Academic Quality and Partnerships

What staff need to know about the NSS

Many of the common questions relating to the National Student Survey at Sussex are answered on this page.

If you have a question which has not been answered below, please contact the Student Voice Team.

What is the NSS?

The NSS is a UK wide survey of all final year undergraduate students to give feedback on what it's been like to study on their course.

The survey is commissioned by the Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in England.  The University is required to participate in the NSS as an ongoing condition of our registration with the OfS.

The NSS is conducted on behalf of the OfS by the external polling company Ipsos MORI.

If you have a question which has not been answered below, please get in touch with the Student Voice Team.

Why is the NSS important to Sussex?

The survey gives us key insights into the experiences of students across their entire time at University. The results are used to make important enhancements to our courses and the services and resources that we provide to our students. The results are also published by the OfS and will feature in league tables.  The results will also feature on the Discover Uni website (where a sufficient number of students have responded) and will help prospective students make choices about where and what to study.

When does the NSS launch at Sussex?

The survey launches at Sussex on the 10 January 2022.  Students can access the survey from the 6 January.

When does the NSS close at Sussex?

The survey will close nationally on 30 April 2022.

Which students are eligible to take the NSS in 2022?

Our list of students eligible to take the NSS in 2022 is generated from our HESA 2020-21 Student Data Return and includes undergraduate students expected to finish their course between 1 February 2022 and 31 January 2023.  

How do students take part?

Students will receive an email direct from Ipsos MORI, the company that manages the survey on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS), on 13 January inviting them to take the survey.  This email will contain a unique link which will take them directly to the survey.  The survey can be completed via a PC, on a tablet or a phone.  An email reminder will be sent on the 17 January.

Students who have not completed the survey by the end of January will be contacted by phone to participate in the survey.

Students can also go direct to The Student Survey website and enter their student details to participate any time until 30th April 2022.

Can students opt out of taking the NSS?

Yes, if a student does not wish to take part in the survey they will need to contact Ipsos MORI directly and indicate that they wish to opt out of the survey.  Unless a student deliberately opts out, Ipsos MORI will continue to make contact throughout the survey window.

What if a student finds they are not eligible for the survey?

The eligibility criteria for students are listed in detail on the official student survey website.

Students are also able to contact the NSS team by email to confirm their eligibility.

Any student who thinks they are eligible to take the survey but have not heard from Ipsos MORI by the 15 January should contact D.S.Cooper@sussex.ac.uk by the 14 February 2022.  Any additions must be confirmed with Ipsos MORI by the 1 March - no additions can be made after this date.

What incentives are available for students?

This year the University is offering five Graduation Packages (consists of hire of gown, 2 guest tickets and basic photo package) to students who complete the online survey by 27 February 2022.   The winners of these prizes will be picked at random by Ipsos MORI on the 28 February.  These prizes are not available to students who complete the survey by phone after being contacted by Ipsos MORI.

How do students enter into the prize draw?

Students who complete the survey online will be invited to enter into the prize draw when they finish the survey online. 

What incentives are available for Schools?

There will be no incentives this year for schools reaching threshold response rates. 

What are the rules for how we promote the NSS?

The NSS 2021 Good Practice Guide published by Ipsos MORI is available here.

A presentation for staff involved in the promotion of the NSS will follow. 

Is there a student boycott of the NSS this year?

There is no student boycott of the NSS this year.

What is inappropriate influence?

It is really important that each student's response to the NSS reflects what they think about their course and their experience during their time at Sussex.  The University is allowed to promote the NSS and to encourage students to take part; we are not allowed to try to influence how students respond - this is known as inappropriate influence

The Office for Students (OfS) defines this as 'any activity which may encourage students to reflect anything other than their true opinion of their experience during their course in their NSS responses'.

The OfS has published a guide https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/nss-influence/

What are we allowed to do?
  • We can encourage students to take part in the survey
  • We can give examples of where previous NSS feedback has resulted in positive improvements
  • We must allow students to give feedback regardless of their opnion
  • Inform students that they are free to inpret the survey questions how they wish
  • Ensure students have total privacy when completing the survey
  • Give students space at the end of a teaching session to complete the survey
What we must do to avoid inappropriate influence?

Some examples of things to avoid include:

  • We must not pressure students to do the NSS
  • We must not indicate that the NSS is compulsory
  • We must not advise students how to intepret the questions or the response scales
  • Advise or ask students to respond in a certain way
  • Link the NSS to league tables
  • Give any indication that a negative response to the NSS could make their degree look bad to future employers
  • We must not take students through the survey on an individual basis or do the survey for them
  • We should all avoid expressing our personal opinions on the NSS or how it is used
What to do if a student raising a concern about inappropriate influence?

if students are concerned that they have been inappropriately influenced they can notify the Office for Students

NSSallegations@officeforstudents.org.uk