The National Student Survey (NSS) 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 NSS is now well-established within higher education and the eleventh annual survey was conducted between January and April 2015. Encouraged by Ipsos-MORI and the University, every year students are encouraged to complete the Survey online. In order to maximise the response rate, Ipsos-MORI may contact students who do not respond to the online survey by email, SMS, post and telephone to complete the survey. 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 mid August and the Unistats website is updated in 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 NSS 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.
- learning from subject areas which have improved their results
- continuing to target generic areas of underperformance
- 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 – staff are subsequently encouraged to take responsibility for the results and develop the solutions needed for continued improvement.
Details of the NSS results 2005-2014 are available from the Higher Education Funding Council.
If you have any queries about the NSS, Pat McNally, Careers, Employability and Skills, firstname.lastname@example.org.