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Student voice

There are three major student satisfaction surveys that will go live in the Spring Term asking you, as an Essex student, to have your say about what it's like to study at Essex.

Each year it's important that as many students as possible take part, so we get a complete picture of what it's like to live and study at Essex. The feedback gained helps us to make students' experience here at Essex amazing, so improvements will take place where necessary. All surveys follow a similar format and cover most elements of University life, such as teaching, learning resources, accommodation and career development.

  • National Student Survey

    The National Student Survey (NSS) runs from January to April. The survey is for final year undergraduate students and is conducted by Ipsos-MORI on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

    Results from this are fed into university league tables that feature in national newspapers, and give us an idea of the thoughts of our final year students.

    The survey contains 34 questions in seven groups, and one on overall satisfaction. The survey also provides an option for feedback, and some additional questions of our choice, such as about the students' union, careers and social opportunities.

  • Student Satisfaction Survey

    Essex runs its own Student Satisfaction Survey (SSS) around the same time as the National Student Survey (NSS). This is a good way to let us know on a local level how well we're doing and where we can make improvements. It's also a good way to become familiar with how you might answer the National Student Survey (NSS) as a final-year undergraduate.

    The SSS is for all undergraduate students in all years not covered by the NSS and all postgraduate taught students (except those in the first year of a part-time postgraduate taught programme). It follows a simiar layout to the NSS, while containing some questions specific to Essex. All students can also add free text comments. The combined results of the NSS and SSS mean we can gather results from taught students in all years of study.

    SSS isn't running this year. If you'd like to know the results of the 2016 survey, please contact your departmental administrator or email

  • Postgraduate Research Experience Survey

    The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) is run by the Higher Education Academy every two years from April to May. It gives postgraduate research students the chance to feedback to us about their experience at Essex.

    The survey follows a different format from the Student Satisfaction Survey (SSS) and the National Student Survey (NSS) but offers question groupings such as, supervision, research culture, responsibilities and professional development.

    PRES isn't running this year. If you'd like to know the results of the 2016 survey, please contact your departmental administrator, email or read the national results of the survey from the 123 participating institutions.

About the surveys

  • How the surveys are run

    All surveys are run principally online. Students that have not responded to the NSS after a few weeks will be sent a questionnaire by post. Ipsos-MORI may also telephone students towards the end of the survey, where they identify that the response rate is low in a particular subject.

    The other surveys are only run online. Each student has one attempt to complete a survey. All responses are reported anonymously. If you have any questions about any aspect of the surveys email

  • Data protection and opting out

    The University is required to pass details of students in their final year to Ipsos-MORI for the National Student Survey (NSS). This data is used only for the survey and removed from their systems as soon as the survey is over. All responses are reported anonymously. Find out more about the National Student Survey.

    The Student Satisfaction Survey is run by the University of Essex and uses contact details directly from the Student Records Database which is covered under the University of Essex data protection policy.

    How we use the information

    We use the information provided to help improve the services and student experience we offer. The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey ask for personal details in the administration of the survey in order for us to exclude students who have already completed the survey from further mailings.

    Although personal details are recorded alongside survey responses, we fully respect the confidentiality of responses; reporting and analysis of responses will always present anonymous data. Once the surveys are completed personal details that may lead to the identification of an individual student are removed from the data. Some demographic information, such as gender, disability or ethnicity, is retained to monitor responses and results for different groups. Results are not published in groups where there are only small numbers of responses that may lead to individuals being identifiable.

    Opting out

    The University will contact eligible students by email and text during the survey period. If you do not wish to receive any communications and/or want to opt out of any survey can do so by emailing or calling 01206 872987, leaving your full name and registration number. To opt out of the NSS contact Ipsos-MORI directly after mid-December preceding the survey.

  • Prize information

    National Student Survey

    Ipsos-MORI will select six people at random from all those that responded to the NSS online. Each person will be contacted to ask if they are happy for their name to be passed back to the University. The first person whose name the University receive from Ipsos-MORI will receive an iPad. The second two names will receive a full Graduation package (including gown hire, reserved seating for guests and a full photography package) and there are three third prize Amazon vouchers of £25.

    Student Satisfaction Survey

    Six responses at random are selected from all those who complete the survey. The first person selected will win an iPad. There will be two second prizes of an annual bus pass for 2016-17 (or full Graduation package, if the prize-winner is a postgraduate taught student in their final year). There will be three third prizes of a £25 Amazon voucher.

  • How we use the results

    The University of Essex has a full procedure on disseminating student survey results. In brief, this involves the following activity.

    Understanding the National Student Survey results

    National Student Survey (NSS) results are not published per department because not all university departments are the same. Different universities divide their subjects up in different ways so the NSS reflects this by publishing results using the universities sector-wide ‘joint academic coding system’ (JACS). These codes can be grouped together to give very broad subject groupings, such as social studies, made up from a collection of more refined groups, such as economics, politics or sociology. NSS subjects are made up of a hierarchy of three levels, each containing a number of groups from the level below.

    Unistats and national media publication

    Once available NSS results and many other statistics are published on Unistats, the official website that helps students make an informed choice about choosing which university to apply to. At this time NSS results are also published in national newspapers’ university league tables and the University will communicate the results internally and externally to staff and students and in news releases.

    Departments or schools act on results

    All results from the Student Satisfaction Survey, including free text comments, are initially sent to heads of department or school, who are then responsible for dealing with NSS and SSS results in accordance with University of Essex procedure. The University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education also reviews all SSS reports, including free text comments, and Pro-Vice-Chancellors review all SSS reports and free text comments for their faculty’s departments. As a consequence, link PVCs usually discuss particular issues with heads of department or school and refer them for further discussion.

    The University’s Strategic Planning and Change Section provides a basic set of NSS results data for departments, who may request access to more detailed data. For departments, surveys supplement course-specific feedback received from students during the Student Assessment of Modules and Teaching (SAMT), a valuable tool that also serves to improve the quality of your educational and student experience before you reach the end of your programme. Heads of department or school subsequently give feedback to staff and student liaison committees on action taken in response to surveys.

    Results inform strategic planning

    Results are also considered at University level and are used to inform the University's strategic planning processes with particular reference to those areas that are most important to students. Survey results also feed into annual programme monitoring and the annual departmental planning cycle.