Student Satisfaction Surveys
The University of Essex takes part in four major student surveys to
gauge overall satisfaction among students, across the different
years of study, in key areas. For example, surveys ask whether
degrees match expectations, whether staff are enthusiastic about
teaching and whether good resources, support and advice are
available to students during their course of study. Surveys
are undertaken during the spring term.
About the surveys
The National Student Survey (NSS)
For final year undergraduate students, this annual survey is
conducted by Ipsos-MORI on behalf of the Higher Education Funding
Council for England (HEFCE). It contains 23 questions in six groups,
and one on overall satisfaction. Online surveys also provide the
option for feedback and additional questions of our choice, such as
about careers, social opportunities and facilities, and free text
comments are encouraged. Results from the NSS feed in to University
league tables featured in national newspapers.
The 2014 NSS survey will run from
Friday 31 January until
follow this link to complete the survey.
The Student Satisfaction Survey (SSS)
Conducted each spring term by the University, this annual ‘in-house’
survey is aimed at students in all years not covered by the NSS and
all Postgraduate taught students (except those in the first
year of a part-time
post graduate taught programme). It
contains the same 23 questions as the NSS, arranged into six groups,
alongside a question on overall satisfaction and a number of
questions specific to the University of Essex, and all students can
add free text comments. The combined results of the NSS and SSS mean
we can gather results from students in all years of study.
The 2014 SSS survey will run from
Friday 31 January until
this link to complete the survey.
The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)
Run by the Higher Education Academy yearly, this surveys all
students* taking postgraduate taught courses, for example MAs and MScs. The University
participated in this survey in 2010. The survey asks students to comment on issues such as
the quality of teaching and learning, assessment and feedback and organisation and management.
that if you are in your first year of a part-time
post graduate taught programme you will not be invited to take part.
In 2014 the PTES survey will
Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)
Also run by the Higher Education Academy biennial, this surveys
all students undertaking postgraduate research courses.
The University of Essex participated for the fourth time in 2013.
In 2014 the PRES survey
will NOT run.
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How the surveys are run
All surveys are run principally online. The NSS is administered
by Ipsos-MORI and the SSS by the Academic
Registrar's team at the
University. The PTES and PRES are organised by the HE Academy using
an online survey facility provided by the University of Bristol.
Students that have not responded to the NSS after a few
weeks will be sent a questionnaire by post. Ipsos-MORI may also
telephone students towards the end of the survey, where they
identify that the response rate is low in a particular subject. The
SSS, PTES and PRES are only run online.
Questions about any aspect of the surveys should be sent to
The University is required to pass details of students in their
final year to Ipsos-MORI for the NSS. Students who do not complete
the questionnaire online are invited to fill in a hard copy
questionnaire. Each student has one attempt to complete the survey.
All responses are reported anonymously.
Data protection and opting-out
The University of Essex is required to pass details of students in
their final year to Ipsos-MORI for the NSS. This data is used only
for the survey and removed from their systems as soon as the survey
is over. Students who do not complete the questionnaire online are
invited to fill in a hard copy questionnaire. Each student has one
attempt to complete the survey. All responses are reported
anonymously. For full details of how this data is used visit the
page. The SSS is run by the University of Essex and uses contact
details directly from the Student Records Database which is covered
University of Essex data protection policy.
We use the information provided to help improve the services and
student experience we offer and comments always remain
anonymous. The PTES and PRES
asks for personal details in the
administration of the survey in order for us to
exclude students who have already completed the survey from further
mailings. Although personal details are
recorded alongside survey responses, we fully respect the
confidentiality of responses; reporting and analysis of responses
will always present anonymous data. Once the surveys are
completed personal details that may lead to the identification of an
individual student are removed from the data. Some demographic
information, such as gender, disability or ethnicity, is retained to
monitor responses and results for different groups. Results are not
published in groups where there are only small numbers of responses
that may lead to individuals being identifiable. Any student that
wishes to opt-out of any survey can do so by e-mailing 'surveys' (add
@essex.ac.uk if you are not e-mailing from campus) or to opt-out of
the NSS after mid-December preceding the survey contact Ipsos-MORI
directly. Any questions about student satisfaction surveys may be
e-mailed to ‘surveys’ (add @essex.ac.uk if you are not e-mailing from
The University will contact eligible students
by e-mail and text during the survey period. If a student does not
wish to receive any communications, they should e-mail 'surveys'
(add @essex.ac.uk if you are not e-mailing from campus) or call
01206 872987 and leave your full name and
registration number to opt out.
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NSS - Ipsos-MORI will select
six people at random from all
those that responded to the NSS online. Each person will be contacted
to ask if they are happy for their name to be passed back to the
University. The first person whose name
the University receive from Ipsos-MORI
will receive an iPad.
The second two names will receive a a full
Graduation package (including gown hire, reserved seating for guests
and a full photography package) and there are three third prize Amazon vouchers of
SSS - Six responses at random
are selected from all those who complete
The first person selected will win an iPad. There will be two second
prizes of an Annual Bus Pass for 2014/15. There will be three
third prizes of a £25 Amazon voucher.
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How we use the results
The University of Essex has a full procedure on
disseminating student survey results
is available online here. In brief, this involves the following
Understanding the NSS results
NSS results are not published per department because not all
university departments are the same. Different universities divide
their subjects up in different ways so the NSS reflects this by
publishing results using the universities sector-wide ‘joint
academic coding system’ (JACS). These codes can be grouped together
to give very broad subject groupings, such as Social Studies, made
up from a collection of more refined groups, such as Economics,
Politics or Sociology. NSS subjects are made up of a hierarchy of
three levels, each containing a number of groups from the level
below. The full hierarchy and explanation of the coding system is
Unistats and national media publication
Once available NSS results and many other statistics are published
at www.unistats.com, the
official website that helps students make an informed choice about
choosing which university to apply to. At this time NSS results are
also published in national newspapers’ University league tables and
the University will communicate the results internally and
externally to staff and students and in news releases.
Departments or Schools act on results
All results from the SSS, including free text comments, are
initially sent to Heads of Department or School, who are then responsible for
dealing with NSS and SSS results in accordance with
University of Essex procedure. The University’s
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Standards also reviews all SSS
reports, including free text comments, and Pro-Vice-Chancellors
review all SSS reports and free text comments for their Faculty’s
Departments. As a consequence, link PVCs usually discuss particular
issues with Heads of Department or School and refer them for further
The University’s Strategic
Planning and Change Section
provides a basic set of NSS results data for Departments, who may
request access to more detailed data. For Departments, surveys
supplement course-specific feedback received from students during
the Student Assessment of Courses and Teaching (SACT), a valuable
tool that also serves to improve. Heads of Department
or School subsequently
give feedback to staff and student liaison committees on action
taken in response to surveys.
Results inform strategic planning
Results are also considered at University level and are used to
inform the University's strategic planning processes with particular
reference to those areas that are most important to students. Survey
results also feed into annual programme monitoring and the annual
departmental planning cycle.
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