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THE UK: Destination Guides

The Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022

A highlight of the UK higher education calendar, the WUSCAs were back in-person for 2022. The awards underlined the quality and commitment of universities to students in the UK, with many deserving winners walking away with top honours.

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2022 marks an important year for UK universities. The prestigious Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) mark a decade of rewarding institutional excellence and providing university students with a voice. The WUSCAs acknowledge the work, effort, and dedication of universities to give students the best experience studying in the UK. Both domestic and international students get to rate their respective universities, rewarding those who have gone above and beyond. 

 

The 2022 WUSCA’s are especially noteworthy as it is the first time in two years that the awards were held in person. And what a night it was. Vice-chancellors and students alike came together dressed in their best at a glittering ceremony in the heart of London, Canary Wharf. 

 

Let’s take a closer look at the WUSCAs and who came out on top in 2022. 

 

How do the WUSCAs work?

 

The WUSCAs are the biggest student-voted awards in higher education. 2022 includes all WUSCA categories again, after a slim-downed version in 2021. Students voluntarily participate in rating their university experience using a rigorous review process. Students can complete either a physical form or complete their review online. Whatever suits them best. The categories that students rate their universities on are: 

 

  • Overall experience 
  • Career prospects
  • Lecturers and teaching quality 
  • Students' Union 
  • Halls and student accommodation 
  • Facilities 
  • Student life 
  • Student support 
  • Postgraduate experience (where applicable)
  • International 
  • Small or specialist 

 

Each of these categories has a mark out of five given by each student. This is then added together to get the overall score for a category. The highest scoring university tops the table for a particular category. 

 

The ‘University of the Year’ is awarded their title based on scores they receive for all these categories. There is also the ‘Outreach and Widening Participation Submission Award’ that acknowledges universities for their efforts to support and empower students.

 

We know you’ll want to know who won, so without further delay, here are the 2022 WUSCA winners

 

WUSCA winners for 2022

 

University of the year award

 

The ‘University of the Year’ was won by University College Birmingham. Their win marks a monumental rise of 55 places from 2020 to the gold medal place in 2022. Sharing the podium were Nottingham Trent University in second and the University of Sheffield in third. So how did University College Birmingham attain the top spot? The words of one of their students make it clear:

 

"Genuinely from the bottom of my heart, this university is amazing. My lecturers are so incredibly kind and supportive and helpful. They make everyone feel at ease and they have so much passion for the subject that it makes everyone feel very passionate about it too." – Student review on Whatuni.

 

Career Prospects award

 

We know that as an international student the graduate prospects offered by an institution are important. You want to have the best chance of a successful start to your career and further progression. That’s where university support in areas, such as careers counselling, internships, work placements and industry connections are so important. 

 

In 2022, the number one WUSCA spot for career prospects went to Harper Adams University. It marked an amazing run of consistency for the institution, having been winners for five successive years. Second place in the category went to the University of Bath, while Hartpury University grabbed the bronze medal place. 

 

Here’s what a student had to say about their experience at Harper Adams University:

 

"A great learning environment, with the chance to pursue your interests and bounce ideas off fellow course mates. The placement year was a great insight into industry, allowing me to pursue my career."  Student review on Whatuni

 

Lecturers and Teaching Quality award

 

The quality of the teaching and learning you receive during your studies is essential to a positive academic experience. It often ranks as the number one priority for international students. That’s why this WUSCA category is so important. 

 

Hartpury University was the winner for 2022, which sees the university gain 14 places from their 2020 WUSCA performance. It’s also a testament to maintaining an excellent standard of teaching and support at the university. Buckinghamshire New University claimed the runners up spot while the University of Gloucestershire rounded out the top three. 

 

So, what exactly did students have to say about Hartpury University? Here’s just one example of the positive reviews received: 

 

"Lessons are delivered in person, which after COVID has been so beneficial, I feel like I'm actually learning. We have good access to our lecturers- I feel tutor sessions really help this relationship." – Student review on Whatuni

 

Students’ Union award

 

Every student wants to feel part of the student community and have somewhere to call home on campus. That’s why universities work hard to provide high-quality student unions that meet student needs and expectations. 

 

In 2022 the university judged to have done the best job on this is the University of Sheffield. They are no strangers to winning this category, having topped the table four times previously. Students were open with their praise for the university:

 

"Great students' union with facilities at hand for students. Always listen to our feedback and improve so we can experience a better student experience every time. Great staff who are always supportive. Friendly atmosphere." – Student review on Whatuni

 

Notable mentions must be given to the second and third-placed institutions. Cardiff University achieved the runners up place, with the University of Strathclyde achieving an excellent rating for the third step on the podium. 

 

Halls and Student Accommodation award

 

Having a safe and comfortable place to stay while studying abroad is important for students. It leads to better well-being and allows you to make friends and become part of your university community. Not all student accommodation is created equal, and that’s why those institutions that offer the best should be acknowledged. 

 

The WUSCAs 2022 winner for the best student halls and accommodation was Aberystwyth University. A previous placing in the top 20 for the university was bettered by 13 spots, rising to become the number one university for student accommodation. 

 

The second place was occupied by the University of Lincoln, while Bangor University placed third.

 

Students didn’t hold back in their praise of Aberystwyth University:

 

"The halls are well-managed with plenty of support available for people when appliances break and things need fixing. Any and all problems are resolved quickly." – Student review on Whatuni

 

Facilities award

 

Universities need to be able to provide top-quality, well managed and relevant facilities to give students a holistic student experience. They should cater for different needs and interests too. Getting the balance right is critical. So who did it best in 2022?

 

The answer is Loughborough University, winning the award for the second time. The university was noted for the variety of facilities on offer as well as the positive environment these create:

 

"There are so many different facilities, from the sports facilities to all of the different places to study or work. The campus has such a good feel to it." – Student review on Whatuni

 

Edge Hill University and Hartpury University came second and third in this category respectively. 

 

Student Life

 

While being a student means dedication to academic pursuits, it’s also a time to have fun and immerse yourself in student life. Universities must work hard to develop an environment that encourages diversity, inclusion, and a sense of community. 

 

As per the verdict of students, Nottingham Trent University does this better than any other institution. The university rose 22 places to claim the top position in this category in 2022. They were closely followed by Student Union category winner the University of Sheffield and another Yorkshire based institution, the University of Leeds

 

Student Support 

 

Studying abroad is a big decision with many life changes coming with it. You may feel slightly anxious about leaving home, or perhaps you need some help accessing key student services. All of this requires the necessary help from an institution. That’s where student support services play a central role. 

 

Aside from being voted ‘University of the Year’, University College Birmingham was also acknowledged for their excellent student support. This represents a significant jump of 26 places for the institution since the 2020 awards. Students underlined the positive support they received from the university:

 

"They have been so far filled with amazing people and staff that go out of their way to help and support you through your studies. Overall, I would say my uni is my second home." – Student review on Whatuni

 

The category also saw a strong showing from second-placed Bishop Grosseteste University and third-placed Plymouth Marjon University (St Mark & St John)

 

Postgraduate award

 

Postgraduate study is the ambition of many international students. Studying for a master’s degree can be a critical step towards improving career prospects or gaining critical new knowledge. You’ll want to study at an institution that excels in providing top-quality postgraduate qualifications. 

 

If you’ve been thinking about studying in the UK, then the University of Greenwich, London is a good option. They came out on top of all universities in the UK for postgraduate studies at the WUSCAs. It’s the first time they’ve won the award but illustrates the effort and emphasis placed on graduate education at the university. Students at the university pointed out the quality of education and facilities:

 

"I will say this is the best place to study your course as it comes with the best professors and facilities for the students. I am an MSc Computer Science student, and I must say I am glad I chose this university to do my master's program." – Student review on Whatuni

 

Other universities highly rated by students were Nottingham Trent University (2nd) and Bangor University (3rd). 

 

International award

 

The ‘International’ WUSCA award is perhaps the category that may most interest you. It demonstrates how committed an institution is to an international outlook and providing an environment where students from different backgrounds can succeed. Let’s take a quick look at what students from the winning university had to say:

 

"The university has provided so many opportunities to explore different cultures through the Global Lounge and by organising Global Week. The support provided for students during assessments in particular is very helpful. Other than that, the university provided guidance every step of the way in terms of accommodation, opening a bank account and other things that are a part of an international student's life in a new country. It’s been a great experience overall." – Student review on Whatuni

 

It's a glowing review for winners Nottingham Trent University, who had an excellent WUSCAs 2022, coming in second overall and featuring in the top three of numerous categories. Honourable mentions must also be given to Bangor University, who claimed the silver medal position, while the University of Greenwich came in third. 

 

Small or Specialist institution award

 

Sometimes as a student, you’re looking for an institution that provides specialist education in a particular field or discipline. If you want a hyper-focused curriculum that is skills and industry-focused, then an institution like this may be for you. At the WUSCAs, Plymouth College of Art walked off with the top award, with Norland College and Futureworks – Media School in the runner up positions.  

 

Outreach and Widening Participation Submission Award

 

The final WUSCA category concentrated on how universities approached student outreach and participation, particularly during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. This award was judged slightly differently from the others, with a panel of student judges evaluating submissions. 

 

The winner for 2022 was Middlesex University, followed by the University of Chester and Loughborough University. The winner also receives GBP 10,000, which helps fund bursaries for five eligible students as part of the Whatuni Student Bursaries programme. 

 

There you have it. That was the WUSCAs for 2022. Congratulations go to all the winning institutions and a note of appreciation to all of those students who made their voices heard. Remember that you can find out more about studying in the UK and search for your ideal qualification using our course matcher

 

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