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The NUS Is Campaigning For Students To Boycott This Year’s National Student Survey

Students choosing not to fill in the National Student Survey (NSS) is hardly a new concept. It’s the annual survey every student is invited to complete which asks them to provide feedback on their experiences of university life, and, although voluntary, both the NSS and universities themselves go to great lengths to chase students and offer incentives to encourage them to respond.

This year, though, students are actively boycotting the survey following the launch of a new NUS campaign.

The campaign was started in response to the fact that, from this year onwards, the NSS results will make up part of the measures considered by the government’s new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) that will dictate, among other things, by how much an institution can increase its tuition fees.

This year’s NSS launched earlier this month, offering participants the chance to “bring about significant and positive change in higher education” but the NUS fears that, should students wish to provide positive feedback, they are indirectly enabling their university to raise its tuition fees.

Tuition fees for students starting in 2017 have already been increased by 2.8% due to inflation, and the NUS are concerned that a gold rating from the TEF could lead to further, uncapped increases for future students.

NUS officers and students alike have taken to social media to support the campaign.

However, not everyone is in agreement with the campaign. Andrew McRae, the University of Exeter’s Head of English, wrote on his blog about his opposition to the boycott, saying: “I believe that the boycott is based on wonky logic, and will only hurt those the NUS represents. Students, please, don’t boycott the NSS.”

McRae expresses his belief that a decision not to complete the survey and withhold your voice won’t make any difference.

He writes: “But probably the only people who will notice the difference will be those of us at department level who really, deeply care about the NSS because we profoundly value our students’ opinions. A boycott will hurt us, but the TEF will roll on regardless.

In fact this campaign feels to me like an insult to students who have waited for three years to have their say. I think those students are smarter than the NUS campaign.”

Students have until the end of April to complete the survey.

Will you be completing the NSS this year?

  • Yes, I still want to have my say.
  • No, I don't want my feedback to be used as an excuse to raise tuition fees.
  • Not sure yet.

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