NSS results demonstrate ‘signs of post-pandemic recovery’

Results from the National Student Survey suggest students are increasingly satisfied with their access to resources – but less content with the quality of teaching

The National Student Survey 2022 has suggested that students finishing their undergraduate studies are more satisfied with their higher education experience than those of the pandemic years.

The survey of 325,000 students across the UK suggests an increased number of students that “rat[e] their access to resources positively, while views of teaching quality still lag behind pre-pandemic levels”.

Among English providers, there had been “some overall improvements in students’ views about the quality of their education”, the Office for Students said. The English HE regulator observed “significant variation” between courses: “While many subjects have shown signs of post-pandemic recovery, there is a small further dip in positive ratings for medicine and dentistry, and physical sciences, on the teaching quality questions.”

Over three-quarters (77%) in England agreed that IT resources and facilities supported learning well, compared to 72% in 2021. Students scored library resources, including online resources and digital deposits, and course-specific content, including facilities, software and collections, highly, achieving between 77% and 83% satisfaction. Eighty per cent said their lecturers were easily contactable. Student unions continue to score poorly in relation to other aspects covered by the survey, with just 52% considering their SU effectively represents their academic interests.

The inclusion of a question on satisfaction in next year’s survey has yet to be decided – but plans for its future are to be set out later this summer, a source at the OfS implied.

Susan Lapworth, interim chief executive of the Office for Students, said: “This year’s graduates bore the brunt of the pandemic, with much of their time at university affected by lockdowns and other restrictions on student life. The NSS has played an important role in capturing students’ views during this extraordinarily difficult time for students and university staff. This year’s results show that there is still more to do if students’ views of the quality of their course are to improve to pre-pandemic levels. This should be an immediate priority for many universities and colleges.

“Universities and colleges have – by and large – worked hard to return to in-person teaching and ensure students have access to the facilities they need for successful study. It is, therefore, welcome to see a marked increase in the proportion of students agreeing that the resources universities and colleges offer are up to scratch. But on this – and every measure – there are substantial differences in students’ views depending on which subject they study.

“Each university and college will now want to reflect on its results to ensure that the quality of courses remains high. The OfS is stepping up its interventions to ensure that students from all backgrounds have a high-quality education and we will draw on NSS outcomes to inform our work.”

Read more: NSS should not include questions on free speech, says vice-chancellor

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