The NSS is a valuable source of information for higher education providers and prospective students. So it’s important to ensure the integrity of the NSS data.
Users of the data need to know that students who complete the survey have not been influenced by their higher education provider, or any other parties, to respond in a way that doesn’t reflect their true opinion.
Good practice guide
Ipsos MORI gives all providers taking part in the NSS a good practice guide to help them avoid inappropriate influence when promoting the NSS.
In addition to the good practice guide, Ipsos MORI has put together a list of dos and don'ts to support providers. These are summarised below, or you can download them as a PDF.
- Run a neutral campaign that focuses solely on boosting responses in the NSS.
- Provide examples of where previous NSS feedback has resulted in specific improvements at the university or college.
- Encourage eligible students to participate.
- Allow students to give their feedback regardless of their opinion.
- Be wary of tone and use of language when discussing the NSS - keep it neutral.
- Target promotion in departments or courses with low response rates.
- Inform students that they are free to interpret the survey questions how they wish - questions for the NSS are self-explanatory.
- Hold voluntary NSS completion sessions.
- Ensure students have total privacy when completing the survey.
- Use incentives or a prize draw to promote the survey.
- Ensure that all staff are aware of the guidelines.
- Embed NSS marketing activity in broader provider promotional activities, for example ‘Pride’ and ‘I Love’ campaigns - there must be a clear division.
- Combine the NSS with other surveys being undertaken at the provider.
- Advise students on how to interpret the survey questions or response scale.
- Advise or ask students to respond in a certain way.
- Make entering a prize draw conditional on completing the NSS.
- Link the NSS to league tables, the TEF, job prospects and the perceived value of students’ degrees.
- Indicate that the survey is compulsory.
- Make it a requirement or pressure students to attend dedicated NSS sessions.
- Take students through the survey on an individual basis.
- Complete the survey on behalf of the student.
We have also produced guidance on inappropriate influence for students.
How to report inappropriate influence
The OfS is responsible for managing the process of investigating concerns that students have been inappropriately influenced.
To raise a concern, email [email protected].
If the concern relates to a provider outside England, the OfS will liaise with the relevant funding body.
Read the NSS allegations procedure
The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) has published the allegations procedure in Welsh (Cymraeg).
Please read our privacy notice for NSS allegations for details of how we will use your personal information if you make an allegation of inappropriate influence.
Consequences of inappropriate influence
If an investigation were to find that promotional activities or marketing materials had resulted in inappropriate influence, whether intentional or unintentional, the integrity of the NSS data could be called into question.
The OfS (in partnership with the relevant funding partners) could take action to suppress the affected NSS data for the provider.
This means that no NSS results would be published for the affected courses at the provider that year.
Broader data integrity concerns
Concerns about other aspects of NSS data integrity may be raised and resolved through other routes, depending on the nature of the issue.
||Who to contact
|Concerns about the use of data by providers
The Advertising Standards Authority or the Competition and Markets Authority.
|Concerns about financial irregularity and impropriety, waste and fraud at funded providers
For England, concerns should be routed through the OfS’s complaints and notifications process.
For Wales, concerns should be routed through [email protected].
For Scotland, concerns should be routed through [email protected].
For Ireland, concerns should be routed through [email protected].
|Institutional data amendments or errors
A number of different data sources are used for the NSS and Discover Uni and sometimes providers request that this data be amended.
The OfS’s data amendments panel assesses all proposed amendments and judges whether the identified errors are widespread and significant enough to require action.
For the NSS, the OfS assesses these amendments on behalf of the UK funding and regulatory bodies.