View all news

In-depth analysis of National Student Survey published

Press release issued: 16 November 2006

HEFCE-commissioned research, analysed by a sociologist at the University of Bristol, has explored in detail how student, course and institution characteristics influenced the results of the National Student Survey.

Students who participated in the 2005 National Student Survey (NSS) were positive about all aspects of teaching quality, but research commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and published today, has explored in detail how student, course and institution characteristics influence the results of the NSS.

The research, by Paula Surridge from the University of Bristol, is a major step forward in understanding the outcomes of the survey which helps students choose where to study.  It provides information on the details of the NSS questionnaire and analytical groupings, including the methodology used.  This  will support further analysis and policy development into the student learning and teaching experience. 

Key findings and areas for further consideration

· There are important differences between student groups, which suggest that comparisons based on the aggregate scores, both between institutions and between courses may be affected by student profiles and course characteristics.

· After taking into account student, course and institutional factors, there were still significant differences in the responses from students on different courses at different institutions.

· Students from ethnic minorities had different responses to their experiences than white students, and students from Asian backgrounds were generally less positive about all aspects of their courses.

· The effect of gender was complex with men and women responding differently to different groups of questions.

· Older students were broadly more positive on the groups of questions relating directly to teaching quality than their younger counterparts.

· Those living at home with a parent or guardian and students from outside the UK were, in general, more positive about their courses.

Liz Beaty, HEFCE's Director for Learning and Teaching, said: "I welcome this report because it provides the fullest analysis yet of the results of the National Student Survey. The findings will enable universities and colleges to reflect further on their learning and teaching provision and address areas that need attention.

"HEFCE will work with the Higher Education Academy and other partners to support institutions in enhancing their provision and identifying further areas of work. The research will inform future use of the NSS data to support policy development. I look forward to the publication of research in the spring of 2007 of the analysis of the 2006 NSS results, enabling us to compare two years' worth of data."

‘The National Student Survey 2005: Summary Report, Findings Report and Response Report’ were undertaken by Paula Surridge of the Department of Sociology at the University of Bristol, and were commissioned by HEFCE, on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) Northern Ireland.

Further work will be done by the University of Bristol to analyse the 2006 NSS results. The work will focus on the student, course and institutional characteritics of the results and will identify any changes between the 2005 and 2006 results.  This report is due to be published in spring 2007.

The NSS forms part of the revised Quality Assurance Framework, which includes supporting student choice.  The survey collects information from final year undergraduates. The 2005 survey covered institutions in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The 2005 NSS had a 60 per cent response rate, with over 170,000 final year students taking part. Of these 80 per cent were satisfied overall with their courses.

The questions in the NSS are grouped into six areas plus an overall satisfaction question: the teaching on my course, assessment and feedback, · academic support, organisation and management, learning resources,  personal development, overall satisfaction.

Edit this page