Assessment and feedback are interrelated challenges for higher education, being perceived as key facets of the quality assurance of degrees, and yet commonly found to be sources of dissatisfaction for students. We performed a thematic analysis on the free-text comments of the National Student Survey for a large, Scottish, Russell Group university and found recurring themes of alienation versus belonging in how the students discussed assessment. We used Social Identity Theory to explore these themes and concluded that assessment can act as a barrier between staff and students, especially where students are not given effective feedback. When students feel their assessment excludes them from a group (such as their discipline), they express dissatisfaction and frustration. This study adds to the growing body of work encouraging a dialogic approach to ensure students are able to make the best use of feedback, and suggests it may also have the encouraging side-effect of improving student satisfaction.