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23 January 2006

2006 National Student Survey

Second national student survey gets under way

Following the success of the first National Student Survey (NSS), the second survey is now under way to gather the views of students about the quality of their higher education experience. Demonstrating the growing interest in the survey, this year it will embrace three universities in Scotland.

The new Chair of the NSS steering group, University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur, said:

'This is a unique and valuable survey, giving students a high profile, collective voice about the quality of their experience in higher education, and the opportunity to have a real impact.

'As well as providing tomorrow's students with detailed information to help them make choices, it is also encouraging universities to further enhance the quality of their learning and teaching.'

The NSS is designed primarily to inform prospective students and their advisers in choosing what and where to study, and collects information from final year undergraduates. The 2005 survey covered institutions in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This year, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, St Andrews University and the independent University of Buckingham are also taking part. Students on initial teacher training courses funded by the Training and Development Agency for Schools will also be invited to complete the survey for the first time this year.

Bill Rammell, Minister for higher education, said:

'I am delighted that the second national student survey is now underway. First hand feedback from graduates has proved invaluable in helping prospective students and their advisers make informed choices. Higher education should be an investment for students, so it is vital they know that the decisions they make offer them the best value for their money as well as bringing about further improvements in the quality of colleges and universities. This survey is a powerful tool for bringing about change and performance improvement.'

Ipsos MORI (Note 1) is currently contacting students to invite them to take part, and many institutions and student unions are actively encouraging their students to 'leave their mark' by completing the survey. Students can also respond directly by going to The NSS is supported by the National Union of Students (NUS). Julian Nicholds, Vice-President Education, NUS, said:

'The National Student Survey is an excellent tool for current students to feed back on their institution and their experiences. The success of last year's survey shows that students really value the opportunity to do this.

'Those wanting to go into higher education have a lot to consider, from which course to take to working out their finances. The survey offers a way for current students to guide prospective students through that, at times bewildering, decision-making process.

'The burden on students of completing the survey is minimal - it only takes about five minutes to complete - this is time well spent as it provides huge benefits for prospective students'. We'd therefore encourage students and their institutions to put as much as possible into the survey so that it can continue to be a valuable resource for those making tough choices about their future.'

This is the second year of the NSS. In 2005, 60 per cent of students - more than 170,000 - completed the questionnaire. The results are available at and are already helping to inform potential students and their advisers on what and where to study. The results are also an important tool for helping universities and colleges to assess and improve their performance. By having a two-year data set, more information will be available to students and HEIs from summer 2006.


1.    Ipsos MORI is the independent market research company employed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to conduct the survey on its behalf.

2.    A report on the analysis of the 2005 results, linking students' perceptions with a range of demographic and other data, will be published during April 2006.

3.    The NSS is commissioned by HEFCE, HEFCW and DEL. Scotland is not currently involved nationally, however from 2006 three Scottish institutions, and the independent University of Buckingham will also be taking part on a voluntary basis. The Training and Development Agency for Schools has asked that the initial teacher training students it funds are also surveyed this year.

4.    The 2005 NSS had a 60 per cent response rate, with over 170,000 final year students taking part. Of these 80 per cent were satisfied overall with their courses.

Questions on the NSS cover the following topics:

  • the teaching on my course
  • assessment and feedback
  • academic support
  • organisation and management
  • learning resources
  • personal development
  • overall satisfaction.

5.    The results of the National Student Survey are published as part of the Teaching Quality Information web-site which brings together key sources of official information about the quality of higher education in UK universities and colleges.

6.    The National Student Survey is overseen by a steering group chaired by Professor Michael Arthur, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. Professor Arthur took over the chairmanship of the steering group in January 2006 from Professor Gillian Slater, former Vice-Chancellor of Bournemouth University.