National Student Survey

The National Student Survey (NSS) forms part of the revised quality assurance framework (QAF) for higher education (HE). The aim of the survey is to gather opinions on the quality of students' courses in order to contribute to public accountability as well as to help inform the choices of future applicants to HE.

About the survey

The first NSS took place in 2005. The QAF review group has recommended that the survey be run annually for the foreseeable future in order to build a fuller picture and gather data more quickly.

After a competitive tender process Ipsos MORI has been awarded the contract to run the survey until 2013.


The results of the NSS, plus other data on students' entry qualifications, progression through course, degree results, and data showing the types of career and further study that students go on to are available on the Unistats web-site. In addition to the information on the Unistats site, more detailed NSS results are available for institutions and student unions, for internal purposes, via the Ipsos MORI NSS results web-site. This includes the anonymised qualitative comments, which are not published on the Unistats site.

Currently the NSS is conducted in all HEIs and directly funded FECs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, some Scottish HEIs have chosen to participate in the NSS and their results are also available on the Unistats web-site.

An initial analysis of responses from the 2005 and 2006 NSS showed confidence in the robustness of the data. Paula Surridge, from the University of Bristol, was commissioned to undertake a full analysis of the 2005 survey results, 2006 survey results and 2007 survey results: 'The National Student Survey 2005-2007: Findings and trends' was published in July 2008.

We publish findings and trends from the NSS on an annual basis. The latest report is available below:

The development of public information about HE, including the NSS, is overseen by the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group (HEPISG), chaired by Professor Janet Beer (Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford Brookes).

Enhancing and developing the NSS

In 2010, we published research into enhancing the NSS that concluded the NSS should continue to support the purposes of providing information to assist student choice and of contributing to quality assurance and enhancement. This research was carried out by the Institute of Education and commissioned by the HEPISG.

Following our consultation in November 2010 on 'Public Information about higher Education', the HEPISG agreed that a question on the impact of student unions should be added to the main NSS from 2012, subject to testing with potential students.

The new question will be added as Question 23 and will be reviewed in the 2015 ten year NSS review. For more information about this decision see our publication on information about higher education.

Research into NSS results

We are seeking proposals to conduct research into the results of the NSS. We have established a dedicated research panel to assess these proposals and act as the arbitrator for this research.

Further information

Further information is available from Alison Felton, tel 0117 931 7078, e-mail

For further details regarding participation in the survey please contact Ipsos MORI, tel 020 8861 8110, e-mail

Page last updated 21 July 2011

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