National Student Survey - guide for students

The National Student Survey (NSS) is an independent survey that gathers final year undergraduate students' opinions on the quality of their course.

The NSS is run once a year by the market research company Ipsos on behalf of the UK funding and regulatory bodies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

How does the survey work?

The survey runs from January to April and is aimed mainly at final year undergraduates.

Every university in the UK takes part and response rates are consistently high.

Ipsos run the survey and they contact all students who are eligible to take part by email or phone. They receive contact details for eligible students from universities and colleges. 

About the questions

The NSS asks a number of questions relating to the following aspects of your learning experience:

  • teaching on your course
  • learning opportunities
  • marking and assessment
  • academic support
  • organisation and management
  • learning resources
  • student voice
  • mental health and wellbeing services
  • freedom of expression (students in England only).

You will also be given the opportunity to:

  • answer a question about overall satisfaction with the quality of your course (students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland only)
  • provide positive and negative open text comments about your learning experience as a whole.

In addition to this, universities and colleges can also choose from up to six sets of optional questions.

If you are studying a course that is associated with a health or social care regulatory body, including pre-registration nursing, midwifery, allied health profession, social work and clinical practice subjects, you will be asked a set of questions about your practice placement.

It's important that your answers to these questions reflect your honest opinion about your course. You shouldn't be influenced to answer in a certain way.

See the full list of questions

Improving student experiences

The NSS matters because it makes a tangible difference to the experience students have at university.

By completing the survey, students can make it clear what is - and isn't - working for them.

We know that universities and colleges listen to this feedback and act on it.

We have, for example, seen improvements in:

  • facilities
  • library opening hours
  • the feedback students receive from their lecturers.

The NSS has now been running for over 10 years, which provides a rich history of feedback, which universities and colleges are using all the time. 

Informing student choices

The NSS also matters because we use the results to help future students make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The results are published on Discover Uni, a website which provides official data to help those applying for higher education courses decide what and where to study.

Find out more

Last updated 13 December 2022
13 December 2022
Full list of NSS 2023 questions added
23 November 2022
Additional details about NSS questions added
25 October 2021
Small updates to remove old content.
13 November 2020
Redirected link to NSS privacy notice
23 October 2020
Links to register for student workshops for the review of the NSS removed
06 October 2020
Links added to register for student workshops for the review of the NSS
15 July 2020
Video updated

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