Home > Facts and stats > Impact of universities > Universities: what the public thinks

Universities: what the public thinks

Universities feature prominently in national and local media and in political debates, but what the public thinks about the sector has been largely absent from discussions.

In order to better understand the views of the public and to inform our communications and campaigning work, Universities UK commissioned Britain Thinks to carry out in-depth research into what the public thinks about our universities.

Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative studies, the research found that public sentiment is currently high, with 78% of those surveyed positive or neutral about universities. The public recognise the positive role universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland play in the lives of individuals, communities and society. However, when the public thinks about universities and what they do, they mostly think about undergraduate teaching. This means that so much of what happens in our universities – from student volunteering, to research breakthroughs and support for businesses and community groups - is overlooked. As a result this hampers people’s ability to advocate for universities in their towns and regions.

The slide deck provides an overview of the research, focusing in particular on the perceptions of the 31% who identified as ‘neutral’. The presentation identifies their particular sentiments and level of awareness, and suggests the themes and messages which resonate most with this group. This analysis will be used to help UUK and our members to better understand how we increase awareness of the public good of the UK universities.
Public perceptions of UK universities (PDF)

 News

Universities UK welcomes UCAS figures on disadvantaged students

28 November 2019
Universities UK (UUK) today welcomes figures showing that disadvantaged students are 61% more likely to enter university now than they were ten years’ ago.

University leaders make formal commitment to working with UCU on long-term USS pension scheme reform

21 November 2019
University leaders have outlined their commitment to working with UCU to deliver long-term USS pension scheme reform.

Universities UK on developments in Hong Kong

21 November 2019
In response to developments in Hong Kong, Universities UK is in conversation with institutions and offering support to staff and students.

 Blog

General election 2019: what the parties say on higher education

27 November 2019
UUK's Karmjit Kaur takes a look at the policy commitments on higher education in party manifestos ahead of the general election.

Seizing the opportunity to offer more people the chance of success through higher technical education

21 November 2019
UUK's Greg Wade on the 'missing middle' of level 4 and 5 qualifications, and shares UUK's recommendations for government.

City with blue sky

General election 2019: skills, jobs and opportunity

11 November 2019
UUK's Karmjit Kaur on the policies that all parties should commit to, to ensure UK universities remain a global success story.