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information should be supplied to Ipsos MORI by Friday 28 November 2014.

Dear Head of Provider

Plans for the National Student Survey 2015

1. This letter announces the plans for the 2015 National Student Survey (NSS), and the action requested from all institutions by Friday 28 November 2014. 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 requested 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, HEIs and participating alternative providers are asked to review, and update if necessary, their relevant NSS institutional contact details. This information should be supplied to Ipsos MORI by Friday 28 November 2014 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 2015 NSS target lists with the requested contact details for students on these lists and supply them to Ipsos MORI, also by Friday 28 November 2014.

5. Instructions on how to supply this information were included in the NSS 2014 ‘Guidance for institutions and students’ unions’, which was sent to institutional contacts on Wednesday 23 October 2014 and is also available on the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet. The guidance includes information regarding appropriate promotion of the survey.

Results of the 2014 NSS

6. The 2014 NSS results have been published on the Unistats web-site, with more detailed results available to institutions via the Texunatech 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. We have again seen the sector respond to student feedback with improvements not only in overall satisfaction, now at 86 percent, but in ‘The teaching on my course,’ ‘Academic support,’ and ‘Learning resources.’

7. Approximately 321,449 students completed the survey this year. This is an increase of over 17,000 respondents, and takes the response rate to 70 per cent, the highest rate the NSS has achieved in its 10 years.

NSS 2015

8. The NSS will be administered in 2015 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 2015 NSS will have a similar format and timetable to the 2014 survey.

9. The survey questionnaire will remain the same as for the 2014 NSS. As in 2013, on completing the survey students on first degree programmes will be invited to take part in a separate ‘click through’ survey asking them about their intentions after graduation. This will be asked of online respondents only.

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

11. Ipsos MORI will liaise directly with NSS contacts at institutions regarding further details of the 2014 NSS. This will include selecting options for timing, the addition of optional questions and requests for marketing materials. As with the 2014 survey, institutions will be able to select one of five starting weeks for their survey.

12. 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 enhance their provision. We are committed to working with all our stakeholders to ensure that the 2015 survey maintains an impressive response rate.

NSS review

13. You may be aware that the Funders of the NSS have been undertaking a review of the NSS which recently produced the following reports:

  1. UK review of the provision of information about higher education: National Student Survey results and trends analysis 2005-2013 (HEFCE 2014/13).
  2. Review of the National Student Survey.

Throughout the summer and early autumn the Funding Bodies have been speaking with organisations involved in the NSS about the findings to inform our response to the research. The Funding Councils’ response including next steps can be found on the HEFCE website. It is expected that any developments to the survey will be implemented from 2017.

14. Thank you for your continued participation and active engagement with the National Student Survey.

Yours sincerely

Chris Millward

Director (Policy) 

Date: 30 October 2014

Ref: Circular letter 30/2014

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 higher education

Of interest to those
responsible for:

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

Enquiries should be directed to: