Which universities came out on top and which were missing from this year’s National Student Survey results?
The National Student Survey (NSS), published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, measures levels of student satisfaction at university.
This year’s poll found that 84 per cent of students were content with their degree courses. Less than the 86 per cent of the previous three years. Students unions received the lowest scores: just 57 per cent of respondents said their union effectively represented their academic interests.
The NSS asks students 27 questions relating to eight aspects of their university experiences. The groups of statements cover topics such as: teaching on my course; assessment and feedback; academic support; organisation and management; learning resources and personal development. Participants are then given the opportunity to make positive and negative comments in an open answer question.
There was a tie for first place this year between the University of Buckingham, the Royal Veterinary College, and the University of St Andrews. All secured a 94 per cent approval rating. Harper Adams University took fourth place with 93 per cent. Loughborough University, the London Institute of Banking and Finance and St Mary’s University College, Belfast were joint fifth with 92 per cent.
Over 300,000 students took part in the survey, although a dozen of Britain’s top universities did not feature. They include the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, University College London and King’s College London. This was because of a student boycott organised in protest over the government’s teaching excellence framework (TEF). Fewer than 50 per cent of final-year undergraduates completed the survey at these institutions. This meant the universities were not eligible to feature in the main results.
The boycott, led by the National Union of Students, came about after it was announced that scores from the NSS would be used to measure universities in the government’s new framework. Students objected to the TEF ratings allowing some universities to raise fees in line with inflation, further highlighting tensions in the UK over the cost of tuition fees.
How comprehensive is the National Student Survey?
Despite the boycott, the NSS is still the biggest survey of student opinion in the UK. This year, the poll had more focus on student engagement and the student voice.
One of the most important statements students are asked is whether, overall, they are satisfied with the quality of their course.
The purpose of the survey is to inform the decisions of prospective students companies courses and deciding what and where to study. Student feedback is also used by universities and colleges to enhance the learning experience for future undergraduates. The survey also contributes to the public accountability of higher education.
READ MORE: What is the Teaching Excellence Framework?/ Five Steps to Choosing the Right University/ Everything you Need to Know About Clearing