Grace Mason, BA Study of Religions
This year’s National Student Survey from this year showed overall student satisfaction across SOAS remained at a high of 88%, the same percentage as SOAS’ 2013 survey. Compared to national statistics, the satisfaction of students at SOAS is 2% higher than the average.
Students in the Department of Development recorded exceptionally high levels of satisfaction at 97%, whilst the departments of Politics, Finance and Management, Law and Anthropology also recorded overall satisfaction levels of over 90%.
The NSS is a survey run by the polling company Ipsos-MORI on behalf of the government, and collects data to provide potential university students with information from a student’s perspective as to how they found their course and institution. Areas covered in the survey include standards of teaching, learning resources such as libraries and online content, and academic support. It also questions organisation and management, with one example question being the extent to which timetables are well organised and students are able to study the courses they wish to.
Questions are framed in which students answer questions to the extent they agree or disagree with statements being asked of them, as well as allowing a ‘free space’ to write any further positive or negative feedback.
The NSS has been known to cause some contention, with some students viewing the survey as a tool which further marketises higher education by providing data that contributes towards the ranking of universities.
Other students find it useful, as it gives an idea of perceived standards within courses and institutions. Problematically, completion of the survey is not compulsory, and so responses and results are tied to the satisfaction of students who feel the survey is a worthwhile endeavour. Despite the different views on the usefulness of the NSS, universities continue to use it to try and increase standards within their courses.