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Spotlight on the study environment

When the study environment survey kicks off this week, once again, all students will have the opportunity to express their opinion about the study environment at Aarhus University. Lecturers and members of staff who are in contact with students are encouraged to draw the students’ attention to this survey.

Well-being, feedback, contact with lecturers, stress, loneliness and harassment... A wide range of topics are covered by the study environment survey, the aim of which is to ensure a good study and learning environment at Aarhus University. The survey will be distributed to all students in week 43.

As a new initiative, this year, the AU study environment survey will form part of the national survey carried out by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. Among other things, this means that students only have to fill in one questionnaire, whereas previously, they were asked to respond to several different questionnaires, often with overlapping content.

According to Pro-rector for Education Berit Eika, the new combined questionnaire offers a number of advantages, both for students and for the university:

"By using one single questionnaire, we’re able to reduce the number of questionnaires, and the students have strongly requested this. They have also provided input on topics and questions. The decision to integrate AU’s study environment survey into the ministry's questionnaire is based on a thorough process, in which our focus has been on ensuring that AU will uncover the same aspects of the study environment as previously," says Berit Eika, and she continues:

"Another important argument in support of the new questionnaire is that it allows us to use the results more efficiently in our work to assure the quality of our degree programmes, because we only get data from one overall survey."

A high response rate is important

The more students who participate in the survey, the more accurate and useful the results, stresses Berit Eika. Therefore, she hopes that all lecturers and other staff with student contact will encourage students to respond to the survey:

"The study environment survey is an important tool in our work to ensure the best possible study and learning environment for our students. The results form part of our ongoing quality-assurance processes and are used as a basis for local action plans at individual faculties and degree programmes. The higher the response rate, the more targeted our use of the results will be in our continued work."

However, Berit Eika acknowledges that the survey comes at a time when the study environment is quite unusual.

"Even though student life is different right now due to COVID-19, and even though it may be more difficult for students to answer the questions when they spend less time on campus, it’s still just as important for students to express their opinions – even under these special circumstances. The results will help us launch the right initiatives in the future."

Results are used actively

Since 2007, Aarhus University has conducted a study environment survey every third year – most recently in 2017 when approx. 15,000 students participated. The results showed a generally high level of satisfaction among students, but also that more students felt stressed and needed more feedback.

Subsequently, the university has launched a number of initiatives to address the challenges identified by the survey. For example, through the EDU IT initiative, AU puts focus on improving students' opportunities for receiving feedback in teaching, and in collaboration with the student organisations, AU has developed initiatives to prevent stress among students. Furthermore, AU has started the “Zero tolerance campaign, and the study environment is high on the agenda in relation to the physical development of campuses.

Additionally, a number of educational initiatives have been launched at the faculties and on individual degree programmes. 

About the study environment survey 

  • This year, the study environment survey forms part of the national survey carried out by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and will be conducted by Epinion.
  • The student organisations have been involved in the process of developing the new questionnaire. The survey asks about harassment, which was a specific request from the student organisations.
  • The electronic questionnaire will be distributed to students via e-Boks and AU email at the beginning of week 43. The deadline for responses is 15 December.
  • At Aarhus University, the study environment was surveyed in 2007, 2011 (in Danish only), 2014 and 2017.
  • The study environment survey is anchored in the Committee on Education.
  • The results are expected to be published in the spring of 2021. Based on the results, action plans will be drawn up for the individual degree programmes.
  • The results will also be included in the ministry's work on:
    • The Learning Questionnaire (which uncovers students’ experiences of the learning environment on their degree programmes and their own approaches to learning)
    • Uddannelseszoom (degree programme zoom, an online tool to compare degree programmes)
    • Well-being (under the ministry’s office for well-being (Trivselskontor))
    • Teaching environment (under the Danish Centre of Educational Environment).

Find additional information at the study environment website https://studerende.au.dk/en/study-environment-survey/ (which will be updated on a regular basis).