By Abbie Dodson
The National Student Survey, often abbreviated to ‘NSS’, has been held annually since 2005, and asks final year undergraduate students to provide answers to questions about their university or college. The survey is anonymous and is open between 7th January to the 30th of April this year. The survey asks respondents 27 questions about their time in higher education. Each question is linked with one of eight aspects of the student experience. The NSS is a widely recognised survey, with more than 7/10 of final year students completing it last year. That means almost 4 million students have participated!
So, with deadlines and exams fast approaching, is it really worth you taking time away from your studies to complete this survey? In short, yes, and here’s why. The results from the NSS are published, and the feedback given helps to improve student services at Universities and Students' Unions. It's your chance to say what you really thought about your University experience.
In the past, feedback from the NSS has helped to improve services within Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union. For example, following previous feedback, current Students' Union Education Officer, Sheriff, was able to get late fees for laptop rentals waived. Sheriff also managed to increase the rental period for laptops in the HUBS, raising this from 3 hours to 24. At the Students' Union, we also support Course Reps who are often the first port of call for students wanting to raise an issue about their course, and we have a free, independent Advice Centre in the HUBS to assist with any academic issues that students might be facing.
Other feedback from the NSS helped the Students' Union to improve our relationship with the local community through different volunteering and community action projects. We also host child-friendly cinema screenings and organise gigs and events which are open to the local public. It is important, as a Union, that we are integrated into the local community and offer local people access to fun, well-priced events. Other responses have helped us focus on life skills, leading to a Skills and Training Programme, and a Leadership Programme. These are run alongside the Hallam Award, which aims to credit students for their achievements and acknowledge them formally. The Hallam Award is also recognised by many employers so is beneficial for students after they finish university!
Past students told the SU that they wanted more opportunities to find where they belond at Hallam, so we helped to increase the number of societies, and put on a range of activities to help people meet others like them such as the commuters breakfast. At the Students’ Union, we are keen to promote this sense of belonging, and offer students places to meet up either for a cuppa at Coffee Union, or a delicious dinner at Hideout. Alongside this, we offer different spaces for students to hang out between lectures and host a wide array of different events celebrating the varied student community. We also support different liberation groups including disabled students, LGBT+ students, women students and BME students and campaigns, which amplify the voices of student groups across our campus.
So, will you be responding to the NSS this year? Will you be leaving feedback on Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union services? It can only benefit future students, and all information is anonymous. Why not? You’ve got nothing to lose.