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Review of the National Student Survey

Published: July 2014


This review explored:

  • the purposes of the National Student Survey (NSS) both now and in the future
  • the effectiveness of the current NSS in meeting these purposes
  • how the NSS might change to meet its purposes more effectively.

Four reports were produced as a result of this review - a summary, students' views, stakeholders' views and a literature review - use the pink buttons below to download them.

It was commissioned by the UK Higher Education funding bodies, and we undertook it in partnership with the Institute of Education and the Institute for Employment Studies.


  • There was a limited appetite for radical changes to the NSS and general support for keeping most of the existing NSS questions.  
  • However, there was a widespread feeling that the NSS now takes insufficient account of student engagement with learning.
  • We recommended piloting 11 new questions probing the issue of student engagement, which could be introduced by 2017. 


  • An extensive literature review.
  • Interviews with, and a survey of, sector stakeholder bodies including funding agencies and other key organisations, and higher education (HE) providers.
  • Focus groups and a survey of prospective, current and past students.
  • Four half-day expert panel workshops which brought together HE stakeholders, policy and methodological experts.

Review Summary

Review - Stakeholder views

Review - Student views

Literature Review