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The National Student Survey

The 2021 National Student Survey (NSS) will run from 8 February 2021 to 30 April 2021 at York. The survey is organised nationally (with a national start date of 6 January) and is aimed at undergraduate students in their final year. This means all University of York undergraduate finalists are asked to take part.

The results help us to identify areas where we need to make further progress to enhance our students' teaching and learning experiences. 

Information for staff

The survey is commissioned by the Office for Students and is conducted by Ipsos MORI. Undergraduate finalists studying at UK universities will be asked for their views on:

  • the quality of the teaching and assessment on their course
  • personal development and academic support they have experienced
  • organisation and management within their department
  • the quality of, and access to, learning resources.

There is a standard set of 27 questions, plus an additional open text box. The 2021 survey also includes a new set of additional questions in response to Covid-19, to ask students about specific aspects of their experience during the pandemic.

While the survey is running it can be accessed on the NSS website.

About the results

We use the NSS results, together with other feedback from students, staff and external examiners, to highlight where departments and the University are doing well and to inform plans for quality improvement.

The results from the main questionnaire are published on DiscoverUni and some questions are also included in the Key Information Sets (KIS) which are published on departmental web pages.

Promotional materials

The official NSS promotional materials for 2021 are now available:

Consult the Staff wiki (staff login required) for advice on image sizes to use for the web. Images can be resized down as required, but please do not resize up as you will lose image quality.

Inappropriate influence

What is inappropriate influence and why is it important to ensure that there is no undue influence in promoting the NSS?

All those involved in the NSS should be aware of the guidelines regarding inappropriate influence. Staff can remind eligible students to complete the survey but they have a responsibility to ensure that their students are encouraged to give their honest feedback on their student experience in the NSS.  However, students should not feel that they are being monitored or encouraged to answer the survey in a particular way.

Staff must not:

  • explicitly instruct students on how to complete the survey, eg "I recommend that you select agree or mostly agree"
  • link responses to the NSS as having an impact on the value of students' degrees or their chances of employability
  • link responses to the NSS as having an impact on the institution’s position in league tables
  • inaccurately represent the response scale to students ie defining the "neither agree nor disagree" as a negative response
  • compare the NSS scale to other scales with different purposes ie assignment marking schemes
  • look over students' shoulders when they complete the survey
  • require students to provide evidence that they have completed the survey
  • complete the survey on behalf of students.

It is crucial that local survey promotion is neutral and that:

  • students are targeted equally so that each eligible student is given a chance to express their views on their student experience
  • students feel free to give honest feedback about their experiences without their responses being influenced by their institution
  • students must not be encouraged to reflect in their answers anything other than genuine perceptions of their experience.

Any promotional materials that are produced in addition to those provided by Ipsos MORI must be checked for suitability in accordance with NSS guidance. A senior member of staff should sign-off all materials before they are used.

Where a concern or allegation is raised, it will be investigated by the Office for Students. If an investigation were to find that promotional activities and marketing materials had resulted in inappropriate influence, whether intentional or unintentional, the integrity of the NSS data could be called into question.

The OfS (in partnership with the relevant funding partners) could take action to suppress the affected NSS data for the institution. This would mean that no NSS data would be published for the affected courses at the institution in the specific year and, as a result, it would not be available for marketing activities, learning enhancement work or inclusion on Unistats, the Office for Students website etc.


University Teaching Committee has recommended that no institutional incentives or prizes be offered in relation to the 2021 survey. If you have any queries about this, please contact