Why does the National Student Survey matter?

The National Student Survey is a survey of all final-year undergraduate students at publicly funded universities and colleges across the UK and gathers students' opinions on the quality of their courses.

How does the survey work?

The survey typically 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.

It is made up of 27 questions, which cover eight aspects of the student experience.

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

Ipsos MORI run the survey and they contact all students who are eligible to take part by email or telephone. They receive contact details for eligible students from the student's university or college. 

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.

The evidence also suggests 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. 


Case study: how the NSS makes a difference

'I also noticed that lecturers gave increasingly detailed feedback on how my work and that of my classmates could be improved. As a dyslexic student, I found the additional detail particularly helpful. Feedback from the NSS which highlighted room for improvement in assessment and feedback was a driving factor in this change.'

- Ben Hunt, Student Engagement Adviser at the Office for Students

Read more about Ben's experience of the NSS


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.

Each year the results are published on Unistats, a website which provides official data to help those applying for higher education courses decide what and where to study.

In September 2019, Unistats will be replaced with a new resource, which will also include results from the NSS. 

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