A question of satisfaction

August 20, 2015

More than 300,000 individuals answering 23 questions, each with five possible responses (“NSS 2015: £9K tuition fees fail to dent satisfaction”, News, 13 August). Yet the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the media, report almost exclusively on two-fifths of the answers to 1/23rd of the questions.

The generic question 22, on “overall satisfaction”, is the least worthy of those included in the National Student Survey because it simply remeasures what has been assessed in detail in the preceding 21 questions. If it is to be used, let’s at least have a grade-point average; at present a provider with an “overall satisfaction” score of 86 per cent, split evenly across the two categories but with one in seven students wholly dissatisfied, has exactly the same reported outcome as a provider with the same upper ratings but not a single dissatisfied student. In the regrettable absence of publishing the full range of responses, the GPA, in this case 4.01 and 4.29 respectively, at least helps to indicate the breadth of views.

John Cater
Vice-chancellor, Edge Hill University

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