From 2014 to 2016, there was a review of information on higher education, for which we published two major pieces of research:
Development of the latest survey
In 2015, we undertook testing to inform a new survey including initial cognitive testing of potential student engagement questions, and a national pilot in 2015.
In August 2016, the outcomes of a new survey consultation were published. Following this, to help inform the new survey questions, we undertook further cognitive testing and another pilot in 2016.
In 2017, a new National Student Survey was introduced including nine new questions on student engagement and updated questions on assessment and feedback and learning resources.
Arrangements for the new National Student Survey were announced in September 2016.
Updating optional banks
In addition to the main survey, providers are also able to choose from a list of optional banks. In 2016, new optional bank questions were tested and for the 2018 survey, existing banks were supplemented with new banks of questions.
Further testing was undertaken in 2017 to explore students’ understanding of the optional bank questions. We intend to work with students and providers to determine whether more fundamental changes to the optional bank are needed.
Evaluating the updated survey
In early 2017, NSS 2017 was evaluated to see how the new survey had worked in practice and to establish if there were any issues. See the report detailing findings from the student and institutional online surveys.
In September 2018, the OfS, together with the UK funding bodies commissioned Shift Learning to conduct research into the approach providers take in promoting the NSS and how the findings are used by providers.
The primary objectives of the research are to help inform our understanding of:
- how the NSS is marketed in, and promoted by, providers
- to what extent the survey has an impact on providers’ practices, including unintended consequences.
The research outputs will inform whether changes are required to the guidance provided to the sector and if improvements are needed to the national management of the survey to ensure it is robust.
The research will be conducted in two phases:
- in-depth telephone interviews (starting in early November 2018)
- online surveys (starting in early December 2018)
In order to ensure the research obtains a balanced view from across the sector, a wide range of different roles in providers are being approached to participate in this research:
- those involved in promoting the NSS
- senior leadership team members
- subject and faculty leads
- student union (or equivalent) representatives
- staff union representatives.
Shift Learning will ensure that all participants involved in the study are unidentifiable to their provider, the OfS and the UK funding bodies. This research is being conducted in line with GDPR and MRS standards.