Once again the National Student Survey (NSS) is upon us: from the end of January through to the end of April the NSS is open for all finalists to respond to. We will be running a campaign with the Students’ Union to encourage as many students to respond as possible so you will see banners around the campus, information on the plasma screens in various buildings, ‘shout-outs’ in lectures by the student representatives and ‘pop-up’ completion events throughout this term. There is also a series of briefings which colleagues are encouraged to attend.
The National Student Survey was launched in 2005 and has taken on increasing significance over the years. This year is no exception: not only does the NSS feed directly into the league tables published by the different media groups, but sections of the NSS now contribute to the metrics that are being used to inform the outcomes of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). This year, for the first time since its launch, the NSS has been revised with changes to some questions and the addition of questions focusing on two areas:
- The extent to which students consider their course has enabled them to explore concepts, bring information together and apply what they have learnt
- The extent to which students feel they are listened to and have had their feedback acted on
Despite its many flaws, the NSS is widely perceived as being one of the main indicators of the quality of the education provided by institutions across the HE sector and this means our performance is very important. The national league tables have major impact on our ability to recruit good students, both from the UK and overseas, and for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Likewise, whether an institution is rated as Gold, Silver or Bronze in the TEF will impact directly on student recruitment for a university such as ours, as well as determining the level of undergraduate tuition fees.
In the 2016 NSS we recovered some of the ground we lost as a result of the poor outcome in 2015 and much good work has been going on in departments to address issues that were identified from the 2016 outcomes with the aim of improving our ranking back towards the levels the University was at four-five years ago. Most recently this has included asking departments to sign-up to the partnership agreements that set out the actions to be taken to support the promotion of the 2017 NSS and to make sure that students are aware that their feedback has been listened to and how it has been acted on.
In recent years we have had a response rate of about 72%, compared with the national figure of about 74%. Our aim this year is to obtain a good level of response, above the national average, early in the process so that our students are not being repeatedly contacted by Ipsos (the company running the NSS) while they are preparing for their finals and not feeling inclined to give time to providing a thoughtful set of answers.
Professor Jon Scott – Pro-Vice-Chancellor with special responsibility for Student Experience
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