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All directly funded further education colleges, higher education institutions and participating alternative providers should review their relevant contact details by Friday 27 November 2015.

Dear Head of Provider

Plans for the National Student Survey 2016

1. This letter announces the plans for the 2016 National Student Survey (NSS), and the action requested from all institutions by Friday 27 November 2015. It also provides further information about outcomes of earlier surveys and general features of the survey.

2. You will find detailed guidance relating to the 2016 NSS and the action requested in Annex A for higher education institutions (HEIs) and alternative providers (APs), and Annexes B and C for further education colleges (FECs).

Actions for institutions

3. All directly funded FECs, HEIs and participating APs are asked to review, and update, if necessary, their relevant NSS institutional contact details. The information should be supplied to Ipsos MORI no later than Friday 27 November 2015 using the ‘My Details’ form, available on the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet or This is a password-protected site, and Ipsos MORI has sent login details to the nominated main and secondary NSS contacts.

4. All institutions should populate their 2016 NSS sample templates with the requested contact details for students on their target list. Details should be supplied to Ipsos MORI by Friday 27 November 2015 via the ‘Upload Sample Data’ section of the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet.

5. Instructions on how to supply this information are included in the NSS 2016 ‘Guidance for institutions and students’ unions’, which was sent to institutional contacts on Thursday 22 October 2015 and is now available on the Ipsos MORI NSS extranet. The guidance includes information regarding survey administration, appropriate promotion of the survey and key responsibilities and dates.

Results of the 2015 NSS

6. Approximately 302,100 students completed the survey this year, taking the response rate to 71 per cent, the highest rate the NSS has achieved in its 11 year lifespan under Ipsos MORI.

NSS 2016

7. The NSS will be administered in 2016 across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, in collaboration with the National Union of Students. Ipsos MORI will continue to manage the survey, and the 2016 NSS will have a similar format and timetable to the 2015 survey.

8. The 2016 survey questionnaire will remain the same as 2015. On completing the survey, students completing 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 offered to online respondents only.

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

10. Ipsos MORI will liaise directly with NSS contacts at institutions regarding further details for the 2016 NSS. This will include selecting optional questions, incentive schemes and requests for marketing materials. As with the 2015 survey, institutions will also be able to select one of five starting weeks for their survey.

11. The NSS continues to be instrumental in gathering students’ views about their experience of higher education, and in helping institutions to continue to enhance the quality of the courses they provide. HEFCE, on behalf of all four UK higher education funding bodies, is committed to working with Ipsos MORI and all stakeholders to ensure that the 2016 survey maintains an impressive response rate.

NSS review

12. HEFCE on behalf of the four higher education funding bodies, is undertaking a review of the NSS for 2017. This forms part of a wider review of information about learning and teaching, and the student experience. Research that underpins the review can be found at

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

Yours sincerely,

Chris Millward

Director (Policy)

Date: 20 November 2015

Ref: Circular letter 26/2015

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

Julia Moss, tel 0117 931 7253, email