Higher Education Policy

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 227–248 | Cite as

Is There a ‘Magic Link’ Between Research Activity, Professional Teaching Qualifications and Student Satisfaction?

  • Adrian R. Bell
  • Chris BrooksEmail author
Original Article


The increasing prominence given to student satisfaction at UK Universities as a response to the introduction of fees and the growing stature of league tables has led to a desire to understand the factors that affect the quality of the student experience. Therefore, this paper examines whether students who study at universities in the UK where research is highly rated or where a high proportion of faculty are professionally qualified are more satisfied, measuring satisfaction through data from the National Student Survey. Our key results are first that students are happiest at pre-1992 universities outside the Russell group and where the amount of top-rated research is lower. Second, we uncover no link between student contentment and the percentage of faculty holding formal teaching qualifications. Our findings have important implications for university policies regarding the link between research and teaching and for the current drive to ‘professionalise’ teaching in higher education.


national student survey student satisfaction professional teaching qualifications teaching quality 


  1. Alves, H. and Raposo, M. (2010) ‘The influence of university image on student behaviour’, International Journal of Education Management 24(1): 73–85.Google Scholar
  2. Atwood, R. (2010) ‘A teaching qualification for all as new academy broom sweeps in’, Times Higher Education. 1 July edition.Google Scholar
  3. Bell, A.R. and Brooks, C. (2017) ‘What makes students satisfied? A discussion and analysis of the UK’s national student survey’, Journal of Further and Higher Education (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  4. Boffey, D. (2012) ‘“Lecturers should need a teaching qualification”, says NUS president’, The Guardian, 22 April. Retrieved from
  5. Borden, V.M. (1995) ‘Segmenting student markets with student satisfaction and priorities survey’, Research in Higher Education 36(1): 73–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Broadbent, J. (2010) ‘The UK research assessment exercise: performance measurement and resource allocation’, Australian Accounting Review 20(1): 14–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, R.M. and Mazzarol, T.W. (2009) ‘The importance of institutional image to student satisfaction and loyalty within higher education’, Higher Education 58(1): 81–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buckley, A., Soilemetzidis, I. and Hillman, N. (2015) The 2015 Student Academic Experience Survey, Working Paper, Oxford: Higher Education Policy Institute and Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  9. Cheng, J.H.S. and Marsh, H.W. (2010) ‘National student survey: Are differences between universities and courses reliable and meaningful?’ Oxford Review of Education 36(6): 693–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fielding, A., Dunleavy, P.J. and Langan, M. (2010) ‘Interpreting context to the UK’s national student (satisfaction) survey data for science subjects’, Journal of Further and Higher Education 34 (3): 347–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gibbons, S., Neumayer, E. and Perkins, R. (2015) ‘Student satisfaction, league tables and university applications: evidence from Britain’, Economics of Education Review 48: 148–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gibbs, G. and Coffey, M. (2004) ‘The impact of training of university teachers on their teaching skills, their approach to teaching and the approach to learning of their students’, Active Learning in Higher Education 5(1): 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hattie, J. and Marsh, H.W. (1996) ‘The relationship between research and teaching: A meta-analysis’, Review of Educational Research 66(4): 507–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hewson, P. (2011) ‘Preliminary analysis of the national student survey’, MSOR Communications 11(1): 25–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kinchin, I.M. and Hay, D.B. (2007) ‘The myth of the research‐led teacher’, Teachers and Teaching 13(1): 43–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Langan, A.M., Dunleavy, P. and Fielding, A. (2013) ‘Applying models to national surveys of undergraduate science students: What affects ratings of satisfaction?’, Education Sciences 3(2): 193–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Layton, C. and Brown, C. (2011) ‘Striking a balance: supporting teaching excellence award applications’, International Journal for Academic Development 16(2): 163–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lenton, P. (2015) ‘Determining student satisfaction: an economic analysis of the national student survey’, Economics of Education Review 47: 118–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Letcher, D.W. and Neves, J.S. (2010) ‘Determinants of undergraduate business student satisfaction’, Research in Higher Education Journal 6: 1–26.Google Scholar
  20. Locke, W. (2004) ‘Integrating research and teaching strategies: implications for institutional management and leadership in the United Kingdom’, Higher Education Management and Policy 16(4): 101–120.Google Scholar
  21. Locke, W. (2012). ‘The dislocation of teaching and research and the reconfiguring of academic work’, London Review of Education 10(3), 261–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Locke, W. (2014) Shifting Academic Careers: Implications for Enhancing Professionalism in Teaching and Supporting Learning, York: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  23. Neves, J. and Hillman, N. (2016) The 2016 Student Academic Experience Survey, York: Higher Education Policy Institute and Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  24. Palacio, A., Meneses, G. and Pérez, P. (2002) ‘The configuration of the university image and its relationship with the satisfaction of students’, Journal of Educational Administration 40(5): 486–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Parsons, D., Hill, I., Holland, J. and Willis, D. (2012) Impact of Teaching Development Programmes in Higher Education, York: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  26. QAA and NUS. (2012) Student Experience Research, Part 1: Teaching and Learning. National Union of Students, UK.Google Scholar
  27. Sabri, D. (2013) ‘Student evaluations of teaching as ‘fact-totems’: the case of the UK national student survey’, Sociological Research Online 18(4): 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schapper, J. and Mayson, S.E. (2010) ‘Research‐led teaching: moving from a fractured engagement to a marriage of convenience’, Higher Education Research and Development 29(6): 641–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Surridge, P. (2009) The NSS Three Years On: What Have We learned?, York: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  30. Taylor, C. and McCaig, C. (2014) Evaluating the Impact of Number Controls, Choice and Competition: An Analysis of the Student Profile and the Student Learning Environment in the New Higher Education Landscape, York: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  31. Thornton, T. (2014) ‘Professional recognition: promoting recognition through the Higher Education Academy in a UK higher education institution’, Tertiary Education and Management 20(3): 225–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Trigwell, K. (2013) ‘Evaluating the Impact of University Teaching Development Programmes: Methodologies that Ask Why There is an Impact’, in E. Simon and G. Pleschova (eds.) Teaching Development in Higher Education: Existing programs, Program Impact, and Future Trends, New York: Routledge, pp. 257–273.Google Scholar
  33. Williams, J. and Cappuccini-Ansfield, G. (2007) ‘Fitness for purpose? National and institutional approaches to publicising the student voice’, Quality in Higher Education 13(2): 159–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zamorski, B. (2002) ‘Research-led teaching and learning in higher education: a case’, Teaching in Higher Education 7(4): 411–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Association of Universities 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ReadingReadingUK

Personalised recommendations