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IR-MFF, Issue 10-2021: What can we learn from spring 2021 undergraduate and graduate student surveys?


Institutional Research Monthly-Friday Fact (IR-MFF), Issue 10-2021

Office of the Provost, Nazarbayev University

What can we learn from spring 2021 undergraduate and graduate student surveys?


In Spring 2021, NU Institutional Research and Analytics administered three surveys—First-Year Undergraduate ExperienceUndergraduate Exit, and Graduate Exit—to examine students’ perceptions and experiences. We briefly highlight some of the key findings, based on analyses of responses from 1,737 survey participants (72% response rate).

Results suggest that NU students were, in general, “highly” positive about their NU experiences. This trend is evidenced by high ratings on select composite indicators (Figure 1). Students also reported substantially high levels of graduate attribute attainment, learning gains, and individual development. A large majority (69-87%) were positive they would recommend NU to potential students.

Results also reveal several areas that need attention. Over 80% of graduate degree recipients were highly positive they would choose NU again. Corresponding percentages for bachelor’s degree recipients (60%) and first-year undergraduate students (55%), however, were substantially lower. Figure 2 reveals additional areas. For instance, less than half of the bachelor’s degree recipients would positively recommend or choose their major again (22% were positive they would not choose the same major; 30% were uncertain).

Satisfaction with course variety/availability was relatively low. Need for improvement in this area has historically been a top recommendation by NU students. Writing requires greater attention, particularly at undergraduate levels. So does time management (a weak skill across student levels).

At undergraduate levels, more particularly, a large gap emerged between perception of skills development (high ratings) and perceived career preparation (substantially lower ratings). Frequency of engagement in behaviors that are conducive to a successful academic experience continued to be relatively low (and even decreased further at undergraduate levels).

In sum, students generally had a highly positive NU experience. However, 2021 surveys also reveal the need for greater attention in several areas. Also, remote learning experience improved, though adaptation remained a major challenge for first-year undergraduate students.

We invite you to write to IR ( and (1) share your thoughts and experiences relative to the topic under discussion in this IR-MFF issue and/or (2) suggest a question/topic that you would like us to address in a future issue of the IR-MFF.

The IR-MFF is published every last Friday of the month (August through November and January through April). Depending on circumstances, it can be published before or after the last Friday of the month. Analyses are limited to 300 words or less (narrative text) and one or two graphs/tables. If you need more detailed information (methodological or otherwise), please contact Institutional Research and Analytics at