Academic & Student Affairs

The National Student Survey

The National Student Survey has been commissioned by the national bodies that fund higher education in the UK, including, in the case of Northern Ireland, the Department of Employment & Learning, and is conducted on their behalf by the market research organisation, Ipsos-MORI. It is a survey of final year undergraduates and allows them to have their say about their time at university. As such, the Survey is intended primarily to help prospective students decide which course they would like to follow and which university they would like to study at. The results are published on the Unistats website. The Survey also provides important information for institutions on what students feel about their university experience, and is serving to drive up standards as universities compete with each other to improve their position in league tables.

The Survey is undertaken annually (the first was in 2005), normally around February and March. It is conducted online and final year students will be emailed by Ipsos-MORI, and the University, about it. In order to maximise the response rate, students who do not complete the questionnaire online will be sent a postal questionnaire and may also be telephoned by Ipsos-MORI. The questionnaire is anonymous and no results are published that would allow any student to be identified.

The questionnaire has 23 questions covering the following aspect of a student's university experience: teaching; assessment and feedback; academic support; organisation and management; learning resources; personal development; overall satisfaction. The results of the Survey are published on a subject basis in late August or early September. Within the University, the results are sent to Schools and academic-support services and also to senior management committees.

Improving its scores in the National Student Survey is a top priority for the University.

Better results will only be achieved through real improvements in the quality of academic provision and services to students. In order to achieve this, the University's senior management has approved a detailed action plan. The plan aims to improve performance by:

  • continuing to promote student engagement with the NSS. This will include working with the Students’ Union to develop a student led ‘Education Programme’ that will help to develop a sense of pride in the University
  • learning from subject areas which have improved their results this year
  • continuing to target generic areas of underperformance. Last year, specific actions were directed at the three areas Assessment & Feedback, Organisation & Management and Learning Resources. Improvements have now been achieved in all three. Academic Support and Assessment & Feedback are key areas for 2011-12
  • continuing to target Schools or subject areas where the University would wish to see improvement made more quickly
  • promoting clear managerial messages to all staff about the importance of the NSS. All staff must take responsibility for the results and developing the solutions needed for continued improvement.

National Student Survey Arrangements 2012

The arrangements for the 2012 survey are still being finalised. We will publish information as it becomes available.

If you have any queries about the NSS, Pat McNally, Careers, Employability and Skills,