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Student Experience Survey Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Institutional Student Experience Surveys?

The National Student Survey (NSS) is a national online survey about final year undergraduates' satisfaction with their teaching and learning experience.  All publically funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are required to take part.

The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is an optional national online survey about taught postgraduates' satisfaction with their teaching and learning experience.

The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) is an optional national online survey about research students' satisfaction with their researcher developer experience.

Unit Surveys are internal module evaluation questionnaires for taught students.

What are the topics?

NSS:  There are 8 main sections: Teaching, Learning Opportunities, Assessment & Feedback, Academic Support, Organisation & Management, Learning Resources, Learning Community, Student Voice.

These are followed by the summary question "Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course" and an opportunity for free text comments.

'Overall Satisfaction', question 27, is the question that is used by the University as its Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for Student Satisfaction.

PTES: PTES has 7 main sections:  Teaching & Learning, Engagement, Assessment & Feedback, Dissertation or Major Project, Organisation & Management, Resources and Services, Skills Development. These are followed by the summary question, 'Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course' and the opportunity to comment on 'one thing that has been most enjoyable or interesting on your course' and 'one thing that would most improve your experience of your course'.  There is also an open comment question at the end of each section. 



Who runs them?

The NSS is run by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS).

PTES and PRES are organised by the Higher Education Academy but delivered locally by The University of Manchester.

Unit Surveys are run by the Directorate of Teaching, Learning and Student Development (TLSD), in the Directorate for the Student Experience, The University of Manchester

When do they take place?

NSS: annually at the end of Semester 1 until end of April

PTES: currently in alternate years, at the end of Semester 1 until end of April/early May

PRES:  currently in alternate years between the period March - May

Unit Surveys: at the end of each semester

How are students contacted?

Students receive emails with their personal link to the survey in question, and can also access it via My Manchester.

For students who are unsure if they have received their email, the simplest response is to direct them to login to My Manchester where, if they are eligible for the survey and have not already completed it, they will see the relevant link.

Initial emails are sent by Ipsos MORI in respect of NSS, and by The University of Manchester for the other surveys.  There is also an accompanying promotional campaign LINK.

Schools and subject areas are strongly encouraged to develop their own promotional campaign alongside that of the University as local recommendation is by far the most effective way of raising response rates. 

Additional advice and information about promoting the survey is available in the toolkits.

NSS:  The first contact is by email, followed by text and finally telephone calls.  Once students have done the survey they will not be contacted again.



Unit Surveys:

I think some of my students may not have been included in the sample.  What should I do?

Please send their names and id numbers to and we will investigate. 

Can students opt out?

Yes.  They can either notify the Records Management Office prior to the submission date (end of November), or they can opt out at any time by following directions available from My Manchester. 

What about Data Protection? Are students aware that their contact details will be released to a third party?

Information about the various bodies to which students' personal data may be released are given in the University's data protection policy and Registered Student Privacy Notice which is published in My Manchester and also made available to students during online registration. The National Student Survey is included in this statement.

The Higher Education Academy does not have access to students' personal data from PTES or PRES.

What happens to the results?

The University uses NSS, PTES & PRES results to measure the levels of student satisfaction with the teaching and learning experience, and to identify areas for improvement.  The findings contribute to the University's internal performance review, policy making and strategic planning processes.

HEFCE uses NSS results  to give prospective students information which will help them to choose a University and degree programme.  They do this through the Discover Uni website (which replaced the Unistats website in September 2019) and via Key Information Sets (KIS). See further information about Discover Uni on the HESA website.

The media use NSS results to inform debate about the provision of Higher Education and to contribute to the construction of University league tables.

Only the NSS results are available outside the University, to members of the public and the media.

Where can I see the results?

Visit Student Surveys and follow the links to the various different surveys.

Where can I get further information?

NSS, PTES and Unit Surveys: Contact the Teaching and Learning Support Office, Directorate for the Student Experience: email

PRES: contact the Graduate Education Team

Related links