Using the National Student Survey to improve student learning

Date: 22 June, 2011
Location: Boardroom, Woburn House Conference Centre 20 Tavistock Square London WC1H 9HQ
Event type: Workshop

Location map | Programme

Since 2005 every final year student has been invited to participate in the National Student Survey (NSS). The results are used by institutions in their marketing, comparison sites such as and by newspapers in compiling university league tables. Used well the NSS can be a genuine instrument for enhancing the quality of student learning– used poorly there is the potential for missed opportunities, misguided change and damaged reputation. The workshop will help participants to better understand and make better use of the NSS.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the research methodology used by the NSS
  • Compare and contrast staff and student understandings of the NSS questions
  • Appreciate the potential importance of the NSS in influencing student choice and its role in affecting institutional reputation.
  • Use the NSS as a tool for improving student learning



  • There is a charge of £50 for employees and postgraduate students of publicly funded UK educational institutions to attend this event.
  • There is a charge of £60 for employees and postgraduate students of private institutions/organisations and non-UK institutions to attend this event.
  • Please note that we reserve the right to retain the fee of £50/£60 if you do not notify us by Wednesday 15 June 2011 that you are unable to attend.
  • Full details of our charging policy are available.
  • Lunch will be provided.

Travel bursary

Travel bursaries are not available for this event.

Provisional programme for 22 June 2011
Time Session
10.30 - 11.00 Coffee and registration
11.00 - 11.15 Welcome and introductions
11.15 - 11.45

Where we are now

This opening group discussion will be an opportunity to share your thoughts and experiences of using the NSS so far, as well as getting to know other workshop attendees.

How is the NSS used in my department/ institution?

What (or how) has your department/ institution changed as a result of the NSS?

The one thing I would most like to get out of today is…

11.45 - 13.00

Understanding the NSS questions

LLAS has funded 10 departments to carry out interviews with staff and students about how staff and students understand the questions on the NSS.

The session includes reports from four of the projects:

Sam Hellmuth (University of York)
Jeanette Sakel (University of the West of England, Bristol)
Simon Williams (University of Sussex)
Billy Clark (Middlesex University)

13.00 - 14.00 Lunch
14.00 - 14.45 Listening to the student voice in HE or not? How does the NSS fit in?
Angela Gallagher-Brett, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies
14.45 - 15.30

Using the NSS to enhance teaching quality
Alex Buckley, Higher Education Academy
 Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 391 KB)

15.30 - 16.00 The NSS: What are the opportunities for languages, linguistics and area studies?

Discussions about the NSS often focus on questions of methodology, the perils of league tables and differing views about the meaning of some of the questions. In this open session we will discuss what opportunities the NSS presents for staff teaching languages, linguistics or area studies
16.00 Close