About the NSS
The NSS is a high-profile census of nearly half a million students across the UK, which has been conducted annually since 2005.
Aimed at mainly final-year undergraduates, it gathers opinions from students about their experience of their courses, asking them to provide honest feedback on what it has been like to study on their course at their institution. It is an influential source of public information about higher education and gives students a powerful collective voice to help shape the future of their course and their university or college.
The NSS asks 23 questions, relating to six aspects of the learning experience, including one question about overall student satisfaction and one question about satisfaction with the students' union, association or guild. Students are also given the opportunity to make positive and negative comments about their learning experience. For more information about what is asked in the NSS, please see The National Student Survey Questionnaire.
The NSS is a widely recognised authoritative survey. The results are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website. The NSS has helped to build a broader picture of the quality of higher education in the UK and has made it possible to monitor trends over time.
The survey is completed by students at all publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, as well as other providers of higher education. Further Education Colleges (FECs) in England and Further Education Institutions (FEIs) in Wales with directly funded higher education students are eligible to participate.
The NSS is commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DELNI), the Scottish Funding Council, Health Education England and the other funders.
The NSS is undertaken independently by Ipsos MORI. The survey respects the privacy of those taking part, and as such individual responses are confidential and at no point will students be identified to their institution.
Who benefits from the NSS?
Student feedback from the NSS provides institutions with a picture of what the learning experience was like for students completing their course in that year. Institutions and students' unions examine the anonymised NSS data internally to identify areas of strength and weakness. This information can be used to help effect changes designed to improve the student experience for both current and prospective students. More widely, the NSS provides information as part of the higher education quality assurance system.
The NSS results are made publicly available to help prospective students make informed decisions about where and what to study. Data from the NSS are published annually on the Unistats website. This official site allows prospective students to compare information across higher education courses.
For more information as well as help with specific queries, please see our FAQs:Frequently Asked Questions for Students
Frequently Asked Questions for Institutions/Staff