Student News and Events

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The Brighton Student Survey – frequently asked questions

What is the BSS?

From January 2016 the Brighton Student Survey will be the University’s principal method for canvassing opinions from first, second and some of our third year undergraduate students who are not yet completing the National Student Survey (NSS). The BSS (which will be based on the same questions as the NSS) will launch on the same date as the NSS (Monday 11 January) and run for a six-week period (until 21 February). It will be available online – run internally from the Strategic Planning and Projects Office (using Bristol Online Surveys). A Project Board, chaired by Stephen Denyer and including our Students’ Union, is supporting the process. Eligible students will receive an email (to their University email account) from  Stephen Denyer and the President of our Students’ Union, Hayley Wood with a  link to the survey — and a number of reminder email messages to complete it.

Why run the BSS?

The main purpose of the BSS is to help us enhance the undergraduate student experience. It will allow us to collect opinions and feedback in a uniform and consistent way and, more significantly, provides the opportunity to feed back actions and/or explanations to our students whilst they remain on their programme of study. In addition to the commitment to the BSS in our Next Level strategy, our Student Engagement in Quality policy aims to: “ensure that the University has a consistent and effective approach to student engagement in quality by providing opportunities for all students to be actively involved in its quality processes throughout their higher education journey.” One of the core principles underpinning this policy is that: “feedback is collected, analysed and actions reported in a systematic way. Students are informed about how their feedback has been acted upon (including where change is not possible) in order to close the ‘feedback loop’.” Department/School input to our National Student Survey (NSS) action-planning process has been extremely welcome. We are sure you will appreciate the need to bring similar consistency to surveying other student year groups, if the University is to maximise its collective resources and to respond effectively and efficiently to student feedback.

How will the survey be managed?

A BSS Project Board has been established, with Stephen Denyer as sponsor. Members are as follows:

BSS FAQ roles

Survey responses will be received and analysed by the Strategic Planning and Projects Office, on behalf of the BSS Project Board. The anonymity of respondents will be preserved and results will not be made available in such a way as to identify individuals.

What is the target audience?

Overall, the BSS will be available for the majority of our undergraduate students who are not completing the NSS. There will, of course, be some exceptions – for example, students on their sandwich year out. The Project Board is working on the precise survey population. Should you have any questions about this in the meantime, please contact our project manager Phil Mandy (see below).

What does this mean for my locally run course survey(s)?

The main purpose of the BSS is to help us enhance the undergraduate student experience. It will allow us to collect opinions in a uniform and consistent way and, more significantly, provides the opportunity to feed back actions and/or explanations to our students whilst they remain on their programme of study. We want the BSS to be the primary evaluation mechanism by which we secure student views about their course and enable course teams to take action where necessary, rather than an additional survey for students to complete. To this end, the aim is that the BSS will replace existing course evaluation surveys. If there are concerns that some courses need different/additional questions at a different time, please contact Phil Mandy. Module-based surveys are expected to continue according to current school arrangements for the next academic year, but these will be harmonised for 2016-17.

Why launch in January?

The BSS will be launched at the same time as the NSS so that there is a period across the institution when the vast majority of our undergraduate student population is being surveyed about their academic experience. The survey will capture views at a mid-point in the year, which allows issues to be addressed within the year. The requirement for a more effective, efficient and joined up process of course evaluation across the university, will need your support to make the BSS successful. How will the survey be communicated?     It is extremely important that Heads of School, course leaders and other relevant staff encourage eligible students to complete the BSS. Phil Mandy will liaise with the     newly-recruited ‘Student Engagement in Quality Champions’ in each School, who will also play a key role in raising awareness and participation. The Project Board has approved a communications plan from Marketing and Communications, working jointly with the Students’ Union. Care will be taken to be mindful of assessment periods, with a pause in internal communications to students during this time. The communications plan includes similar activity to the NSS, however it is important to note that NSS guidance states that this survey must be communicated to students entirely separately from other surveys.

Will the BSS be incentivised?

The BSS will be incentivised with £50 vouchers in the same way as the NSS. Names will be separated from survey responses for the prize draw, to ensure anonymity is protected. How will I be able to monitor my course’s response rate? BSS response rate updates (and NSS too) will be available throughout the survey fieldwork period in a new QlikView response rate monitoring application.  This is in development at the moment.  Further information to follow from SPPO.

What is the timetable for results?

A final response rate report will be available at the end of February and the initial results at University, School and course level will be made available via a new Qlikview analysis tool at the end of March. .What will happen as a result of the BSS? Course leaders will share the results of the BSS with students at the start of the summer term, after which action plans will be developed (in a similar format to the NSS action plans). It is anticipated that, wherever possible, actions will be undertaken before the next year — but of course, some will continue into the next academic year. It will be particularly important to let students know the outcomes of the survey as soon as possible and to let them know what actions have been taken as a result.

How will queries be handled? Please contact Phil Mandy, BSS Project Manager with any questions at

Ed Bending • 23 November 2015

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