Really? Can it really be nearly that time of year again? It comes round so quickly doesn’t it?
No, not Christmas. It’s nearly National Student Survey time again. Shortly after the start of the new calendar year NSS 2016 launches – at Newcastle the Survey will launch on Monday 2 February. Sometimes it can feel as though there are some Groundhog Day elements to the NSS, but this year is different. 2016 will be the last time that NSS runs in its current format as HEFCE are planning a number of significant changes for NSS 2017.
The format of the NSS has remained pretty constant since it was launched in 2005. It surveys final year undergraduates. It uses the same 22 questions, with the addition of a question on Students’ Unions in 2012 being the only change. Such a period of calm, and lack of change, is somewhat unusual in UK higher education – and it’s about to end.
HEFCE have proposed that from NSS 2017:
- Seven of the existing questions should be dropped from the Survey – including all three on Personal Development and the question on Students’ Unions.
- Nine new questions should be added – four under the heading Academic Challenge and Integrative Learning; three on The Student Voice; and two on The Learning Community and Collaborative Learning.
- All three of the existing questions on Learning Resources should be re-worded, as should two of the questions on Assessment and Feedback.
Not quite all change, but if HEFCE goes ahead with these changes the NSS will look very different. I’ve uploaded a mock-up of what the new NSS 2017 would like under the proposals to highlight this, which was compiled by Corony Edwards at Exeter University (and which I’m uploading with Corony’s permission) – NSS 2017 Proposed Questions.
What it means is that NSS would start to take on a different character with a much greater focus on student engagement issues – both student engagement with their programmes, and student engagement as members of the academic communities in the departments/schools that deliver their programmes.
Of course this isn’t fixed and agreed yet. HEFCE have been consulting on this (the consultation closed last week), and it will be a while before the final outcome and the actual content of NSS 2017 is announced. But it seems pretty clear that as with most other things relating to learning and teaching and external ‘regulation’ (TEF, quality assessment) we’re about to enter a very different world.