Rachel Brock

National Student Survey Boycott Success

We’ve all seen the posters and shirts spread across the Guild that warn us against filling in the National Student Survey. As a student in their final year at university, I personally receive at least a phone call a week from Edinburgh asking me to participate, and my Inbox is full of similar emails. The constant contact is belligerent and inescapable. Saying that you’re participating in the boycott doesn’t get you taken off any contact lists, no matter what they tell you over the phone, and some days it begins to wear you down. However, for all students feeling disheartened by the seemingly never-ending commitment that the boycott is taking, the NUS Press Team has some good news.

The NUS has revealed that because of the boycott, results from the National Student Survey are expected to be considered invalid for at least nine universities this year. Completion rates are at record lows, especially in Russell Group Universities, with some universities reporting figures as low as 27.5%. The boycott is working.

For those of you who may not be aware of the boycott and why it is happening, here is a quick summary. The government is introducing a rating system called the Teaching Excellence Framework, which will rank universities as Gold, Silver or Bronze, adding an unnecessary level of competition and dysfunction into a university system that is already suffering. These rankings will be based upon NSS results, drop out rates, and student graduate jobs and salaries, and once they have been decided they will be used to raise tuition fees at universities deemed to be “successful”. This will increase inequality, damage university reputations, and make it harder for lower income students to achieve success. This is one of the many concerning consequences that could be triggered by the completion of the NSS and the passing of the government’s Higher Education and Research Bill (which includes the use of the TEF to raise fees).

The NUS is currently working hard to put an end to the TEF (Image Credits: NUS.org.uk)

By boycotting the survey, final year students have been able to send a message to the government that we do not approve of their methods or their plan for our education system. Sorana Vieru, the Vice President of Higher Education at the NUS, has released this statement:

“The fact that thousands of students across the country have decided to boycott the National Student Survey shows how strongly they feel about the Government using their feedback to raise tuition fees. Jo Johnson has said countless times that he wants to create a system that listens to students and works in their interests. Well, students have spoken loud and clear. Now it is time for the Minister to act, and halt these damaging reforms.”

The boycott of the NSS has allowed students to make their voices heard in a climate that has proved frustrating and inaccessible for the younger generations, and it has allowed us to separate ourselves from any future fee raises, thereby stripping them of any legitimacy that they could claim. The Higher Education and Research Bill is expected to go back to the House of Commons for final debate next week, and the NUS is hoping that the imminent election will increase the pressure on the government to pass the bill and will force them to accept concessions demanded by students. Regardless of the form in which the bill goes through, our refusal to participate has made a difference, and that is something to be proud of.

(Feature Image Credits: NUS.org.uk)

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