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National Student Survey

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Dec 15, 2021

The National Student Survey is an annual survey, launched in 2005,[1][2] of all final year undergraduate[3][4] degree students at institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. The survey is designed to assess undergraduate students’ opinions of the quality of their degree programmes, with seven different scores published including an “overall satisfaction” mark.[5]

NSS is conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Office for Students and the UK higher education funding bodies.[1]

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When launched in 2005, the NSS covered all final year undergraduate degree students in publicly funded universities (higher education institutes) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. All universities were obliged to provide contact details for eligible students, though participation is voluntary for the students themselves. This has since been extended to universities in Scotland.

Since 2008, Further Education Colleges (FECs) with directly funded higher education students in England have been eligible to participate.

The National Student Survey has recently come under scrutiny for its links with the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), leading to 25 student associations alongside the National Union of Students supporting a boycott of the NSS in 2017.[6][7] The NSS link with the Teaching Excellence Framework was criticized in 2017 with a report from the Royal Statistical Society who described that there was ‘no reliable association between the two’.[7]

Contact details for students are supplied by the education institutions to the survey research organisation Ipsos MORI. The survey organisation attempts to contact students in January and February, initially by email, to invite them to participate in the online survey. Students have the opportunity to opt out of the survey. To reduce non-response bias, those who neither respond nor opt out are contacted by post or by telephone.[8]

The questionnaire[9] has a core set of 27 attitude questions to assess aspects of the student learning experience.[8]

These are supplemented by open ended questions to capture any particular positive or negative aspects that the student wishes to highlight.

Students studying certain NHS subjects are asked six questions on their work placements.

Participating institutions have the opportunity to add extra questions for their own students. Answers to these are not available publicly, only to the institution and its students union. Questions can be chosen from a bank of questions on the following topics:[9]

  • Careers
  • Course content and structure
  • Work placements
  • Social opportunities
  • Course delivery
  • Feedback from students
  • Physical environment
  • Welfare resources and facilities
  • Workload
  • Assessment
  • Learning community
  • Intellectual motivation

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