The stress of final exams and concerns over data security contributed to Birmingham University's failure to make a national student satisfaction survey.

The lack of responses from students at the university meant the institution did not figure in the Governmentbacked second annual National Student Survey released yesterday.

As last year, other leading institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick did not receive enough replies from students to be included in the national rankings.

The survey, backed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), showed students at universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are more satisfied with their courses than their peers in England.

But one in ten across the UK are unhappy with their experiences of higher education.

The number of students who took part in the study fell sharply this year after universities complained they were being "harassed" to respond.

Gary Hughes, president of the University of Birmingham Guild of Students, said: "The lack of an institutional school for Birmingham and the lower response rate may be a result of our concern about passing on the mobile phone numbers of final year students to the survey company at a stressful time of year when our students were preparing for their final exams."

The Open University topped the overall student satisfaction table, with a score of 4.49 out of five, followed by the University of Buckingham, and St Andrews.

Birmingham's two other universities, Aston and UCE, scored 4.1 and 3.8 respectively.

In Scotland, where tuition fees have been abolished, 85 per cent of students were satisfied with their courses but in England, where fees will more than double this autumn to £3,000 a year, the figure was 80 per cent.

Professor Michael Arthur, vice-chancellor of Leeds University and chairman of the National Student Survey steering group, said he was "delighted" that so many students took part in the research.

Wes Streeting, from the National Union of Students, added: "The fact that so many students responded to the survey is fantastic news.

"Not only does it show that current students support the survey and recognise its worth, but it also means the survey provides wide-ranging ad comprehensive information."

Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said the survey - along with a website detailing teaching quality at different universities - would help sixth-formers decide where they wanted to study.

* Midland universities and their overall satisfaction scores this year included Coventry (4.0), Staffordshire (3.9), Newman College in Birmingham (4.1), University of Worcester (4.0) and Harper Adam College in Shropshire (4.3)

* The results showed 30 per cent of students definitely agreed that they were satisfied overall with their courses, and 50 per cent "mostly" agreed

* One in ten definitely or mostly disagreed that they were satisfied with their courses, while the remaining ten per cent did not express a view

* The funding council said 157,000 final-year students, 56 per cent of the total, took part in the survey this year. This was down significantly from the 170,000 - 60 per cent of last year's total - who took part in 2005

Results of the survey can be found on the Teaching Quality Information web-site at