National Student Survey

The National Student Survey (NSS) gathers students’ opinions on the quality of their courses. The purpose of this is to contribute to public accountability, help inform the choices of prospective students and provide data that assists institutions in enhancing the student experience.

Review and analysis of the NSS

The first large-scale analysis of the NSS looks at trends in the responses of more than two million final-year students over nine years.

This has been published alongside an independent report on the purpose and effectiveness of the NSS.

About the survey

The first NSS took place in 2005. The survey takes place annually to build a broader picture and gather data regularly.

2013 survey

Results from the 2013 survey demonstrate that satisfaction among students in the UK remains high. Each of the eight assessment categories saw improvements on the 2012 results or remained the same.


The chart shows percentage figures of students who were definitely or mostly satisfied in response to the questions in the survey.

Among other results, this year’s survey shows:

  • 85 per cent of students are satisfied overall with their course
  • 7 per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their higher education experience
  • only 7 per cent were dissatisfied (figures do not sum due to rounding).

Around 304,030 final-year students responded to the survey this year, an increase of over 17,000 from last year.

About the Results

We publish the results of the NSS in August. They are made available to view alongside the key information sets through the Unistats web-site in September.

Unistats includes data on students' entry qualifications, progression through course, degree results, and data showing the types of career and further study that students go on to.

More detailed NSS results are available for institutions and student unions, for internal purposes, via the Ipsos MORI NSS results web-site.

This includes the anonymised qualitative comments, which are not published on the Unistats site.

Currently the NSS is conducted in all HEIs and directly funded FECs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, the Scottish HEIs that have chosen to participate in the NSS and their results are also available on the Unistats web-site.

The Higher Education Public Information Steering Group (HEPISG) oversees the development of public information about HE, including the NSS. This group is chaired by Professor Janet Beer (Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford Brookes).

Enhancing and developing the NSS

In 2010, we published research into enhancing the NSS that concluded the NSS should continue to support the purposes of providing information to assist student choice and of contributing to quality assurance and enhancement. This research was carried out by the Institute of Education and commissioned by the HEPISG.

Following our consultation in November 2010 on 'Public Information about higher Education', the HEPISG agreed that a question on the impact of student unions should be added to the main NSS from 2012, subject to testing with potential students. For more information about this decision see our publication on information about higher education.

The NSS is being reviewed as part of a broader review of the provision of higher education information; further details will be available later in 2013. The new question will be reviewed as part of this process. 

Research into NSS results

We are seeking proposals to conduct research into the results of the NSS. We have established a dedicated research panel to assess these proposals and act as the arbitrator for this research.

Further information

For further information about the NSS please see our Publications and reports section or contact Julia Moss, tel 0117 931 7054, e-mail

Page last updated 12 August 2013

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