National (Unsatisfied) Student Survey 2009 – The Scottish Picture

The National Student Survey results has been published by HEFCE which has no doubt left school/department managers burning the midnight oil to see how they have faired. Feedback remains to be a talking point with only just over half of Scottish students agreeing or strongly agreeing that feedback has been prompt, detailed and helpful.

But what about the students who neither agree or disagree? If you turn the question around and ask what proportion of students disagree or strongly disagree with the level of feedback they receive then you are looking at approximately a quarter of students. Obviously this is still a substantial number and still makes feedback the worst performing area, but if you are drilling down into course level performance perhaps it is worth bearing in mind.

Table 1 below shows the results for the percentage of Scottish students who responded disagree or strongly disagree to the NSS questions.

Looking at how this analysis effects the overall satisfaction with Scottish HEIs the most notable changes are University of Stirling and Robert Gordon University who (by my calculations*) jump 2 rankings. Below (#) denotes rank.

University of St Andrews 91% (1) 3% (1)
University of Glasgow 91% (1) 5% (2)
University of Aberdeen 89% (3) 6% (4)
University of Stirling 88% (4) 5% (2)
University of Dundee 88% (4) 7% (5)
University of Strathclyde 87% (6) 7% (5)
Robert Gordon University 84% (7) 7% (5)
Glasgow Caledonian University 84% (7) 8% (8)
University of Edinburgh 82% (9) 9% (9)
Napier University 81% (10) 9% (9)
Heriot-Watt University 81% (10) 10% (11)
Glasgow School of Art 69% (12) 22% (12)

*Data provided by the NSS is susceptible to rounding errors. For example University of St. Andrews has an overall percentage agree for Q22 of 92% yet the percentage breakdown is 35% agree and 56% strongly agree, which equals 91%. To allow comparison with the percentage of disagreement, the sum of percentage of responses for agree and strongly agree have been used.

Table 1: Unofficial National Unsatisfied Student Survey (UNUSS)
Provisional sector results for Full-time students – Scotland Registered HEI (% of students who disagree/strongly disagree) extracted from HEFCE NSS 2009 Data

Question 2008 2009
The teaching on my course
1 – Staff are good at explaining things. 4 4
2 – Staff have made the subject interesting. 6 6
3 – Staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching. 4 4
4 – The course is intellectually stimulating. 5 5
Assessment and feedback
5 – The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance. 17 15
6 – Assessment arrangements and marking have been fair. 11 10
7 – Feedback on my work has been prompt. 28 27
8 – I have received detailed comments on my work. 29 27
9 – Feedback on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand. 27 25
Academic support
10 – I have received sufficient advice and support with my studies. 12 11
11 – I have been able to contact staff when I needed to. 6 7
12 – Good advice was available when I needed to make study choices. 13 12
Organisation and management
13 – The timetable works efficiently as far as my activities are concerned. 10 11
14 – Any changes in the course or teaching have been communicated effectively. 12 15
15 – The course is well organised and is running smoothly. 11 13
Learning resources
16 – The library resources and services are good enough for my needs. 12 11
17 – I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to. 6 6
18 – I have been able to access specialised equipment, facilities or room when I needed to. 6 6
Personal development
19 – The course has helped me present myself with confidence. 7 6
20 – My communication skills have improved. 5 4
21 – As a result of the course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems. 5 5
Overall satisfaction
22 – Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course. 7 7