Background: Does the university experience and environment on two very different campuses create perceptions of advantage or disadvantage despite delivery of the same curriculum by the same tutors? Perhaps more importantly, do different types of universities result in varying achievements in learning given similar students?
Aims: The Hull York Medical School (HYMS) runs the same curriculum with the same faculty on two very different campuses and randomly allocates most students to one or the other. HYMS therefore offers an exceptional opportunity to investigate these questions about the perceptions of educational environment and actual academic achievement controlling as much as possible for design and delivery of the curriculum.
Method: The Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure (DREEM) was administered to students in Year 1 and 2 at HYMS to assess perceptions of the course. Examination results were collected for the cohorts to compare actual academic performance on written and clinical examinations.
Results: Minimal differences were found in perceptions of educational environment, with those differences found favouring the less 'prestigious' institution. Examination results for written and clinical exams over the first 2 years were found not to differ between campuses.
Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that despite perceptions of one university being 'better' than another based on public measures such as league tables, the students' perceptions of educational environment was quite similar and exam performance showed no differences. This suggests that the prestige or ranking of a university based on common measures and perceptions may have far less impact on student learning than careful design and delivery of the curriculum.