Why we can't get no satisfaction 1

March 28, 2003

Plans for the national student survey are not in "disarray" as the front-page article claims ("Student survey plans fall apart", THES , March 21). On the contrary, we are making steady progress and intend to pilot it during 2003.

A survey of this scale and nature takes years to become fully established. There are several substantial issues to consider from the outset. These include the nature of the questionnaire, the methods of surveying and achieving adequate response rates, and the validity of the results.

The Australian Course Evaluation Questionnaire is a helpful starting point but it cannot simply be applied in England without consideration. Published outcomes will affect the choices of future students and the reputations of institutions. It is therefore critical that the information provided is robust and a valid reflection of student views.

It will take time to ensure this, and a staged approach will be needed.

That may have implications for what can be published initially, but we will work with Universities UK, the Standing Conference of Principals and the Quality Assurance Agency to meet, as quickly as practicable, the public information needs.

Liz Beaty
Director (learning and teaching)
Higher Education Funding Council for England

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