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National Student Survey: Procedures for investigating allegations of inappropriate influence on survey results

The National Student Survey (NSS) collects data about student experiences of their higher education course and is a valuable source of information for both institutions and for prospective students.

It is therefore important to ensure the integrity and robustness of the NSS data. Users of the data need to be assured that students who complete the survey have not been influenced by their institution, or any other parties, to respond in a matter that does not wholly reflect their true opinion.

HEFCE is responsible for managing the process on behalf of the UK higher education funding bodies to investigate concerns that students have been inappropriately influenced. Where students or any other party have concerns, these may be raised directly with HEFCE via Where the concern relates to an institution outside England, HEFCE will liaise with the relevant funding body. 

The process that will be followed by the funding bodies is set out in full in the Allegations procedure.

Download the Allegations procedure

Download the NSS Allegations procedure as PDF (408 KB)

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) has published the Allegations procedure in Welsh (Cymraeg).

The procedures are underpinned by good practice guidance provided to institutions by the survey agency Ipsos MORI.

Student summary

A one-page guide for students is also available. This sets out what is meant by inappropriate influence and provides clear signposting students about how concerns may be raised.

Broader NSS data integrity concerns

Concerns about other aspects of NSS data integrity may be raised and resolved through other routes, depending on the nature of the issue. These are presented below, but may be subject to change after 1 April 2018.

Use and publication of NSS resultsPersonal interest disclosuresInstitutional data amendments or errors

Concerns about the use of data by institutions should be directed to the Advertising Standards Authority or the Competition and Markets Authority.

Concerns about financial irregularity and impropriety, waste and fraud at funded institutions should be routed to the appropriate funder or regulator.

In the case of HEFCE, concerns should be routed through HEFCE’s public interest disclosure process.

HEFCE uses a number of different data sources. Sometimes institutions request that this data be amended. HEFCE’s Data amendments panel assesses all proposed amendments and judges whether the identified errors are widespread and significant enough to require action.

For NSS, HEFCE assesses these amendments on behalf of the UK funding bodies.

Page last updated 18 January 2018