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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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This report outlines the findings of a programme of cognitive testing work for questions commissioned as part of the review of the National Student Survey (NSS). The review aims to explore the purpose of the NSS both now and in the future, its effectiveness and how it might change to meet its purposes more effectively.

The testing used cognitive interview techniques to explore systematically students’ reactions to potential questions for a new National Student Survey, including whether the questions were understood. This included existing NSS questions, amended questions and new questions, on topics including student engagement.

Three phases of cognitive testing were conducted with 105 students across 13 UK universities and colleges between October 2014 and May 2015.

This research report is one of a series of reports published alongside the consultation on the review of information about learning and teaching and the student experience.

Date: 1 October 2015

Ref: Independent research