best.
Question 10: It is only reasonable that the students participating in exchange programs pay tuition fees of their home university.
33% of the respondents agree with this sentiment and another 30% strongly agree. Most of the universities offer this option, as tuition fees for international students in other countries increase greatly, especially compared to those in Albania. For example, we have much lower tuition fees in comparison to the Netherlands, where costs for students from non-EU countries vary from 9000€ and above. In most cases, our university follows this policy. However, on the last exchange call for the UNYP exchange program, it was announced that students will be paying the tuition fee of the guest university.
Question 11: There is need for improvement in the overall infrastructure of our university.
80% of the respondents agree with this statement. Concerns such as class equipment, parking space, and computer lab maintenance are of primary concern according to our student community.
Question 12: Classrooms are well-equipped, and they facilitate the learning process.
52% of the respondents believe there is need for improvements, such as Wi-Fi access and more remote controls for the projectors. Students seem to be less satisfied with computer labs, as only 20% of the respondents believe they are well-maintained and accommodate the needs of our students.
Question 13: Our university does a good job at updating grades and absences on the Egnomon platform.
Similarly, 20% agree with this statement. According to our community, exam and project grades of the Fall semester are yet to be updated in the Egnomon platform. It is important for students to have a good sense of their academic standing.
Conducted by Sindi Pepa, Kejsi Beqiraj, and Xhulia Xhaferi.