National student survey

The Office for Students has published the results of the latest NSS survey, the key points from which are the following: 

“Overall, 83 per cent of the 311,432 UK students who responded to this year’s National Student Survey (NSS) are satisfied with the quality of their course – marginally down from 84 per cent last year. However, students have continued to report comparatively lower rates of satisfaction with how their courses are organised and how effectively changes are communicated by their university or college.

This year’s NSS was open to students from 6 January 2020 to 30 April 2020 – overlapping with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the UK entering ‘lockdown’. Additional analysis, also published today, shows that while there were some variations across the data compared to previous surveys, there was no evidence that the results have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

For example, this year 75 per cent of full-time students in England agreed that changes in the course or teaching have been communicated effectively. While this is down from 77 per cent in 2019, this change cannot be clearly attributed to the pandemic, with similar variations observed in previous years

Additionally, for full-time students in England:

  • 67 per cent agreed that the course is well organised and running smoothly
  • 62 per cent agreed that it was clear how students’ feedback on the course had been acted on.

These questions have typically had lower agreement rates in recent years and will be particularly important areas for students as universities adapt the delivery of courses as the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic continues. In 2019, 70 per cent of students agreed that their course was well organised and running smoothly – in 2018 the agreement rate was 69 per cent.”

Elsewhere in the survey, students reported lower rates of satisfaction with the assessment and feedback on their courses compared to other areas; on ‘marking and assessment was fair and that they received helpful comments’ full-time students 72 per cent agreed (an improvement over 2018 where only 64% agreed).

There are also notable differences in responses between full-time and part-time students. For example, only 49 per cent of part-time students in England agreed that their feedback had been acted on by staff – 13 percentage points behind their full-time peers. Just 58 per cent of part-time students agreed that they felt a part of a community of students, compared to 69 per cent of full-time students.

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