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23 August 2006

Students continue to be very satisfied with teaching and give higher rating to learning resources

The results of the second National Student Survey (NSS) show that around 80 per cent of students are satisfied with their higher education courses, similar to the results of the 2005 survey. [Note 1]

Of the six broad areas of learning and teaching covered in the survey, there has been an improvement over last year in the level of satisfaction with resources provided by universities and colleges. A total of 79 per cent of students definitely or mostly agreed that the library meets their needs, and that IT and specialised resources are readily accessible, compared with 77 per cent in 2005.

The NSS is part of the Teaching Quality Information web-site (www.tqi.ac.uk).

Professor Michael Arthur, Chair of the TQI/NSS Steering Group, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said:

'The NSS continues to provide a unique and valuable resource for tomorrow's students, as well as our universities and colleges. We're delighted that 157,000 students took part in this year's survey, and that once again they voiced a high level of satisfaction with their education.
'I am also pleased to see the positive response made by institutions to the results of last year's survey, and the wide range of initiatives and improvements that have been introduced in the wake of its findings.'
'The NSS has encouraged higher education institutions to work closely with their students to improve the teaching and learning experience for all - both staff and students. It has proved its worth, and we look forward to building on its successes.'

Bill Rammell MP, DfES, Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, said:

'I welcome another set of strong results from the National Student Survey. Choosing a higher education institution can be a daunting task, and it is vital that students can access the best possible information to inform their choices. The NSS, together with the rest of the TQI web-site, provides a valuable resource for students to draw upon when deciding which institution is right for them. It is also a powerful tool for institutional improvement.'

Wes Streeting, Vice-President (Education), National Union of Students, said:

'The National Student Survey provides an invaluable service for future students, based on the views of the people who know - existing students.
'The fact that so many students responded to the survey is fantastic news. Not only does it show that current students support the survey and recognise its worth, but it also means the survey provides wide-ranging and comprehensive information.
'The NSS is also key in fostering closer working relationships between students' unions and their institutions, allowing them to work together towards improving the student experience year on year.'

The National Student Survey

The second NSS was carried out in the spring of 2006 and 56 per cent of final year students responded (see note 6). The results show that over 30 per cent definitely agreed and 50 per cent mostly agreed that overall they were satisfied with the quality of their course; only 10 per cent mostly or definitely disagreed.

As well as providing useful information for prospective students, the NSS data show universities and colleges how they can improve the quality of the student experience. A wide range of innovations and improvements were spurred by the results of last year's survey, including new facilities and student support schemes; extended opening hours for libraries and other services; new assessment and feedback systems, and more effective student consultation procedures.

Responding to 22 questions in the NSS, covering six main areas of learning and teaching, responses indicated high levels of satisfaction. For example:

  • 'The course is intellectually stimulating' (81 per cent definitely or mostly agree)
  • 'My communications skills have improved' (79 per cent definitely or mostly agree)
  • 'Staff are enthusiastic about what they are doing' (80 per cent definitely or mostly agree)
  • 'I have been able to contact staff when I needed to' (77 per cent definitely or mostly agree).

The satisfaction level was based on responses from over 157,000 students in their final year (note 6). This represents 56 per cent of the 279,000 eligible students at 145 higher education institutions. Some 129 institutions achieved a return rate higher than 50 per cent, with the highest at 80 per cent.

The Teaching Quality Information web-site

The TQI web-site helps prospective students make choices about what and where to study. It was launched in 2005, and recent improvements will make the site easier to use. Further major improvements will be made in 2007, including closer links with the UCAS applications web-site. The TQI site brings together a range of official, impartial, and up-to-date information about the quality of education offered by universities and colleges, including:

Statistics:

  • data on students' entry qualifications, their continuation through their studies, awards achieved and the types of jobs obtained after graduation.

National Student Survey results:

  • students' feedback ratings on key aspects of their education, such as academic support and learning resources.

Subject reports:

  • reports and information published by each institution about the quality and standards of awards in specific subjects.

The site provides this information for each subject offered by each institution, and also allows users to generate side-by-side comparisons across several institutions at a time.

Notes to editors

1.   The percentages used in this press release relate to full-time students. The proportion of part-time students who took part in this year's survey is lower than last year which means that the total of full and part-time students is not comparable for 2005 and 2006. Data for part-time students are however, available from HEFCE and will be on the TQI web-site.

2.   The National Student Survey (NSS) is part of the Teaching Quality Information web-site which was launched in September 2005. The NSS covers higher education students 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, as are students on initial teacher training courses funded by the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

3.   The NSS was carried out by Ipsos MORI. The data are available on the TQI web-site which is developed and maintained by HERO Ltd.

4.   The TQI web-site brings together key sources of official information about the quality of UK higher education. It is part of an initiative to make more information available to applicants and their advisers, and will help prospective students make better informed decisions about what and where to study.

5.   Due to differences in quality assurance arrangements in different parts of the UK, some types of information are not published for all institutions.

6.   Most students who were near the end of undergraduate courses (bachelors degrees, foundation degrees, higher education certificates and diplomas) were invited to take part, totalling 279,000 full-time and part-time students. A very small proportion of part-time students who completed the survey may not have been in their final year. The selection of students invited to take part was the same for all institutions, using data collected centrally by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

7.   Students responded to questions on the quality of teaching on their own particular courses. Courses were then grouped into 41 different subject areas.