Beyond the National Student Survey

Our White Paper, “Beyond the National Student Survey” outlines key principles for improving student experience. It:

  • Summarises the changes and discontinuities that are shaping student experience expectations.
  • Overviews the changes contained in the Government White Paper, “Success as a Knowledge Economy“.
  • Outlines ten significant problems of the National Student Survey.
  • Defines six key principles for defining and managing student experience.


DOWNLOAD THE WHITE PAPER:   White Paper: Beyond the National Student Survey


Extract:  Beyond the National Student Survey

Student Experience: Where are we Now?

Success as a Knowledge Economy”, comes at a time of great change in Education. Although Brexit adds uncertainty, the sector is bigger, more global, more market led and (in the UK) more internationally competitive1 than ever before.

There are pressures and pent-up discontinuities too. The student loans system is a machine whose dials are flashing amber, if not red2. A third of students in England think they’re getting poor value for money (“rip off” is the most common phrase they use in our proprietary research). There are also gaps between students’ employment expectations and outcomes. The World Economic Forum noted in 2014 that: “Many current graduates are discovering that despite their academic qualifications … they lack the specific technical and professional skills demanded by the ever-changing jobs market.”3

There has been a great focus on the use of technology to enhance student learning. But the fundamental way that Higher Education is done still looks very similar to thirty years ago. Education hasn’t yet experienced its Uber moment; but that’s not to say that innovators aren’t striving to create new educational business models that may fundamentally change the relationship between educated and educator.

Against this backdrop, the purpose of “Success as a Knowledge Economy is to rebalance ‘the relationship between teaching and research’ in universities and to put ‘teaching at the heart of the system’.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), is the management and control system for achieving this. TEF essentially breaks “excellence” into three measurable components: 1) teaching quality 2) student experience and 3) employment outcomes. There is a strong policy direction to link these outcomes to tuition fees.

Student experience is at the heart of TEF. The de facto measurement tool for this is the National Student Survey, a 22 question survey tool that elicits final year students’ satisfaction in six areas: Assessment & Feedback, Academic Support, Organisation and Management, Learning Resources, and Personal Development.

2 thoughts on “Beyond the National Student Survey”

  1. Some interesting points to consider here. The context Universities and Colleges are currently in is a difficult one to manage in that, students and applicants are encouraged to see themselves, and think, as customers and consumers: Universities and Colleges in general have a long way to go structurally and culturally to deal with that and match that expectation.
    Although in Universities and Colleges the journey towards a ‘new world’ of customers and transparent university systems where the applicant & student are at the centre is certainly happening! We are not always at the same place regarding meeting those expectations yet. We will get there though.
    That’s the challenge of education in the 21st century; we need to continually evaluate and evidence our product and ensure we deliver on it: or the customer will go elsewhere or will not purchase as its not value for money!

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