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About the NSS

Aimed at mainly final-year undergraduates, the National Student Survey (NSS) gathers opinions from students about their time in higher education, asking them to provide honest feedback on what it has been like to study on their course at their university/college. 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/college for current and prospective students.

The NSS asks 27 questions, relating to eight aspects of the student experience. In addition, students studying NHS funded courses will be asked questions about their placements. If you are a student on a degree apprenticeship or a higher apprenticeship at levels 6 or 7 you may be asked some questions about your training programme. Students also have the opportunity to make positive and/or negative comments in an open-ended question.

Universities/colleges may choose up to six banks of optional questions and may include up to two additional questions specific to the provider. Providers are asked to agree with Students' Unions their choice of optional banks of questions for inclusion.

The Intentions After Graduation survey (IAGS) asks final year students undertaking an undergraduate qualification about their plans after graduating from their current course which takes a few minutes to complete. 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 current publication threshold for the NSS results is a 50 per cent response rate with at least 10 students responding. All results that meet the publication threshold will be published through the Unistats website. Data will also be published on the OfS website including benchmark data.

The survey is completed by final year students at all publicly funded Higher Education universities/colleges in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, as well as all Alternative Providers (APs) in England with specific course designation for new students. Further Education Colleges (FECs) in England and Northern Ireland, and Further Education institutions (FEIs) in Wales with directly funded higher education students are eligible to participate.

The NSS is commissioned by the Office for Students (OfS), on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), the Department for Economy Northern Ireland (DfENI), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Health Education England (HEE) and participating private/alternative Higher Education providers.

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 university/college.

Who benefits from the NSS?

Current students

Student feedback from the NSS provides universities/colleges with a picture of what the learning experience has been like for students completing their courses in that year. Providers and Students' Unions (Association or Guild) examine the anonymised NSS data internally to identify areas of strength and weakness. This information can be used to help make changes designed to improve the learning experience for both current and prospective students. More widely, the NSS provides information as part of the higher education quality assurance system.

Prospective students

The NSS results are made publicly available to help prospective students make informed decisions about where and what to study. NSS results are made available and published annually on the Unistats website. Universities and colleges use the results to improve the student learning experience. This official site allows prospective students to compare information across higher education courses and universities/colleges.

For more information as well as help with specific queries, please see our FAQs:

Frequently Asked Questions for Students
Frequently Asked Questions for Universities and Colleges
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