More universities have joined a boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS) over concerns it could be linked to future rises in tuition.
Manchester University Students’ Union (MUSU) and Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) have both announced they will be boycotting the NSS. Durham Students’ Union (DSU), while not boycotting the NSS, have refused to actively promote the survey.
Last week CUSU joined Oxford University Students’ Union in boycotting the NSS, following a vote in CUSU Council. The CUSU stated: “many of the objections to participation in the NSS that stood last year still stand”, and said there was”no guarantee the temporary freeze on tuition fees would continue.”
MUSU has also asked students not to fill in the NSS, citing concerns the data could still be used to raise fees in the future. “Fees are frozen for now,” MUSU said in a statement, “but the TEF uses a 3-year average of students’ NSS data. So if you fill it in this year, it will be used in 2020 when fees could be unfrozen.”
In an [email sent out to Imperial students earlier this year]( “http://felixonline.co.uk/articles/2018-01-19-undergraduates-invited-to-take-part-in-this-year-s-national-student-survey/"), Professor Simone Buitendijk, Imperial’s Vice-Provost (Education), and Nick Burstow, Imperial College Union’s Deputy President (Education), asked final years to complete the survey. They said the results would “help the College see both where it is excelling, but also where it can improve”, and they “hoped to beat” the 2017 participation rate of 74%.
Last year Cambridge and Manchester were among the twelve universities that successfully led a boycott of the NSS, with a turnout of under 50% leading to invalidation of the data.
The boycott was driven by the link the NSS would have with the controversial Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which was previously supposed to be linked to rises in tuition fees. While Theresa May announced in October that tuition fees would be frozen for the upcoming year, a number of student groups continue to have concerns over the link between TEF and marketisation of higher education.
The NSS is sent out each year to final year undergraduates at higher education institutions in the UK. It is undertaken by Ipsos MORI.