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Satisfaction rates higher than ever in UK’s NSS

The annual National Student Survey (NSS) in the UK, which polls final year undergraduate students about various aspects of their education experience, has revealed a 10-year high in overall satisfaction levels across students studying in the UK, with 86% indicating they were happy with their course.

The University of Bath scored the highest satisfaction rates for two years in a row – and the university has a comprehensive internationalisation strategy

Bath's location as the "safest city in the UK in which to study at university level" was one factor that helped the high rankings

The University of Bath remained in pole position in terms of a broad spectrum university with the highest institutional satisfaction score at 93%.

Teaching quality scored best across individual indicators, as 87% of the total 321,000 students (including overseas students) polled said they were happy with the teaching on their course (up one percentage point).

Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, commented, “I’m delighted to see record levels of student satisfaction this year, as well as marked improvements in satisfaction with assessment and feedback over the last decade.

‘The NSS is the largest survey of its kind in the UK. Over the last 10 years it has helped over 2 million students to make their voices heard about the things that matter to them, and has been fundamental to driving change in our universities and colleges.”

Aside from distance learning provider The Open University, the University of Bath is unique in being in the top spot for satisfaction ratings at an HEI for two years in a row.

Brian Greenwood, International Relations Officer for Middle East, Africa & Russia at the university, explained that “being able to share how happy our students are to future students really helps get the message across that studying in the UK isn’t just about studying in London and we are really proud of the achievement”.

He added, “We offer specific support through our International Student Advice Team and the Student’s Union for all aspects of an international student’s experience including different societies, immigration, buddy schemes and much more.

“As well as the NSS we invite all students to contribute in a number of ways to influence and improve their experience of studying with us. This can be through individual module evaluation, the international student barometer and the Student’s Union to name a few.”

The NSS covers all final year students working towards higher education qualifications at universities across the UK and it also encompasses further education (FE) colleges in England and Wales.

City of Bath College also scored highly, with an overall satisfaction score of 98%. Sarah Piggott, International Director, observed that Bath’s location as the “safest city in the UK in which to study at university level” was one factor that helped the high rankings.

The average satisfaction score in Scotland was in fact 87% – one percentage point higher than the national average

“We are pleased to see such high ratings but not surprised,” she told The PIE News. “City of Bath College puts teaching and learning at the centre of all its courses. Our student experience of teaching and learning and their achievement is what drives us.”

She added, “We have fantastic staff who know their subjects and care about all our students, international and home alike, and we have great links with industry helping our students to be work ready when they leave us.”

The latest NSS results were a chance for other regions or consortiums to highlight their relative success too.

At Universities Scotland, a spokesperson pointed out that the average satisfaction score in Scotland was in fact 87% – one percentage point higher than the national average.

“As well as being the best place to study in the UK, official figures published earlier this summer show Scottish universities are producing the UK’s most employable graduates with the best rates of positive destinations of work or further study,” added the spokesperson.

University of Exeter, another a high-ranked university with a 92% average score, noted that it had topped the Russell Group of elite universities with its NSS results.

It was pleased with large rises in satisfaction levels (up 4%), which it attributes to promptness of feedback and students receiving detailed comments on their work.

Prof Janice Kay, Provost at Exeter, said, “Over the years, we have listened carefully when students have highlighted areas for improvement, and responded to their concerns. This approach has paid dividends and ensured we have always been in the top ten in the UK for the last nine years.”

National Student Survey 2014: results by institution

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