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Student satisfaction with teaching is high, with 85 per cent of students agreeing that teaching staff are good at explaining things and make the subject interesting, and that they are intellectually stimulated and challenged to achieve their best work.

This year’s National Student Survey (NSS) gives fresh insights into student engagement, with new questions on the learning community, learning opportunities and the student voice. The survey was revised in consultation with UK universities and colleges and their students. Its new and updated questions gather evidence that has not previously been available nationally.

In the new areas introduced in 2017, 84 per cent of students agree that they are provided with learning opportunities such as exploring ideas in depth and applying what they have learnt. Some 77 per cent agree that they feel part of a learning community and have the right opportunities to work with other students.

As a result of the changes to the survey, it is not valid to compare the 2017 responses with those in previous years.

The results of the survey, conducted on behalf of the UK funding bodies, are used by higher education providers to improve students’ academic experience. The inclusion of student engagement questions this year sheds new light on areas for development.

The results will also provide valuable evidence to inform students’ choices about where and what to study, and will be published for this purpose on the Unistats website.

The 2017 survey covered 530 universities and colleges, an increase from previous years, with substantially more alternative providers of higher education taking part.

Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:

‘The NSS continues to be the largest and most authoritative survey of its kind in the UK. Its role in gathering crucial evidence about the student experience in higher education has been enhanced this year by new questions on student engagement and updated questions to reflect the latest approaches to learning and teaching. The 2017 results show that students provide particularly positive feedback on the quality of teaching and on learning opportunities. Institutions will also, however, be considering carefully how they can continue to improve assessment and feedback, and their broader engagement with students’.

Professor Sir David Bell, Chair of the Student Information Advisory Group, said:

‘These excellent results show that our universities and colleges continue to offer a high-quality experience for their students. The National Student Survey is instrumental in driving improvements across an increasingly diverse higher education sector. It also plays a key role in supporting student choice. The revised survey which has been run in 2017 offers new insights on student engagement, a crucial component of a successful experience in higher education.’

A summary table of results for the UK is shown below. More detailed data is available through the HEFCE website. Prospective students will be able to compare NSS results and other relevant information on the Unistats website from September.

Notes

  1. The NSS covers nearly all final-year undergraduates studying for higher education qualifications at higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges in England and Wales, and HEIs in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The survey is funded by the four UK higher education funding bodies (the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland), the National College of Teaching and Leadership and Health Education England. HEIs in Scotland and participating alternative providers fund their own participation in the survey.
  2. The threshold for publication at each institution is that at least 10 students must have responded, and that these should represent at least half the students eligible to participate. Twelve HEIs did not secure the response rate necessary for their data to be published at institutional level. There is, however, publishable data for subject areas within these HEIs, which will be made available on Unistats.
  3. Following consultation and extensive testing, the National Student Survey 2017 includes 10 new questions on ‘teaching on my course’, ‘learning opportunities’, and ‘learning community ’and ‘student voice’. It also revises the wording of nine further questions on ‘learning resources’, ‘organisation and management’, ‘academic support’ and ‘assessment and feedback’.
  4. As a result of these changes, it is not valid to compare question-level responses from 2017 with those from 2016 or previous years and such comparisons should not be undertaken. We do not endorse any presentations of the data which compare or aggregate question-level data in this way. We are seeking advice from the Office for National Statistics Methodology Group on our own aggregation at the level of themes, which adjusts for differences between the datasets. Further details are available at www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/nss/.
  5. The Unistats website will be updated with the 2017 NSS results in September. Unistats is the official site to search for and compare data and information on university and college courses from across the UK. The site draws together comparable information on those areas that students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The data are provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Skills Funding Agency, the Welsh Government, universities and colleges and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey).
  6. In the results described above, agreement with a statement is taken to apply to those who responded that they ‘definitely’ or ‘mostly’ agreed with the statement. 
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