The National Student Survey (NSS) seeks the views of final-year undergraduate students across the UK every year. The survey enables higher education providers to continuously evaluate, improve and benchmark the courses they offer, and it helps to inform decisions made by prospective students about where to study.
Warwick is no exception and this year, over 3,400 (70%) of our finalists who were eligible took part in the survey, mostly in February and March 2021.
While our response rate overall this year has decreased on the previous two years (75% and 78%), it represents a positive outcome given that we have continued to work with our student body and gather insight more regularly through termly surveys, active SSLCs and TEG.
The results of this year’s survey were published by the Office for Students this week through a public release on their website and through a more granular dataset sent to each provider. Following a challenging year for staff and students, it was expected that the NSS results for 2021 would be impacted across the sector. However, Warwick’s outcomes have shown relatively little impact, thereby improving the University’s position relative to the sector and within the Russell Group.
At Warwick, our results are overall very positive. Overall Satisfaction amongst our students is 83.2%, and we are now 13th in the sector (all universities across the UK) and 8.3% ahead of the sector average. This also places us third in the Russell Group.
We are first for Assessment and Feedback within the Russell Group. In this year of unprecedented change, this demonstrates the skill and dedication of our academic staff in putting the needs of students at the heart of all we do. It is also testament to the tenacity of our final year students.
We are in the top two in the Russell Group for Academic Support, Organisation and Management, Learning Resources and Student Voice. And in three areas, we are in the top 16 in the sector: Teaching, Organisation and Management, and Student Voice. This reflects very positively on the ability of our academic and professional staff to listen actively to students and maintain an excellent learning experience – this has clearly been appreciated by our final year students.
We have seen declines in satisfaction in some areas, such as accessing learning resource and feeling part of a community of staff and students. These are not unexpected results after the challenges our community, and this cohort in particular, has experienced over the last couple of years.
We are gratified to see that overall, our students have had a positive learning experience. We understand this is an atypical year and will explore, in more detail, areas in which we can address gaps and continue to improve.
We are working through the results for each academic department and course and have shared an initial summary of these with each department’s senior team. We can see variability, with a number of departments building on strong foundations and enjoying an upwards trend, while others will need to work carefully with their students to understand what lies behind some challenging results. Overall, the rich feedback provided to us by our students gives us a lot to think about as we continue to work on preparations for the next academic year. It will also help to focus our attention as we plan the next steps in implementing the University's Education Strategy over the coming year.
The arrival of NSS results coincides with our work to graduate this cohort of finalists this week. While the usual celebrations at degree ceremonies will come later, this is still a good opportunity to reflect on the sheer amount of work that has gone into teaching and supporting our students over the last year. The Education Executive team passes on its thanks to all colleagues who have played their part in the most demanding circumstances this year.
The NSS results show that we have much to be proud of and that our students continue to highly value the energy and care that staff invest into delivering a first-rate learning experience.