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An applicants guide to the National Student Survey (NSS).

The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual survey of UK final year undergraduate students studying at publicly funded UK universities. Students are asked a series of questions about their whole experience of studying their chosen course, covering topics including: the quality of teaching, assessment and feedback, facilities and resources, the extent to which the student ‘voice’ is heard and the way the course is organised and managed. 

Why should applicants be interested in NSS results?

When researching where to study, NSS results provide a helpful, quantitative overview of student opinions to support your decision making. Although you can’t access qualitative student comments, you can readily access  the summary data that will allow you to understand how final students viewed the following categories: 

  • Teaching
  • Learning opportunities
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Academic support
  • Organisation and management
  • Learning resources
  • Student voice

There are also optional questions that will vary by provider. Within each of the above categories there are several subsidiary questions. So for example, under ‘Academic Support’ you will find questions around whether it is easy to contact staff when needed and whether staff have supported student learning. Each NSS question will have a percentage score associated with it, together with the sample size (number of students who responded to that question at that institution). 

How can I view the NSS data to help my decision making?

Researching The NSS is administered by the UK Government Office for Students. Here you can view and download all NSS data if you want to really geek out over the detailed NSS data! However, for a more user-friendly experience, we recommend searching for your chosen course on the UK Government Discover University, where you can select your chosen institution and course and view NSS results for all questions. The Discover Uni website also provides a host of other useful information associated with your chosen course, including entry requirements, employment prospects, accreditations etc. 

How useful are NSS data in choosing where to study?

NSS data should be viewed as one of multiple tools to aid your decision making when choosing where to study. You should remember that NSS data is very much ‘summary’ data and does not include, for example, overseas students studying in the UK or part time students. We recommend that you supplement looking at NSS data with other rankings information and of course there is no substitute for talking with current students studying at your chosen institution, so make sure you head to the Your Student Voice Forum and get connected to current students!


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