It's Official Geology Students Are the Happiest at University?

Geology students at Field trip

It's official: Geology rocks 

 A total of 95% of geologists in a poll of 220,000 students said they were happy with their degree. Why? 

Students on geology courses are the happiest with their degrees, while those on cinematics and photography courses are the least content, today's national student survey shows.

Some 95% of geologists quizzed in the poll of nearly 220,000 students studying all subjects at UK universities and colleges were satisfied with their courses. Only 67% of the photographers were.

It couldn't be anything to do with the geologists' annual two-week field trip to Spain or the Arran Islands to collect water and soil samples, could it?

"That's just one reason geology came top," says Paul Nathanail, professor of engineering geology at the University of Nottingham.

It is a hands-on, practical subject. Geologists can often be found with a hammer in one hand and a bottle of hydrochloric acid and compass in the other, he says.

But geology also gives students, at an early stage in their studies, the chance to be part of cutting-edge science.

"If a student sees a new rock, they can begin to challenge the established way of thinking," he says.

In the last 50 years geology has come into its own, says Dr Ian Sutton, a former geology lecturer at Nottingham.

Developments in the theory of plate tectonics – how the earth's crust moves - have made it a very exciting subject to study, he says.

Plus it has real application for today, with students being sent on assignments to think up ways to prevent floods and earthquakes.

But equally practical, surely, is cinematics and photography, which came bottom of the student satisfaction table. Most of the creative arts were a long way short of 90% or more satisfaction too: design studies came third last with 71% and fine art came fifth with 74%.

Are creative types just more critical?

Chris Owen, assistant dean of the school of art and design at the University of Derby, says the art and design community is baffled by why students rate their courses lower than other subjects. It has commissioned research, which as yet is "inconclusive" on the issue, he says.

"We know that art and design students receive more individual feedback than most subjects, perhaps it's a matter of managing expectations," he says.

Music did better with 81%, but was still lower than most of the languages and sciences.

Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, principal of the Royal Academy of Music, is surprised music isn't higher up the table.

His institution came second overall for student satisfaction, so it would make more sense for music, across all universities and colleges, to bag the top spots too.

Then again, he says, "music is a collaborative discipline which relies on practical delivery and this is either good or bad".

"It's also a very hard profession to break into and therefore musicians battle against self-doubt, stress and strain."

Other subjects which received less good ratings were business and administrative studies - second bottom in the table at 69% satisfied - and maritime technology - fourth bottom at 72% satisfied.

Meanwhile, Eastern, Asian and African languages with area studies, molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry and comparative literary studies were hot on the heels of geology, with just under 95% satisfied.

The above post is reprinted from by
The Guardian by Jessica Shepherd
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