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Promoting the NSS

Promotional Advice

We would like to ensure that we achieve as high a response rate as possible - the more students that complete the NSS, the more robust and representative the results will be.

The Student Communications and Engagement team will raise awareness across University-wide channels including

  • The weekly My Manchester Newsletter
  • The My Manchester student portal

However, to help push up response rates; these can be complemented by School and course level communications.

University Incentives 2022

This year, the University is offering a charity donation incentive to encourage students to complete the NSS:

For each response submitted the University will also make a £2 donation to charity. This will be done automatically and the amount will be split between the following four charities chosen by students:

  • University of Manchester Living Cost Support Fund. Open all year round, the Living Cost Support fund can award grants of up to £2000 to help students overcome financial hardship or unforeseen additional costs. The fund is open to all students at the University, regardless of level of study or nationality.
  • Refugee Women Connect work to build a safe life in the UK for all women in the refugee and asylum seeker communities. They offer practical support for women on a number of issues, including navigating the asylum process, support with accommodation and housing, educational access etc. They also offer bespoke one-to-one mental health support, as well as group activities to combat isolation and loneliness.
  • Greater Together Manchester is building effective partnerships in communities to bring about positive change by tackling poverty and transforming lives throughout Greater Manchester and Rossendale. Key areas of work include homelessness, loneliness and isolation, mental health and wellbeing, food insecurity and supporting displaced people.
  • Jump Space, based in Stockport provides rebound therapy and sensory play for disabled children and young people and their families. It provides a safe, fun, understanding and non-judgmental environment for disabled children and young people, many of whom are unable to access other forms of sport and activity.

Messages about this incentive will be included in communications from Ipsos Mori and Student Communications and Engagement, and can also be used in school and course promotional messages.

For further information please contact

School/course level communication

Staff who have regular contact with students are vital to increasing response rates, and there are several steps that student-facing staff can take to increase response rates, including:

  • Sending a pre-notification e-mail to eligible students ahead of the survey launch to let them know the survey is coming and to encourage completion.  E-mails are most effective when they come from a named, known individual e.g. course leader, Head of School or student support officer.
  • Discussing the survey with students you are tutoring, supervising or advising, and reminding them that responses are anonymous, so they should feel free to express their honest opinions.
  • Involving student reps in your survey planning and promotional strategy, and allowing them to do 'shout outs' in classes.
  • Giving students time in class to complete the survey or organising a dedicated session for students to complete the survey.
  • Running local incentives for students who complete the survey. Please note that completion of the survey cannot be a condition to entering a prize draw, please see the MRS guidelines on incentives, the school guidance available below or contact for more information. Also remember the University incentives can be used in all communications.

Promotional guidelines and inappropriate influence

Whatever promotional methods you choose to use, it is important to bear the following in mind:

  • It is crucial that local survey promotion is neutral and that students are targeted equally so that each eligible student is given a chance to express their views
  • Students should feel free to give honest feedback about their experiences without their responses being influenced by their institution
  • Communications should promote the survey not the institution
  • Communications should not influence the results of the survey, but rather aim to boost response rates

Inappropriate influence

If we are found to have been using inappropriate influence with respect to the NSS, the robustness of the data could be called into question. OfS could take action to suppress the affected NSS data in the specific year. This would mean that no NSS data would be published for the affected courses in the specific year and, as a result, it would not be available for marketing activities, learning enhancement work or inclusion on the Unistats website.

“Inappropriate Influence” is defined as “any activity or behaviour which may encourage students to reflect anything other than their true opinion of their experiences during their course in their NSS responses” Examples include:

  • Explicitly or implicitly instructing students on how to complete the survey, such as explaining the meanings of questions or the NSS response scale. The questions and scale are self-explanatory and students should be left to interpret these in a way they see fit.  Linking the NSS to league tables, job prospects and the perceived value of students’ degrees.  Do not tell students that negative responses could make their degrees look bad to future employers.
  • Arranging compulsory sessions for students to complete the NSS. Completion of the NSS, while beneficial to providers, is completely voluntary for students. While arranging completion sessions is allowed, providers should not enforce them nor make students feel there may be consequences should they not attend.
  • Taking students through the survey on an individual basis.  Do not stand or sit beside students when they are completing the survey, or take them through their responses question-by-question. Students should be given due privacy so they can respond with honesty.
  • Comparing the NSS response scale to other scales with different purposes, i.e. assignment marking schemes.

Remember to keep your information factual and avoid attempting, or appearing to attempt, to influence the way that students answer the questions.

Ipsos Mori have produced guidelines for survey promotion and much more details is provided in the documents available to download from the toolkit below. Please read this carefully.

If you are at all unsure about any aspect of survey promotion, please contact

Download promotional materials