It’ almost time again for the National Student Survey (NSS) to run, the annual collection of opinions from final year students enrolled at the University, commissioned by HEFCE and co-ordinated via Ipsos MORI1. The survey has been running since 2005 and in that time has collated responses from over three million students. This year all our final year students are invited to submit their evaluations from 6 February to 30 April. They will be bombarded by the distinctive NSS logo (see logo below) and advertising across campus, on e-mail and via social media.
In Medicine we collect lots of data on a student’s experience of their course, including their views on the teaching and learning opportunities, the facilities, the quality of assessments and the support available. We recognise the importance of gathering and acting upon such feedback, and were pioneers of the ‘You said, we did’ system for telling students about any changes consequent on their feedback, an approach widely lauded and adopted by other organisations.
Why then, when we already collect so much student evaluation here in the Faculty, are we now emphasising the NSS? There are two main drivers. The first is that results of this national poll feed into the rankings in league tables such as those of The Guardian, The Times and the Complete University Guide. These tables are important in that they are widely consulted by potential students, their parents and employers. We want to attract the ‘best’ students to apply to us and students want to apply to the ‘best’ institutions and programmes for them ( – thoughts on who are the ‘best’ students for Medicine and how we should select them will be left for a future blog).
The second relates to the Teaching Excellence Framework, the system whereby the Government aims to recognise and reward excellence in teaching in universities. The metrics for reviewing performance in the Year 2 TEF are many and detailed, with NSS scores forming a significant part. Ultimately, there will be both financial (ability to raise fees) and reputational impact of TEF rankings for universities in England.
So the NSS, and us achieving great feedback in it, does matter. Great feedback comes from us delivering great courses and university experience. Thanks to all of you who work so hard to do just that for all our students here in Medicine.