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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

1. This letter provides information to universities and colleges on the next steps in the 2012 National Student Survey (NSS) process, including a timetable of when they will be able to access their 2012 NSS results via the Ipsos MORI NSS results site and Unistats web-site. No action is required in response.

2. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work on the 2012 NSS. Ipsos MORI surveyed over 286,000 students from a sample size of over 427,000. This represents an overall response rate for the 2012 NSS of 67 per cent, a record for the survey in its eight years of existence.

Publication of the 2012 NSS results: Ipsos MORI/NSS results site

3. On 3 August Ipsos MORI will launch Phase 1 of the NSS results site ( Phase 1 will present institutions’ own detailed NSS data and can only be viewed by the institution concerned. This gives each institution early sight of its data. The agreed NSS contact at each institution will be sent further details closer to the time about how to access the data. On 31 August Ipsos MORI will make available, on the NSS results site, institutions’ detailed students’ comments.

4. On 17 September Ipsos MORI will launch Phase 2 of the NSS results site. This will include all institutions’ comparable data and the custom analysis functionality. The custom analysis function gives each institution the freedom to analyse tailored results for specific cohorts of their own students, as well as publicly available data for all participating institutions. All pre-calculated data tables will be available in Phase 2 at institution, subject and sector level. Sector-wide comparisons will also be available from this date.

Publication of the 2012 NSS results: new Unistats site

5. While the Key Information Set (KIS) was being developed last year, HEFCE indicated that each full KIS would sit on the course pages of universities and colleges. However, this policy has since been revised, and all KIS data will instead be available on the new Unistats web-site from late September 2012 (see HEFCE Circular letter 23/2011).  For some time the full NSS data has been published annually on the existing Unistats web-site and this will continue on its new site.

6. From 17 September there will be a week’s preview period on the new Unistats web-site where institutions will have access to all institutions’ data for the NSS, KIS and Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE).  This is later than in previous years, when institutions have had access to comparative NSS data from early August; the timing has been changed to bring it in line with the launch of the new Unistats web-site. There should be benefits brought by the enhanced information, attractiveness and functionality of the new site.

7. In the week commencing 24 September, the Unistats web-site will be available for public access. There is likely to be a government launch and HEFCE press statement.  HEFCE will write to the sector with a confirmed date in due course. 

Further information

8. As part of the preparations for KIS, when institutions submit KIS data to HEFCE from mid-July they will receive by return a spreadsheet showing that data plus their NSS data for all courses for which they submitted KIS data. However, as stated in paragraph 3, they will not be able to access their NSS results in the usual format until 3 August.

9. If you have any queries regarding the NSS, please contact Ipsos MORI (tel 0208 861 8110, e-mail  For KIS queries from HEFCE-funded HEIs, contact HESA (, tel 01242 211144) and for KIS queries from directly funded FECs, contact

Summary timetable


NSS results site

New Unistats site

3 August

Phase 1 NSS data available:

  • institution’s own data at the publication threshold of 50% response rate and 23 responses (whichever is the larger), at overall institution level and JACS subject levels
  • Institutions’ own detailed data at the lower publication threshold (for internal use)


31 August

Institutions’ own students’ open comments available


17 September

Phase 2 NSS data available:

  • sector JACS subject data
  • custom analysis tool

Preview of full Unistats site including all institutions’ NSS, DLHE and KIS data

w/c 24 September


New Unistats web-site available to the public

Yours sincerely


Sir Alan Langlands

Chief Executive



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Date: 7 June 2012

Ref: Circular letter 16/2012

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Heads of selected Scottish higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

The National Student Survey, Quality assurance and quality enhancement, Planning, The student experience

Enquiries should be directed to:

Ipsos MORI (tel 0208 861 8110, e-mail For KIS queries from HEFCE-funded HEIs, contact HESA (, tel 01242 211144) and for KIS queries from directly funded FECs, contact