The physics laboratory has long been a distinctive feature of physics education. It has been given a central role in the teaching and learning of physics at school and undergraduate levels in universities. The literature indicates that science educators have suggested that there are academically rich benefits in the learning and understanding of physics based on laboratory work. However, some educators have begun to raise serious and valid questions about the effectiveness of the learning through laboratory work in science subjects and the heavy cost for the establishment and maintenance of laboratories. This research paper provides perspectives on these issues through a brief review of the history, goals and objectives related to the physics undergraduate laboratory. An empirical research study was conducted to determine the university students' perceptions, views and opinions with regard to physics learning during undergraduate laboratory work. This involved 143 students from first and higher years and the evidence was gathered by survey and focus group interviews, the former using a variety of types of questions. The evidence from the students is positive and suggests that undergraduate physics laboratory work may well be contributing towards the achievement of specific desirable goals.