National Student Survey 2016: the sector reacts

Sector bodies and institutions respond to latest NSS results

August 10, 2016
Happy face
Source: istock
Around 312,000 final-year undergraduates took part in this year's National Student Survey

Overall satisfaction scores among undergraduates at UK universities remain at high levels, according to the 2016 National Student Survey. Here, some of the best and worst performers, as well as sector bodies, give their verdict on the 2016 results.

Alistair Jarvis, deputy chief executive of Universities UK, said the poll of around 312,000 final-year UK undergraduates, whose results were released on 10 August, showed student satisfaction remained at record levels.

“With the government's new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for universities in England under development, these impressive results are a timely reminder that most students report strong satisfaction with the high quality teaching and learning experience that universities provide.” 


Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said it is “encouraging that such high numbers of students are satisfied with the quality of teaching and academic support they have received while studying for their degrees.”

“The results are testament to the hard work of college and university staff, who continue to deliver a high-quality experience for students.”


Pam Tatlow, chief executive of MillionPlus, which represents modern universities, said the 86 per cent overall satisfaction score was a “tribute to the fantastic work done by university staff and management during a period of significant change".

“These satisfaction rates are much higher than those achieved in many private and public sector organisations and provide further evidence that UK universities are performing extremely well.” 


Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, said students at its 24 universities registered higher than average satisfaction scores.

“Our universities are committed to taking students’ views and needs very seriously and to providing an outstanding student experience where teaching is enhanced by world-class research and facilities”

“Our students graduate with deep subject knowledge and robust analytical skills but are also creative and entrepreneurial problem-solvers – ensuring they have the best chance of success in the global employment market”.


Trevor McMillan, vice-chancellor of Keele University, whose overall satisfaction score of 94 was the highest on any university in England, welcomed his institution’s performance.

“We are delighted that Keele is first in the NSS for the third year running. It is becoming increasingly clear that academic quality, outstanding student support and high employability are the key priorities for the new generation of students.”


Lorna Milne, vice-principal and proctor at the University of St Andrews, said its overall satisfaction rating of 94 – the joint highest score of any UK public university – said the result “confirms we have superb staff … and a community where the greatest satisfaction goes together with the most ambitious challenges.

“Scottish universities are setting excellent standards in UK education, and we are delighted that the NSS can be taken as such a positive endorsement of hard work and achievement in our sector.”


Paul Kelly, pro-director for teaching and learning at the London School of Economics, whose score of 75 was the lowest of any major UK university once small and specialists institutions are excluded, said improving student experience and teaching was a “top priority for LSE”.

“This is why we are investing £11 million over the next three years on teaching and learning and why LSE has embarked on the biggest development of its building infrastructure in 120 years.

“We want to offer a high quality and innovative education, which is as well regarded as our world leading research.” 


Maria Hinfelaar, vice-chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University, whose overall satisfaction score rose by 5 percentage points to 85, ranked top in Wales for assessment and feedback, timetabling, building confidence and personal development.

“To see a 5 percentage points increase in overall satisfaction is very positive news and shows how hard staff are working to further improve the student experience here in north east Wales”.

“Our students are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we will continue to strive for better.”


John Grattan, acting vice-chancellor at Aberystwyth University, whose overall rating rose by 9 percentage points to 92, joint second overall, welcomed the result.

“The student experience has always been at the heart of everything we do here at Aberystwyth University and these results show how much effort goes into making sure that the experience they have is first-rate.

“We have climbed more than 100 places since last year but not only is the overall satisfaction with the university at a record high, we are also seeing stellar performances across individual departments”.


Ruth Sayers, executive dean for learning, teaching and international at Bishop Grosseteste University, in Lincoln, who are ranked joint second on 92 due to a 7 percentage point increase, said the improved result reflected its commitment to working in partnership with students to improve teaching.

“We’ve introduced a number of initiatives to help give them a greater input including a new student engagement facilitator role which has been created to enhance and further develop a culture of staff and students working in partnership across the university.”

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