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The National Student Survey

The National Student Survey (NSS) has been commissioned by the national bodies that fund higher education in the UK, including the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland), 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 at which University they would like to study. The results are published on the DiscoverUni 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, running since 2005 and significantly updated in 2017. Encouraged by Ipsos-MORI and the University, every year, students are encouraged to complete the survey online. To maximise the response rate, Ipsos-MORI may contact students who do not respond to the online survey by email, SMS, 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 27 questions covering the following aspect of a student’s university experience: teaching; learning opportunities; assessment and feedback; academic support; organisation and management; learning resources; learning community; student voice; overall satisfaction. There are also optional questions following the core sections; these can change from year to year and focus on current issues. The results of the survey are published on a subject basis in early July. Within the University, the results are sent to Schools, academic-support services, and 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. 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 improvements 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.


Public results from the NSS are available on the OfS website. These results can be used in marketing and promotional materials for subjects.

If you have any queries about the NSS, please contact Duncan Berryman (Careers, Employability and Skills), email: