The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) were released today. The NSS is an annual survey of final-year undergraduates across all UK universities. This year, a total of 2064 eligible students completed the questionnaire, corresponding to a 66% response rate.
Overall, 90% of respondents were satisfied with their studies at Cambridge, an excellent result which lies above sector average. Students particularly expressed satisfaction with the teaching quality on their courses, the learning resources provided and the academic support they received.
Nonetheless, CUSU wish to highlight three key areas of improvement:
The intensity of student workload presents an ongoing problem in Cambridge. Accordingly just over half of NSS respondents agreed that the workload on their course was manageable. Only 37% of students felt that they were given enough time to understand the things they were learning, and less than a third agreed that the volume of work on their course allowed them to complete assignments to their own satisfaction.
On average, female undergraduates felt under greater strain than their male counterparts. 48% of women found their workload manageable, compared to 59% of men, while 45% of men and only 32% of women did not feel that their course applied unnecessary pressure on them as students.
Interestingly, whilst almost 9 in 10 students have had the opportunity to provide feedback on all aspects of their course, only 54% agreed that this feedback was listened to and valued, and less than half understood how their comments were acted upon.
Marking criteria and examinations
Within the six NSS core areas, Cambridge scored lowest in the Assessment and Feedback section, as in previous years. Specifically, only 60% of respondents agreed that the criteria used in marking had been made clear in advance. This result has not improved from last year’s and lies far below the sector average.
CUSU recognises that the University is aware of and has begun to address many of these issues. We look forward to contributing to the ongoing reviews of both student workload and examinations which we hope will play a part in resolving these problems. We will be consulting as many students as we can on these important issues throughout the year.
In order to ensure students are able to feed into their course and see improvements based on their comments, CUSU will work closely with Faculties and student representatives.
Any further enquiries and requests for comment can be directed to Roberta Huldisch, CUSU’s sabbatical Education Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org. CUSU is always happy to hear from students about the NSS results and our plans for the coming year.