National Student Survey

The National Student Survey (NSS) gathers opinions on the quality of students' courses. The purpose of this is to contribute to public accountability and help inform the choices of prospective students.

About the survey

The first NSS took place in 2005. The survey takes place annually to build a broader picture and gather data regularly.

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

2012 survey

Results from the 2012 survey show that satisfaction has improved since 2011 in each of its six main categories.


The chart shows percentage figures of students who were definitely or mostly satisfied in response to the questions in the survey.


Among other results, this year’s survey shows:

  • 85 per cent saying are satisfied overall with their course
  • 8 per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their higher education experience
  • only 8 per cent were dissatisfied (figures do not sum due to rounding).

Around 287,000 final-year students responded to the survey this year, an increase of over 20,000 from last year.

About the Results

The results of the NSS are available on the new Unistats web-site.

This site includes 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.

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, all 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.

So far we have commissioned a full analysis of the 2005 survey results and 2006 survey results. An analysis of the 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 Higher Education Public Information Steering Group (HEPISG) oversees the development of public information about HE, including the NSS. This group is 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 Julia Moss, tel 0117 931 7054, e-mail j.moss@hefce.ac.uk.

For further details regarding participation in the survey please contact Ipsos MORI, tel 020 8861 8110, e-mail NSS@ipsos-mori.com.

Page last updated 22 March 2013

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