Turns out, he wasn’t asking me that at all. He was asking me what we were weighting for – in this research about the impact of student participation to make sure the sample was representative.
It’s now one of the first things I look for when people publish stuff – and so this note appended to the recent ONS Student Covid-19 Insights Survey (SCIS) release caught my eye:
In order to make the sample of a survey representative of the population, responses are weighted by sex and region… It is also worth noting that age is not adjusted (weighted) for and it does not appear to be very representative of the student population, we will work to weight by age in upcoming waves.”
Well, they’ve actually gone one further – and rather than just making us wait until the next wave, they’ve now published a small selection of cuts of the data by age.
One of the findings that caught the eye of the press was 63 per cent of students reporting that their wellbeing and mental health was “slightly or much worse now” than in September. That rises to 69 per cent for 21 to 24 year olds, and 71 per cent for those 20 and under.
Perhaps there’s a link to where people were living in late Feb. The national count showed that 10 per cent of students were in halls at the time and 35 per cent were in an HMO – but for those 20 and under that’s up to 31 per cent in halls and 53 per cent living with parents or guardians.
There are significant differences in satisfaction with the academic experience by age group which are bound to be linked to year and level of study. Generally 44 per cent of students were satisfied or very satisfied, but that falls to 28 per cent for those 20 and under. 33 per cent of students said they were dissatisfied, which rises to 50 per cent for those under 20.
Similarly, dissatisfaction with what the ONS unhelpfully calls “the social experience” is 57 per cent generally, and 68 per cent for those under 20.
Some have speculated that the “newer” students are, the less they’ll have known what to expect and therefore the happier they’ll have been generally both in themselves and in what’s been provided. On this evidence, it’s the opposite that seems to be true.