‘Disappointment’ as OfS scraps NSS satisfaction question

Students in England will no longer be asked about the overall quality of their course despite opposition to the move

十月 28, 2022
Happy and sad cardboard faces

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has expressed disappointment at the English regulator’s plans to remove a question on overall student satisfaction from the nation’s biggest higher education survey.

Question 27 of the National Student Survey (NSS) will be omitted from future iterations of the exercise in England as part of a wide-ranging shake-up of the influential study, the Office for Students has confirmed after a consultation on its plans.

But QAA said it fears the move will put prospective students at a disadvantage because it is the only question that directly asks about the overall quality of courses.

“It is especially disappointing that OfS is proceeding with this given the vast majority of respondents opposed the proposal, with only around a tenth of respondents supporting it,” a spokesman said.

The OfS is removing the question because of fears it detracts from the wider findings of the survey and is too consumerist in nature. But the change would only apply in England, not Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – where regulators had expressed a desire to keep it – and QAA said that this risks “further divergence from a UK-wide approach to quality, which affects the global reputation of UK higher education”.

The body said that the purpose of the NSS “ought to be viewed more broadly than as a regulatory tool” and it has a wider value as a source of information for prospective students and for enhancing the academic experience.

The OfS – which manages the NSS on behalf of higher education funders and regulators – will also introduce a new question on students’ mental well-being across the UK as part of the changes. In England, participants will be asked about whether they feel they are able to express their views freely at their university. 

It said that the changes “will help ensure the survey continues to provide high quality information about students’ perceptions of their academic experience and the quality of the education they receive”.

More direct questions will be introduced with a four-point answer scale and, from 2024-25, the period of time students have to respond to the survey will be shortened.

Conor Ryan, director of external relations at the OfS, said that the NSS was an “invaluable resource for universities, colleges, prospective students and regulators”.

For it to remain “fit for purpose”, however, “it must adapt to reflect changes in teaching and learning”, he said.

“After a thorough consultation, our changes will provide improved insight to help us regulate the quality of education and ensure the survey provides a consistent measure of students’ academic experience.

“The inclusion of questions on mental well-being and freedom of expression in England will capture students’ views on wider factors that affect their academic experience. This data will enable us as the regulator and universities and colleges to identify effective policies as well as poor practice, and put measures in place to improve students’ overall education.”




  • 注册是免费的,而且十分便捷
  • 注册成功后,您每月可免费阅读3篇文章
  • 订阅我们的邮件
Please 登录 or 注册 to read this article.

Reader's comments (4)

The onus is on QAA is provide evidence that the response from ANY NSS questions is an index of education quality. I doubt very much anyone can provide this - HE is not Disneyland, its main purpose is education. People who go to university primarily to have a 'university experience' could spend their money better with a Netflix account.
Haughty deheuty is talking nonsense,
Some of the worst Universities have the best NSS scores simply because they pander to students rather than educating them. Mediocre management are preoccupied with getting high NSS scores to prove they are not incompetent at their jobs.
I am very satisfied with this change.