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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

Plans for the National Student Survey 2014

1. This letter announces the plans for the 2014 National Student Survey (NSS), and the action required from all institutions by Friday 22 November 2013. It also provides further information about outcomes from earlier surveys and general features of the survey.

2. Detailed guidance relating to the 2014 NSS and the action required is at Annex A for higher education institutions (HEIs) and alternative providers, and Annexes B and C for further education colleges (FECs).

Actions for institutions

3. All directly funded FECs and HEIs and participating alternative providers should review, and update if necessary, their relevant NSS institutional contact details. This information should be supplied to Ipsos MORI by Friday 22 November 2013 using the ‘My Details’ form, which is available on the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet. This is a password-protected site and login details will be sent to nominated NSS contacts by Ipsos MORI at the end of October.

4. All institutions should populate their 2014 NSS target lists with the requested contact details for students on these lists and supply them to Ipsos MORI, also by Friday 22 November 2013.

5. Instructions on how to supply this information are included in the NSS 2014 ‘Guidance for institutions and students’ unions’, which will be sent to institutional contacts on Friday 25 October 2013 and will also be available on the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet. The guidance includes information regarding appropriate promotion of the survey.

Results of the 2013 NSS

6. The 2013 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 are perceived by students to provide a high-quality experience for their students. The overall satisfaction rate in the UK for 2013 was 85 per cent.

7. Approximately 304,000 students completed the survey this year. This is an increase of over 17,000 respondents, and takes the response rate to 68.6 per cent, the highest rate the NSS has achieved in its eight years. A total of 153 HEIs, 165 FECs and one alternative provider took part, across the UK.

The review of the provision of information about higher education

8. The NSS is currently being reviewed as part of the Review of the Provision of Information about Higher Education. For more information please see the ‘Review of the provision of information about higher education’ pages on our web-site.

NSS 2014

9. The NSS will be administered in 2014 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 2014 NSS will have a similar format and timetable to the 2013 survey.

10. The survey questionnaire will remain the same as for the 2013 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 future years, 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 2014 NSS, options for timing, adding optional questions and marketing materials. As with the 2013 survey, institutions will be able to select one of five starting weeks for their survey, between those commencing Monday 13 January and Monday 10 February 2014.

13. The NSS 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 2014 survey maintains an impressive response rate.

Yours sincerely

Heather Fry

Director (Education, Participation and Students) 

Date: 24 October 2013

Ref: Circular letter 28/2013

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, Heads of participating alternative providers

Of interest to those
responsible for:

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

Enquiries should be directed to: