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The requested information must be submitted to Ipsos MORI by Friday 23 November 2012.

Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

1. This letter announces the plans for the 2013 National Student Survey (NSS), and the action required from all institutions by Friday 23 November 2012. It also provides further information about outcomes from earlier surveys and general features of the survey.

2. Detailed guidance relating to the 2013 NSS and the action required is at Annex A for higher education institutions (HEIs), and Annexes B and C for further education colleges (FECs).

Actions for institutions

3. All directly funded FECs and HEIs should review, and update if necessary, their relevant NSS institutional contact details. This information should be supplied to Ipsos MORI by Friday 23 November 2012 using the ‘My Details’ form, which is available on the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet at This is a password-protected site and login details will be sent to NSS nominated contacts by Ipsos MORI at the end of October.

4. All institutions should populate their 2013 NSS target lists with the requested contact details for students on these lists and supply them to Ipsos MORI, also by Friday 23 November 2012.

5. Instructions on how to supply this information are included in the NSS 2013 Guidance for Institutions and Students’ Unions, which will be sent to institutional contacts on Friday 26 October 2012 and will also be available on the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet. The guidance includes information regarding appropriate promotion of the survey.

Results of the 2012 NSS

6. The 2012 NSS results have been published on the Unistats web-site,, with more detailed results available to institutions via the Ipsos MORI NSS results site, The results are once again very positive, and demonstrate that universities and colleges provide a high-quality experience for their students. The overall satisfaction rate for 2012 was 85 per cent in the UK.

7. Approximately 287,000 students completed the survey this year. This is an increase of over 20,000 respondents, and takes the response rate to 67 per cent, the highest rate the NSS has achieved in its eight years. A total of 154 HEIs and 106 FECs across the UK took part.

Publication of time series

8. In April 2011, we published a five-year time series, covering the period between 2006 and 2010, of the overall scores for the higher education sector: ‘National Student Survey: findings and trends 2006 to 2010’ (HEFCE 2011/11). We intend to publish these data annually, providing details of satisfaction scores disaggregated by student and course characteristics.  We hope to have the 2011 results published by the end of the year.

NSS 2013

9. The NSS will be repeated in 2013 across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, in collaboration with the National Union of Students. Ipsos MORI will continue to manage the survey process, and the 2013 NSS will have a similar format and timetable to the 2012 survey.

10. The survey questionnaire will remain the same as for the 2012 NSS. But having completed the survey, students on first degree programmes will be invited to take part in a separate ‘click through’ survey asking them about their intentions following graduation. This will be asked of online respondents only. Assuming response rates to this second survey are good, we expect to repeat the survey in subsequent years in order to help us understand changing attitudes towards postgraduate study.

11. Ipsos MORI will continue to facilitate a centrally managed scheme on behalf of institutions to encourage students to take part in the survey.

12. Ipsos MORI will liaise directly with NSS contacts at institutions regarding further details of the 2013 NSS, options for timing, adding optional questions and marketing materials. As with the 2012 survey, institutions will be able to select one of five starting weeks for their survey, between 7 January and 4 February 2013.

13. I would like to thank all those responsible for the ongoing success of the NSS. It continues to be an invaluable tool in gathering students’ views about their experience of higher education, and in helping institutions to continue to improve their provision according to their students’ needs. We are committed to working with all our stakeholders to ensure that the 2013 survey maintains an impressive response rate.

Yours sincerely


Sir Alan Langlands

Chief Executive

Date: 10 October 2012

Ref: Circular letter 24/2012

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

Of interest to those
responsible for:

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

Enquiries should be directed to:

Alison Felton, tel 0117 931 7078, e-mail