Western’s Fall 2021 Student Satisfaction Survey

In Fall 2021, Western's COVID Support Team administered a survey that focused on assessing the students' level of satisfaction with the university's response to COVID-19 during the first portion of the quarter. Results of the survey are being factored into planning for Winter 2022 and beyond.

All current Western students were invited to participate. In total, 5.1% of students were enrolled in classes during Fall 2021 responded to the survey.

Student Type

What is your year at Western?

  • 12% First-year undergraduate
  • 11% Second-year undergraduate
  • 19% Third-year undergraduate
  • 25% Fourth-year undergraduate
  • 13% Fifth+ year undergraduate
  • 15% Graduate
  • 3% Other

There were a total of 767 respondents for the survey, comprised of 81.2%   undergraduates, 15.4% graduates, and 3.3% other. This is skewed from Western’ s enrollment, which consists of 92.3% undergraduates, 6.0% graduates, and 1.7% other. Other includes non - matriculated and post - baccalaureate students.

Student Identity

If comfortable, please indicate your race/ethnicity. (Select all that apply)

Bar chart representing the "Survey Responses" column in the table that follows

Of the survey respondents, 92.6% provided their race/ethnicity, with the other 7.4% preferring not to answer. 

Race/Ethnicity Fall 2021 Enrollment Survey Responses
American Indian or Alaskan Native 1.8% 0.7%
Asian 11.40% 3.4%
Black or African American 3.3% 1.1%
Hispanic or Latino 10.6% 3.3%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0.5% 0.1%
White 68.1% 75.3%
Race/ethnicity unknown 2.13% 0.3%
Two or more races 1.3% 8.4%

Demographics of survey responses were compared to overall Western enrollment for Fall 2021 to determine what groups were over– or under- represented in survey responses. 

Campus Location and Program

Which Western campus/program do you attend?

Which Western campus/program do you attend? Bellingham campus 95.7%, Bremerton 0.7%, Everett 1.6%, Poulsbo 0.4%, Unsure 0.5%, Western Online 1.2%

Trends in survey respondent location mirrors Fall 2021 enrollment, which lists 94.6% of students at the main campus, and 2.6% at the Bremerton, Everett, and Poulsbo locations.

Which college does your intended major or area of study fall under?

Which college does your intended major or area of study fall under? Business & economics 9.7%, Fine and performing arts 3.7%, Humanities and Social Sciences 27.7%, Science and Engineering 22.1%, Fairhaven 3.3%, Huxley 10.1%, Woodring 15.3%, Other 2.0%, Unsure or undetermined 6.2%

Presence on Campus

What has your on-campus presence looked like this quarter so far? Select all that apply.

What has your on-campus presence looked like? I have not been on campus 10.4%, I have taken classes on campus 81.4%, I have lived on campus 20.4%, I have worked on campus 21.1%, I have been on campus for other reasons 25.6%, I have been on a remote campus/program 15.1%

Nearly 90% of respondents have been on campus in the 2020-2021 academic year so far. Of those who have been on campus, 55% have been on campus for multiple reasons. Some reasons students may have come on campus other than work, class, or housing include to study, use the computer labs or printers, or for extracurriculars such as athletic practices. 

Modality Preference

How would you prefer to learn at Western during winter quarter?

  • 35% I would prefer traditional learning (all in-person)
  • 37% I would prefer hybrid learning (some online, some in-person)
  • 23% I would prefer remote learning (all online)
  • 3% I don't have a preference
  • 1% I do not intend to be a student at Western for winter quarter

Regarding class modality, 60.6% of students would like all or some online classes, and 72.7% would like all or some in-person classes.

Satisfaction with Response

Please indicate your level of agreement with each of the following statements regarding Western’s COVID response this fall quarter so far.

Western has done a good job at protecting students from COVID.

  • 4% Strongly disagree
  • 11% Somewhat disagree
  • 12% Neither agree nor disagree
  • 41% Somewhat agree
  • 33% Strongly agree

The majority of students feel that Western has done a good job protecting students from COVID, with 73.5% somewhat or strongly agreeing, compared to 14.8% somewhat or strongly disagreeing.

Western has done a good job at communicating to students about changes due to COVID.

  • 8% Strongly disagree
  • 16% Somewhat disagree
  • 14% Neither agree nor disagree
  • 33% Somewhat agree
  • 29% Strongly agree

Most students feel that Western has done a good job communicating changes, with 61.8% somewhat or strongly agreeing with the statement, compared to 24.5% somewhat

Western has shown care and concern for students as they respond to the spread COVID.

  • 7% Strongly disagree
  • 16% Somewhat diagree
  • 14% Neither agree nor disagree
  • 33% Somewhat agree
  • 31% Strongly agree

Most students feel that Western has shown care and concern in responding to the spread of COVID, with 63.4% somewhat or strongly agreeing with the statement, compared to 23.0% somewhat or strongly disagreeing.

Western has shown care and concern for students as they make changes to classes in response to COVID.

  • 11% Strongly disagree
  • 18% Somewhat disagree
  • 19% Neither agree nor disagree
  • 30% Somewhat agree
  • 21% Strongly agree

About half of students feel that Western has shown care and compassion with class changes, with 51.0% somewhat or strongly agreeing with the statement, compared to 29.8% somewhat or strongly disagreeing.

What have you appreciated most about Western’s response to COVID?

Nearly 450 students provided responses to what they think Western has done well in responding to COVID. Over 30% of respondents spoke to vaccinations, such as the vaccine mandate and vaccination rates on campus of students and employees. The second most commonly mentioned aspect was masking, by 26.5% of students, especially regarding mask mandates, the availability of masks on campus, and the culture around mask wearing.

Nearly 20% of respondents mentioned course modality, with many students appreciating the flexibility in course modality right now, as well as getting to be back to in-person learning. Other commonly mentioned aspects of Western’s response included communicating out COVID data, the availability and lack of cost for on-campus student COVID testing, and the flexibility of instructors when students miss class due to illness.

Here are some comments from students; these responses have not been edited.

  • I love the fact that classes were moved online. I have health issues and it really helped me feel safer.
  • I have appreciated Western mandating masks and vaccines. I find in-person classes much more effective for my learning than online so I appreciate the efforts to keep in-person classes.
  • I have appreciated the care they have taken for students living on campus. I have also appreciated how normal it is to be on campus with a mask on. No one complains about it, everyone just does it. Please keep this up!
  • Transparent about stats (e.g. number of cases, etc.), timely announcements about plans, offer free rapid testing for students/staff/faculty
  • I have appreciated the strict rules on masks and vaccines.
  • The kindness and patience of our professors. They all know that we are having a hard time readjusting and some of us have caught it and need to be online.
  • Requiring students to be vaccinated is the single most important response Western took that made me feel safe and confident about continuing my education here.
  • The transparency of the dashboard reporting (buildings with reported cases, etc.) has fostered my trust in Western's covid management and communication well enough for me to consider trying an in person class in winter. I am high risk so I've been very cautious.

What do you want Western to do differently in response to COVID?

Regarding what Western could do better, 465 students provided responses. Nearly 38% of students commented on modality, with almost half of those responses speaking to the desire for Western to continue providing both in-person and remote options for courses, so students can chose what works best for them. Other modality comments addressed a desire for a return to fully in-person courses, while others expressed a desire for fully remote courses.

A large portion of students commented on masking, with 30.5% commenting on it. Most of these responses included wanting Western to lift masking requirements, especially in outdoor settings. Other commonly addressed aspects included a desire for increased testing access and requirements, including vaccinated students, as well as wanting more information and context regarding COVID data. Many students also mentioned a lack of physical distancing in classes, concern over grades going down after missing class due to illness, and communicating modality changes for courses sooner.

Here are some comments from students; these responses have not been edited.

  • I would like to have classes in person and not wear masks outside.
  • More communication about what is expected from students (i.e. social distancing in classrooms if possible, what to do if someone tests positive in your class but you are not sure if you were exposed due to where you were sitting, etc.)
  • If classes are going to be given in person, then mandatory attendance shouldn’t be taken. Attendance policies and lack of live streams/recording doesn’t allow sick people to stay home when needed.
  • I don’t want classes that are only available in person on campus. This is extremely inaccessible to a significant number of students, especially disabled students and those who interact with disabled people in their day to day lives. Getting a degree shouldn’t require risking your life.
  • Communication is difficult. Not because we aren't communicating, but because there is just so much of it. Sometimes it is hard to navigate all of the information coming at us. It would be nice if we had like a 'Google' for COVID related information on WWU's website.
  • Having some classes online and some in person has been difficult for students to schedule, as many students are stuck on campus between 2 classes, yet have to find a place to be in an online class.

Is there anything you’d like Western to know about your experience regarding COVID during fall quarter so far?

319 students provided additional information that they would like Western to know about their experience regarding COVID. Most of the comments mirrored aspects that were addressed in the earlier two questions, as well as describing how they have been feeling. Many students mentioned feeling unsafe, scared, stressed, or concerned, and shared information about their specific situation and their frustration with how the quarter has been. Several other students shared that they are feeling safer as they’ve seen how seriously their peers are taking the situation and appreciating being on campus again.

Here are some comments from students; these responses have not been edited.

  • It was disappointing to have the class modality switch to remote only 2 weeks out from the quarter beginning.
  • It's hard to feel connected to others without in person elements. I appreciate the start we've made in moving that direction and would love to continue that moving forward. I've felt pretty isolated and alone this quarter.
  • It has been fine. While it is nice to get back to in-person learning, a lot of anxiety comes with the adjustment and the pandemic.
  • I have felt extremely unsafe on campus when it comes to Covid. Especially in the dining areas as all tables always have evidence of others eating there which means it hasn't been cleaned.
  • I'm so burned out and so is everyone else
  • overall i’m very pleased. please continue to offer a verity of mixed modality of classes even after covid is no longer an issue.
  • I wish western had been more decisive about remote learning. Because the decision is made quarter by quarter I wasn’t able to sign up for the grad degree plan I wanted
  • I want to be back in person. If I finish my studies without ever having been to campus, I will be disappointed. However, I suspect that the winter quarter is not a good time to return to classes.
  • Please continue offering online classes! Not because of the pandemic, just because I think they are an effective way for non-traditional students to complete their programs
  • It’s taken some adjusting to, but learning in person with masks on hasn’t been as bad as I expected it to be! And it’s much more preferable to not being able to be in person.


For questions about this report, contact covidsupport@wwu.edu.