A comparison of staff perceptions and student experiences of issues associated with university


  • Steve Briggs
  • Norma Pritchett




Student Experience, Difficulties, Life Events, Tutor Awareness, University Staff Awareness


A significant body of research (Yorke, 1999a; 1999b; 2000a; 2000b) has examined difficulties experienced by students who withdraw from university. However, less work has been undertaken around students who experience difficulties but choose to remain in their studies. Similarly, limited work has addressed how tutors and university support staff perceive difficulties associated with the student experience and whether these are in line with student accounts. The lack of research around university staff perceptions is surprising given that tutors must have a good knowledge of the student experience in order to be able to understand and support learning. The purpose of this study was twofold. Firstly, to examine what difficulties students reported experiencing during university and secondly, to ascertain if university staff knowledge of student difficulties were in line with student accounts. Using semi-structured interviews and an online questionnaire, staff and student perceptions of university difficulties were examined. Results showed that all students experienced difficulties whilst studying. It was generally found that university staff had a good knowledge of student difficulties. However, two types of difficulty were identified (related to university systems and experience of teaching) of which staff were less aware. Possible explanations for findings are offered along with recommendations as to how findings might influence a learning developer.  

Author Biographies

Steve Briggs

Learning Support Tutor at the University of Bedfordshire

Norma Pritchett

Head of Academic Quality Enhancement and Head of Professional and Academic Development at the University of Bedfordshire




How to Cite

Briggs, S. and Pritchett, N. (2010) “A comparison of staff perceptions and student experiences of issues associated with university”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (2). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.v0i2.52.