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FAQs on the NSS, the Teaching Excellence Framework, tuition fees and results publication thresholds.
1. Why does the University of Warwick support the NSS?

Delivering excellence in teaching and learning is impossible unless this is done in partnership with students and student feedback is an essential part of this. The NSS is one of the most prominent annual quality enhancement activities undertaken by Warwick across all departments and informs what we do at departmental and institutional levels. (See “What difference has the NSS made for students so far?”)

Warwick has been taking part in the NSS for over a decade and participation is now a national requirement of all publically funded Universities. The fact that it is a national survey allows us to compare the experiences of students studying similar subjects across different universities and learn from public information from across the sector.

Being able to compare results over time also helps to contextualise survey results, recognise best practice and identify where change or improvements might be required.

2. What difference has the NSS made for students so far?

The survey results are used by departments, central student services and senior management on an annual basis. The results of the survey, alongside other student feedback, are used as a basis on which departments develop action plans in consultation with their SSLCs and wider student body. NSS results (both quantitative and qualitative/free text feedback) were used as part of the evidence base for the 2017 Institutional Teaching and Learning Review, helping to reinforce the student voice alongside student members on every panel and student interviews for every department. Survey results also feed into the annual Teaching Excellence Group meetings held with departments as part of the University's quality review and enhancement process. Action plans in relation to survey feedback are also by the University's Faculty Education Committees and the Student Learning Experience and Engagement Committee.

The survey has impacted across a range of areas that it addresses, some University-wide examples are provided below (and in our webpages here) but your department will have more specific examples for you.

Teaching and Learning Opportunities

Assessment and Feedback

Learning Resources

Academic Support and personal development

3. What do I lose if I don’t complete the survey this year?

The opportunity to take part in one of the most prominent annual quality enhancement activities the University undertakes across all departments.

As a finalist undergraduate, you are best placed to comment on your learning and teaching experience over the last few years. Both the quantitative and qualitative data from the survey is analysed and used extensively by departments, central services, senior management and University Committees. Your feedback results in action, and that's why we have encouraged students to take part over the years. (See "What difference has the NSS made for students so far?")

4. What is the TEF?

The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) is a framework implemented by the government to assess excellence in teaching at universities and colleges, and how each higher education provider ensures excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study. The TEF assessment currently applies to undergraduates only.

The aims of the most recent TEF were to:

  • Better inform students’ choices about what and where to study
  • Widen participation and increase social mobility (across gender, ethnicity, disadvantage)
  • Raise esteem for teaching
  • Recognise and reward excellent teaching
  • Better meet the needs of employers, business, industry and the professions

The Office for Students is currently developing proposals for the future of the TEF. Further information on this can be found here.

5. What does the NSS have to do with the TEF?

Three of the six metrics used to assess institutions in the second iteration of the TEF, in which Warwick was awarded Silver, were derived from certain sections of the National Student Survey, averaged over three years of survey results.

6. Will the TEF mean that tuition fees will rise?

An amendment made to the Higher Education and Research Bill removed the link between the Teaching Excellence Framework and the amount that Higher Education Providers can charge. The final legislation that received royal ascent did not contain any such link.

(Previously, the Government had indicated that providers with a TEF award will be able to increase their fees in line with inflation.)

7. What is the University's position on the TEF?

The University of Warwick made its first submission to the TEF on the 26th January 2017 alongside 298 other universities, colleges and alternative providers of higher education. Whilst we agree with the fundamental proposition that Universities should provide high-quality teaching, it is unclear that the TEF as currently proposed will measure that. For this reason, though we must acknowledge and work with government policy, we have been actively trying to influence developments in this area to make the TEF methodology more fit for purpose.

8. What is the University's position in relation to students who might choose to not complete the survey?

The University respects freedom of expression and the rights of its students to opt out of taking the survey. Likewise, the University expects that others should respect the rights of those who choose to complete the survey and engage with it for the purposes of enhancing teaching and learning at Warwick.

9. What should I do if I have made my mind up and am not going to complete the NSS?

We really want you to complete the survey and hope you do but if you’ve made your mind up that you are not going to, then you can formally opt out of the survey in order to stop receiving communications from Ipsos MORI.

Formally opting out of the NSS still affects the response rate just like any other “non-response” but the on-going and final number of formal “opt outs” are recorded anonymously and the number of these are made known to both the HEFCE and the University.

At any stage that Ipsos MORI contacts you directly, you can state that you do not wish to take part.

10. What happens if my course/department doesn’t meet the publication threshold?

The more students who respond, the more complete and representative the dataset will be that is returned to the University for quality enhancement or published for various purposes. Results are collated at institutional, department, course and subject grouping levels.

The external publication threshold for NSS results (for example, in Unistats for prospective students) is a 50% response rate and a minimum of 10 respondents. This is a rule imposed by the Office for Students to ensure the relative representativeness of reported results.

The internal threshold for NSS results is a minimum of 10 respondents by cohort. Results for Warwick cohorts of 10 or more respondents are provided to the University for internal quality enhancement purposes where this is met, regardless of the response rate.

Where a course or department doesn’t meet the required 10 respondents (or has fewer than 10 eligible students) results at the specific cohort level are not released to the University to use for internal quality assurance purposes but will contribute to the department or subject level results (cohort numbers permitting). This is a rule imposed by the Office for Students to protect the anonymity of students.

11. Why doesn't my department set up an alternative survey for students who do not wish to complete the NSS?

Providing students who are eligible to complete the NSS this year with a replacement survey would be undermining our obligations as a publicly-funded University in England. Participation in the survey is mandatory under the Office for Students, the national regulator for Higher Education in England.

We always strongly encourage all Warwick students to take part in the full wealth of student engagement, participation and feedback opportunities available to them. If you opt out of the survey this year, please make sure that you have done everything that you can to inform and develop teaching and learning for students on your programme and across Warwick this year and in those to come.

12. Can students withdraw or redact their response after completing the survey?

We really want you to complete the survey and hope you do. In the unfortunate situation that you want to withdraw your response to the NSS, the below information is taken directly from the NSS (Ipsos MORI) website:

One of the student FAQs on provides the following information:

“Can I change or withdraw my survey responses?"

"We do accept additional comments to the open questions. If you would like to make any additional comments, please contact us at Please note that to append additional comments to your submitted survey responses, we will ask you for some verification information.

Respondents are also entitled to request that part or all of their record of the survey/research be deleted. However due to publication timetables any requests to change responses should be made by 30 April [survey end date]. For further information, please contact us"

Unlike a request to "opt out" (see question 8), there is no formal record of numbers of students who withdraw their response this way, so it will just appear as if the individual(s) had not engaged with the survey at all.