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Warwick’s Student Union backs NSS boycott

Warwick’s Students’ Union (SU) Officers are campaigning to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS) due to their beliefs that it undervalues teaching and will allow tuition fees to increase further.

Every year students are contacted and asked to complete the NSS. The survey is aimed at final-year students and asks around 30 questions to gather information based on students’ learning experiences at their university.

Ipsos MORI, a market research agency, runs the survey on behalf of funding campaigns. The results of the NSS are then made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website.

According to the NSS, their aim is to build a broader picture of higher education in the UK and monitor trends over time.

However, the survey is also used by the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), a system which will use the data to assess universities and rank them as gold, silver or bronze depending on what they offer students.

Last term Warwick students voted to become part of a national campaign to boycott the NSS, which is also being supported by Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, UCL and other universities.

The SU Sabbatical Officers explain in their campaign that the TEF results will undervalue teaching and be used to justify universities raising tuition fees further with the potential for unlimited fees in the future. Therefore, they are asking all students to boycott the survey.

The message is simple: stop tuition fee rises, don’t devalue your degree, don’t fill out the NSS!

Hope Worsdale, Education Officer at Warwick

The National Union of Students (NUS) is also boycotting the NSS and plans to launch its own campaign this month. In their campaign, they state: “The government is creating a forced market of institutions charging higher different prices for degrees.”

According to the Guardian, Jo Johnson, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, said: “The framework will give students clear, understandable information about where the best teaching is on offer and for the first time place teaching quality on a par with research at our universities.”

Hope Worsdale, Education Officer at Warwick, said: “The TEF will not only undervalue teaching at many institutions, including Warwick, but it will also be used to justify raising tuition fees even further beyond the £9000 cap.

“Thousands of students across the country are taking part in this NSS boycott as the most direct way that students can disrupt these reforms, and last term Warwick students voted to join the campaign. The message is simple: stop tuition fee rises, don’t devalue your degree, don’t fill out the NSS!”

Arthi Nachiappan, a final-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics student, said: “Student surveys are by no way a robust measure of teaching quality, yet the NSS is used to measure a good chunk of the TEF’s main metrics.

“I think the NUS are right to make some sort of statement against the TEF which looks set to judge teaching quality based on a range of unrepresentative measures, but I am not sure if boycotting the NSS will only serve to distort the results further. I agree with the sentiment though.”


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