Teaching & Learning


The Student Experience Survey (SES): what is it and why is it important?

24 February 2021

The UCL Student Experience Survey (SES) launches on Monday 1 March for penultimate year students.

Students in masks gathered chatting on a bench

About the SES

After being unable to run last year during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Student Experience Survey (SES) returns this year, launching on Monday 1 March. This is a valuable opportunity for academic departments to understand how their students are feeling about UCL and their programme.

The SES is run by UCL to gather feedback from penultimate year undergraduates. The structure of the survey mirrors that of the National Student Survey (NSS) taken by finalists and is especially useful in spotting and resolving issues whilst students are still at UCL.

Why is it important for UCL? 

Student representatives have fed back to us that the SES is particularly useful as an timely indication of any issues that might be concerning students as they progress in their programme of study. It is especially crucial for students this year as they help to inform us of what is or is not working well in their Connected Learning experience.

Schools and departments can also consider the findings of the SES as part of the Annual Student Experience Review (ASER) data and develop plans to address issues before students finish their programmes.

Departments can then demonstrate how they have acted on SES feedback to improve the student experience. In this way, suggestions from students’ SES responses have an opportunity to positively influence their NSS scores the following year. For example, NSS Question 25 examines the extent to which ‘It is clear how students’ feedback on the course has been acted on.

Creating familiarity with the NSS

The SES is particularly helpful for students as it allows them to familiarise themselves with the structure and question style of the NSS.

This year has presented no small number of challenges to the teaching and learning experience at UCL and it's fair to say our students' input and feedback have been central to shaping our response. I'm conscious we are still juggling so much, but I'd encourage colleagues to maintain this dialogue by sharing the SES with eligible students in your programmes. These opportunities to get a snapshot of how we're doing and where we could better focus our energies can help to keep us on the right track during this period of uncertainty. - Deborah Gill, Director of UCL Medical School and Pro Vice-Provost (Student Experience). 

Collecting more responses helps students raise issues that can then be rectified before they take the NSS, and in turn will help UCL build a more consistent and ongoing conversation with its students.

Look out for the campaign

The 2021 campaign to promote the survey will be digitally-focussed. Staff can access promotional materials via the Teaching and Learning Portal. Eligible students will receive an email with a direct link to the survey and the Student Engagement team will also contact with departmental survey liaison officers and Heads of Department to encourage support for the campaign.

There is also an exciting incentive for penultimate-year students who complete the survey. The top prize on offer is £500 cash followed by an opportunity to win one of 50 £10 Amazon vouchers.