The study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of the UK higher education funding bodies [Note 2] also confirms that the NSS provides consistent and robust results.
The analysis reveals a number of interesting insights from the last nine years:
There has been a 39 per cent increase in the proportion of students completing the survey online since 2005. The study also shows that the proportion of students who tick the same answer for every question has gradually increased over time, from 1 per cent in 2005 to 5.4 per cent in 2013. However, these increases have had no effect on the trends in student satisfaction over time [Note 6].
The NSS data can be explored further using an interactive tool available on the HEFCE web-site. [Note 7]
The study findings are published alongside an independent report on the purpose and effectiveness of the NSS [Note 8].
The report concludes that the NSS remains a valued, valid and reliable tool, and that its use has extended from its original purpose to inform student choice about the quality and standards of teaching, to a more profound role in supporting quality enhancement. It makes a number of recommendations for developing the survey, including the addition of student engagement questions and the development of a set of criteria against which existing and future questions could be considered.
Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:
‘The NSS is an invaluable source of intelligence for universities and colleges. It drives curriculum improvement, and enhances the quality of the learning experience for millions of students. It also plays a key role in helping to inform the choices of prospective students.
‘The reports we are publishing today confirm the robustness of the NSS, and the value it adds to UK higher education. HEFCE will now work with the other UK funding bodies, universities and colleges, and students, to make refinements for the future.’
Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and Chair of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group (HEPISG), which has advised on the ongoing development of the NSS, said:
‘I welcome these reports. They not only provide us with a comprehensive source of data and information about the NSS, but also confirm it as a valuable and robust tool for gathering student feedback and driving institutional change.
‘HEPISG and the UK funding bodies will now consider the recommendations in the NSS Review.
‘Any major changes to the NSS will be based on robust piloting and cognitive testing with a view to introducing a revised NSS by 2017.’