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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

2017 National Student Survey: Publication of data

1. This letter provides information on the timetable for institutions to be able to access their 2017 National Student Survey (NSS) results via the dissemination site and also the publication on the Unistats website.

2. The timetable for access and publication will be as follows.


2017 NSS results

28 July

Stage 1

Institutions will be able to access their own detailed 2017 NSS data on the Texunatech NSS results site.

4 August

Stage 2

Institutions will be able to access the public datasets on the Texunatech NSS results site.

9 August

HEFCE website will publish 2017 NSS results.

4 September

Update of Unistats, including new 2017 NSS dataset.

3. More technical detail on the dissemination site release is available in the NSS results website newsletter issued by Texuna to NSS contacts on 4 May 2017. To view further information about the NSS 2017 results publication, visit

4. All NSS data is subject to strict embargo until Wednesday 9August 2017.

5. Our communications will make clear that the 2017 survey has new and revised questions, and that the 2017 results will therefore be different from previous years.

6. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all participating institutions for their commitment and contribution to the launch of the new NSS this year.

Publication of the 2017 NSS results on the NSS dissemination site

7. Institutions will be able to access their own detailed 2017 NSS data, including student open comments, on the Texunatech NSS results site from Friday 28 July. This data, which will be available at a lower publication threshold than the public data, can only be viewed by the institution concerned. Further details of how to access the data will be provided to the institution’s NSS contact closer to the time.

8. From Friday 4 August, institutions will be able to access a preview of the institutional benchmarks we plan to include for Question 27 (the overall satisfaction question), together with public data reports and custom data analysis for all institutions. This data, which will be available at a higher publication threshold than the data released on Friday 28 July, will be accessible by all institutions.

9. We will publish the 2017 NSS results on Wednesday 9 August. This data, which will be available at the higher publication threshold applied to the release to institutions on 4 August, will include sector summary data as well as subject-level data for all institutions with publishable data.

10. NSS results accessed through the dissemination site will remain under embargo until 9 August.

Publication of the 2017 NSS results on the Unistats website

11. In September 2017, Unistats will undergo its annual update to display data for courses starting in 2018-19, with a view to informing decision-making by prospective students. As part of this, 2017 NSS data will be displayed on the Unistats website together with the updated Unistats dataset, which this year will be revised to reflect the results of the review of information for students and to incorporate the results from Year 2 of the Teaching Excellence Framework. We set out the changes to be made in 2017 in ‘Unistats: Data collection timetable and changes for 2017’ (HEFCE Circular letter 04/2017).

12. As set out in this HEFCE Circular letter 04/2017, as part of the preview stage of the Unistats data collection process, from early July institutions will be able to view the 2017 NSS results that will figure on Unistats. This NSS data is accessible before the release of detailed institutional data from 28 July described in paragraph 7. It remains under embargo until 9 August.

13. The data on the Unistats website will be available for public access from Monday 4 September 2017.

Determining the data to be released and published

14. We are currently considering the ways in which we could support the use of 2017 NSS data, taking into account the characteristics of the new survey dataset that will be finalised during May.

15. In previous years, where data has not met the response threshold, we have aggregated it, including with previous years’ data. As the 2017 questionnaire has changed substantially, robust aggregation with previous years at question level is not possible. We are, however, testing alternative approaches to this, with a view to supporting the use of data by institutions, while ensuring its publication in a robust way that is meaningful to students.

16. We intend to discuss the options for this with sector representative bodies and the Student Information Advisory Group, which now oversees our work in this area, during May and June. We will then finalise the approach through agreement between the funding bodies and we will communicate the outcome of this process, including its implications for the release and publication of 2017 NSS data, in a further circular letter in early July.

Changes to the NSS for 2017

17. We have started to evaluate the impact of NSS 2017 by running a short online evaluation survey with students after they have answered the primary survey. An evaluation survey with institutions is also planned for autumn 2017. We are aware that this has been a particularly challenging year for the operation of NSS and we would welcome advice on improvements for the future. 

Further information

18. If you have any queries regarding the release and publication of the NSS results, you should contact HEFCE (email For the NSS results site 2017, contact Texunatech (email For Unistats data collection queries, higher education institutions, Welsh further education institutes and alternative providers should contact the Higher Education Statistics Agency (email, tel 0124 221 1144), and English further education colleges should contact HEFCE (email

19. Should you have any queries about the content of this letter please contact Julia Moss, tel 0117 931 7054, email, or Davina Benton, tel 0117 931 7480, email

Yours sincerely

Chris Millward

Director (Policy)


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Date: 24 May 2017

Ref: Circular letter 15/2017

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of universities in Northern Ireland, Heads of Scottish higher education institutions, Heads of other higher education providers participating in the NSS

Of interest to those
responsible for:

The National Student Survey, Quality assessment and learning and teaching development, Planning, The student experience

Enquiries should be directed to:

Julia Moss, tel 0117 9317054, email, or Davina Benton, tel 0117 931 7480, email