Accessibility statement

National Student Survey

The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual survey that asks final year undergraduate students to provide feedback on their programme of study. The survey is commissioned by the Office for Students and undertaken by Ipsos MORI.

Undergraduate finalists studying at UK universities are 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.

The results help to highlight where departments and the University are doing well and to inform plans for quality improvement.

Survey completion

Students are usually contacted to complete the survey between January and April and the results of the survey are published on the Discover Uni website.

The 2024 survey will run from Monday 5 February to Tuesday 30 April 2024

Sharing the results

Sharing the results with staff and student representatives, and externally

Access to NSS data is restricted to staff involved in delivering and supporting teaching because, as well as including analysis of data that is available in the public domain, it includes additional data (see the FAQs tab), which are not published on the DiscoverUni website. These data have been made available for internal use only. They should not be shared with third parties (this includes publicity and marketing materials. HEFCE has also advised that they should not be shared with professional, statutory and regulatory bodies). Texuna are now responsible (on behalf of HEFCE) for the release of NSS data and their guidance on using internal data should be followed.

We have been advised by HEFCE that the additional data may be shared with student representatives (eg at Boards of Studies) as long as they are made aware of the guidance on appropriate use (Texuna guidance) and why they are being allowed to view it (ie to help them fulfil their role and, as with other committee papers, they have responsibility to maintain confidentiality of the unpublished data).

Texuna has also advised that, due to the Survey's privacy statement, online access to the open comments should be further restricted. The open comments are therefore available to Chairs of Boards of Studies, Chairs of Combined Executive Committees and Heads of Department and a limited group of senior managers only. If they wish to share relevant comments with colleagues for the purpose of enhancing the student experience (eg at Boards of Studies or Annual Programme Review meetings) they must do so in accordance with Texuna's guidance. At these meetings, committees may need to look at other departments' open comments (eg, where considering combined programmes); however this should be kept to a minimum and we do not usually expect data relating to other departments to be circulated. Open comments must not be shared with third parties.

Data that is in the public domain may be shared with students and externally.

Promotional materials

Official NSS promotional materials for 2024 are available, including:

  • A4 poster to self-print
  • Slides for lecturers
  • Digital screen
  • Short video
  • Web banners

Official NSS promotional materials

Consult the staff wiki for advice on resizing and saving your images for the web (staff login required). Images can be resized down as required, but please do not resize up as you will lose image quality.

Inappropriate influence

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. 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.


Why is there a difference between the number of our students who graduated and the sample contacted to complete the Survey?

The students that are contacted are those expected to graduate based on the return that the University makes to HESA in July. We are unable to take account of any changes to students' circumstances after July, so students who withdraw in their final year, take a leave of absence, repeat a year, or transfer to a four year programme after July will still be included. Students will only be surveyed once.

What are the additional (unpublished) data?

The additional data that are made available to institutions and students' unions for internal use only, include:

  • students' anonymised comments
  • data that fall below the 'reliability threshold' used on the Unistats site (data are only published where there is at least a 50% response rate and at least 10 responses)
  • data from the additional bank of questions and institution-specific questions
  • data relating to subject groups/departments that are not represented on the Unistats website (eg PEP, History and History of Art).

See Texuna guidance on using internal data

Can we share additional (unpublished) data relating to other departments with staff and student representatives?

Your department/Board of Studies should consider data relating to other departments where relevant (eg relating to combined programmes); however, we do not expect data relating to other departments to be circulated (especially the open comments).

Why can't we share the additional (unpublished) data with the wider student body?

We have sought advice on this from HEFCE. They believe that sharing the unpublished data with the student body would not fit within the Texuna guidance for use of the data. This is for two reasons:

  1. the privacy statement for the NSS only allows the data to be published via the Unistats site and back to institutions and Students' Unions. It does not state that the unpublished data will be available to the student body. Therefore, if these data were released it would not meet these requirements.
  2. The unpublished data do not meet the reliability threshold. HEFCE is concerned that by releasing it to the student body it may impact on how they respond to the survey in future, and also that it may be passed to potential applicants who may then make choices about their higher education on data that are not considered robust for those purposes.

HEFCE do however recognise the value of these data for quality enhancement, and the role student representatives play in such discussions. Therefore the data may be shared with student representatives as long as they are made aware of the terms and conditions of use and the reasons why they are able to view it.

Survey results and analysis

At York, the results of the Survey are considered initially by a small group of staff and Students' Union representatives led by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning, Teaching and Information on behalf of University Teaching Committee (UTC). The group analyses and draws out the implications of the results for institutional quality enhancement activities and provides feedback to departments.

The results and some analysis of results are circulated to Heads of Department and Chairs of Boards of Studies in the summer. Departments are asked to consider the results (with staff and students) and to keep UTC informed of their response and any actions taken through the annual programme review process. 

Who to contact

For survey queries:

For enquiries under the Freedom of Information Act: