Official statistics

National Student Survey 2023 data: student characteristics data

Student characteristics data

This page contains a visualisation of data from the 2023 National Student Survey (NSS) for different groups of students. 

This visualisation can be used to understand how students in general responded to the core NSS questions and also analyses responses by different student groups.

*Theme measures have been published this year as experimental statistics, which are subject to further review and could change in future. Find out more about theme measures and how to share your feedback. 

Due to the changes in the questions and response options, the 2023 NSS results cannot be straightforwardly compared with those from earlier years. In particular, the removal of the neutral response option in 2023 means that we would expect more students to respond positively in 2023, regardless of any change in the student experience.  

Using the data and dashboard

Read the coverage of the student characteristics document

It explains where to find more information about how the student characteristics are calculated and the restrictions to the population for each characteristic.

The data dashboard allows you to select NSS results, using the filters at the top of the dashboard. 

The dashboard has two views, selected using the tabs at the top of the dashboard: 

  • The Positivity measures view presents the proportion of students who were positive in response to each question. 
  • The Difference from benchmark view compares the positivity measure for each question to an adjusted sector average, called the benchmark. This is to aid interpretation of whether a student group are more or less positive than would be expected given their other characteristics. 

In both views, you can use the filters to choose which characteristic to look at and to focus on a particular population.  For example, when viewing the NSS results by disability type, you can use the filters to focus on those students who are studying full-time, or who are studying a particular subject. 

The dashboard contains multiple filters and it will take a moment to reload when each filter is changed. This loading time can vary based on internet speed and the processing power of the device used. We are aware that the dashboard can be particularly slow when new NSS publications are released, due to the high number of users, and we are actively looking for solutions to this. 

All the data available on the dashboards can be accessed using our data downloads, which we provide in CSV and Excel format. 

Download the NSS data

In our data dashboards, the positivity measure and the difference from benchmark are surrounded by shaded bars. These indicate that the values are estimates and may be affected by random variation. For example, the NSS results are a measurement at a point in time – it is possible that some respondents would respond differently on another day and that this would lead to a different estimate. We refer to this as statistical uncertainty.  

The shaded bars show a range. We can be confident that the true value lies within this range. The shading of the bars indicates the changing likelihood that the true value falls outside the range of the shading. It is more likely that the true value falls within the heavily shaded areas, and less likely that it falls within the lightly shaded areas. Conversely, we can be very confident that the true value lies within the entire shaded range, but less confident that it lies within the narrower, heavily shaded area around the estimate. 

The shaded bars are constructed from confidence intervals, ranging from 99.7 per cent to 75 per cent, with the shading changing with 2.5 percentage point increments. 

Uncertainty depends heavily on population size. You will typically see that measures based on small populations are surrounded by wider shaded bars. 

Find out more about the statistical methods used to create the shaded bars. 

Question 28 ('Overall, I am satisfied with the quality the course') has a different format from the other survey questions and five rather than four response options. Because of this, the positivity measure for question 28 cannot be straightforwardly concerned with the positivity measure for the other questions. In particular, we would typically expect the positivity measure for question 28 to be lower than the positivity measure for the other questions, because we allow respondents to take a neutral stance ('Neither agree nor disagree'). 

Question 28 is only asked of students studying in providers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Therefore, results for question 28 are not provided for England, or for the whole UK.

Through changing the filters on the data dashboard, you may arrive at a selection for which no data is available. This would happen, for instance, if you selected the filters ‘Apprenticeship’ and ‘Undergraduate with postgraduate components’ for a subject area with no apprenticeships at that level. This will also occur if you select a student characteristic or question where the data is not available for a particular country or at UK level. When this happens, you will be presented with the message ‘Data unavailable’. You can choose a different combination of filters or refresh your browser. To find out more details on the unavailable data please click on the 'Data unavailable?' button on the data dashboard.

Rarely, we are unable to calculate benchmarks for student characteristic data.  In some cases, one or more of the benchmarking factors are unknown for most students in a student group. In these cases, the results are shown with a suppression indicator of BK. Benchmarks are also unavailable in some cases when the student group makes an extremely large contribution to its own benchmark. Again, these results are shown as N/A.  Similarly, we do not provide benchmarks when results are suppressed.

If you receive an error message beginning with '{"result":' when trying to view a dashboard on our website, try closing and restarting your internet browser. This issue can occur if you have viewed a dashboard on the OfS portal since opening your current browser session. 

It is not possible to view our dashboards on the portal and on our website concurrently in the same browser. To switch between them you will need to restart your browser, delete your browser cookies, or use two different browsers. 

Find out more about the NSS data
Published 09 November 2023
Last updated 22 November 2023
22 November 2023
Updated to improve usefulness of the benchmarks for the domicile characteristic. Ethnicity no longer used as a benchmarking factor when considering domicile.

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