Universiteit Leiden

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NSE 2019: Leiden students slightly happier

Leiden students are slightly happier with their study programmes than past year, according to the 2019 National Student Survey. The figures are still below the national average.

No fewer than 10,354 Leiden students  - 1,048 more than last year – completed the 2019 National Student Survey (NSE) 2019. Students at Dutch universities filled in an online questionnaire to indicate their level of satisfaction with different aspects of the teaching at their university. Although the Leiden response was two per cent higher, the national response was slightly lower than in previous years. The data are of sufficient quality to be used, as long as we remain aware that the CBS and we ourselves are not sure how representative the response is in relation to the whole student population.

Higher ratings compared to 2018

There are many areas in which the findings of the NSE are positive. Leiden students gave their overall studies a score of 4.01 on a 5-point scale. The scores for all 178 topics are between 3.15 and 4.02. This shows that Leiden students are on average relatively happy with their studies on all the points surveyed.  And not only that, students gave higher assessments than last year on almost all the different topics. The biggest increases compared to 2018 are ‘preparing for a professional career’, ‘information provision’, ‘quality assurance’ and ‘internationalisation’.  These are themes that have received more attention at Leiden University over the past few years, in the form of the Vision on Teaching and Learning, improvements to the quality assurance system and how information is provided to students.

Group size gets top score

Leiden students are particularly satisfied with the size of the classes, especially for tutorials, but also for lectures. They are also happy with the internships they have taken, more or less as happy as students at other institutions. If we zoom in on the 79 sub-topics about which students were asked, the specialist knowledge of lecturers scored highest, while the lowest score went to the opportunities for combining learning with working.

Many scores below the national average

Although the respondents did not indicate they were less happy than previously with any topic at all, Leiden students are generally less satisfied than students elsewhere: the Leiden scores are almost all below the national average. One exception is the students’ satisfaction with their lecturers, both nationally and within our university this theme scored an average of 3.84. Our university has had lower scores than the national average for several years; this is a signal that we take very seriously.

What are we going to do with these results?

In the coming period, the results will be further divided by programme (if the response is enough for that) and shared with the faculties and departments. The findings will then be analysed in more detail, and follow-up activities will be determined. The faculty management, quality assurance staff and heads of programmes will be closely involved in this, and the programme committees will also play an important role. In addition, in cooperation with communication staff, efforts will be made to provide better feedback to students and staff about what has emerged from the NSE, how positive points have been strengthened and, of course, how points for improvement will be tackled. We will be taking into account not only the NSE but also other quality assurance instruments such as programme evaluations and signals from staff and student participation bodies.


There was some excitement surrounding whether the results of the survey would actually become available. As a result of a combination of technical problems with the administrators of the NSE and the fact that students had to fill in their study programme and background information themselves (due to the new privacy rules), the completing of the survey did not work as it should for everyone. To ensure the reliability of the survey findings, a major repair was carried out to link the responses to the programme in which students are enrolled. Statics Netherlands (CBS) examined whether this action had the desired effect, and, fortunately, it did: the data are fit for use and can be published. However, the CBS also advised that users should remain alert to the fact that the response on which the findings are based and how representative the findings are have not been verified. 

Want to know more? Take a look at all the theme scores for Leiden University in the appendix to this article and see how the different programmes were assessed via the NSE Dashboard!

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