Cara Lambregts

The Global Student Satisfaction Awards: An Origin Story


The Global Student Satisfaction Awards are the only student-powered global university overview capturing feedback on life inside and outside the classroom. The Awards empower students to share their views, to create recognition for the best universities in the world, from the perspective of students. The last edition saw over 108,000 reviews collected from students in over 4,000 universities.

So where did it all start? This initiative can be traced back to the early days of Studyportals and started when a group of international student associations came together to find out how to help students make more informed decisions.

“We saw the trend of TripAdvisor. And we saw how TripAdvisor was transforming how people were choosing restaurants, and choosing hotels, through reviews. So, we noticed there was a real desire for students to not only find out about the programmes that the university had to offer, and what the city was about, and what the costs were, but also really wanted to get a sense of how happy and satisfied the students were at that university.” – Edwin van Rest, CEO & Co-Founder

After having noticed these trends – the STEX (Student Experience Exchange) programme was born. This was a platform to help exchange information about what students were experiencing at various universities around the world. These included details ranging from classes to where you could find accommodation and the best supermarkets in the area. This platform ended up having a a lot of value for students.

As this platform grew, the question arose of how to incentivize students to share their opinions and experiences with others. This is how a collaboration with UNICEF and the Nelson Mandela foundation began. With every experience that is shared with prospective students, we would donate the value of 1 brick to build schools in Africa.

“We had figured out together with UNESCO, that if we would have 20,000 reviews, there would be enough donations to build one small little Primary School. We were dreaming maybe one day, we will achieve that goal.” – Edwin van Rest, CEO & Co-Founder

In the 2021 edition, there were over 108,000 student experiences. This means that 5 1/2 schools were able to be built in Africa for students who otherwise would not have access to this education.

With these reviews, the Global Student Satisfaction Awards were established to not only continue to collect reviews, but also to  become a recognition programme. Universities who were doing well and were committed to improving the experience of their students are recognized and given the spotlight to share their strategies for other schools.

Now, the Student Satisfaction Awards continue to be a platform to highlight and recognize the voices of students around the world. Together, we can increase the quality of higher education and guarantee that future students will be able to have a positive and impactful experience.

We are listening to students, are you?


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