Universiteit Leiden

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NSE 2019: Leiden students slightly happier

Compared to last year, Leiden students are slightly happier with their study programmes, although the figures are still below the national average. These are the first results from the 2019 National Student Survey.

No fewer than 10,354 Leiden students  - 1,048 more than last year – completed the 2019 National Student Survey (NSE) 2019. Students filled in an online questionnaire to indicate their level of satisfaction with different aspects of the teaching at their university. The national response was lower than in previous years, but 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.

We would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all those students who completed the NSE for taking the time to let their views be heard. Your input means that the university can now use the findings of the NSE for providing information on studies and for quality assurance purposes. For every respondent, the LUF made a contribution of €0.25 to the UAF Refugee Fund.

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 scores 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. This is nothing new – our university has had lower scores than the national average for several years. As a university, we take that signal very seriously and we are committed to improving the quality of our education and the satisfaction of our students.

What are we going to do with these findings?

In the coming period, the findings 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.  This is mainly the task of the quality assurance staff within the faculties, but the programme committees will also have an important role  in this! You will hear from your department over the coming period what the NSE says about your programme, how positive points have been strengthened and, of course, how areas for improvement will be tackled. The improvements we make to our teaching are not based only on the NSE.  Instruments such as course and programme evaluations and signals from programme committees and assessors also help us to identify what is working well in teaching and what needs further attention.


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 tot he 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 the theme scores for Leiden University in the appendix to this article and check out how your programme was assessed via the NSE Dashboard!

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