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Lincoln SU joins NUS boycott of NSS
National Student Survey (NSS) boycotted

posted 10th April 2017 at 3:00pm

Following a recent vote and an All Student Members meeting, the Students’ Union has now changed its position on the NSS and is now boycotting the NSS and would encourage our members to do the same.

In Lincoln, the NSS has always been used effectively to improve satisfaction and has been taken very seriously by the University senior management to improve not just satisfaction but the experience students receive in Lincoln.  However, the government intend to use this survey to link to fees, which our students find unacceptable.  We intend to work in partnership with the University to ensure that the student voice is heard through other means and we are committed, as are the University, to ensuring the excellent improvements that NSS has previously brought are continued and others identified.

The argument for boycotting the NSS is that it will be used as part of a set of metrics to allow universities and colleges to raise their fees based on their awards in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The TEF is a rating system sorting universities into Gold, Silver and Bronze institutions based on how they score in the following key set of metrics:

  • The scores the university gets in the NSS (The NSS is a survey of final year undergraduate students used to measure course satisfaction. It was never intended to measure teaching excellence, or for it to be linked to funding and fees. It is felt that the government is manipulating student feedback to create a false market and justify fee rises
  • The number of students who drop out of their courses
  • What students end up doing once they graduate and how much they earn, i.e. graduate employment data

Every institution who enters the TEF and receives a ‘medal’ will be able to raise fees up to a different level based on what they get. The government is creating a forced market of institutions charging different prices for degrees. This will increase inequality both in terms of students entering HE and their graduate prospects.

The government has not listened to students and students’ unions who have consistently argued and lobbied against the flawed plans. We are now joining the National campaign led by NUS who are encouraging students not to fill in the NSS.  The campaign believes that the TEF will not only lead to increased fees, it could also damage the reputation of your university and in future devalue your degree. This is because it uses flawed arbitrary data that does not measure teaching excellence.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding with the University the Students’ Union was committed to supporting the NSS and was required to give six months’ notice if we wished to stop.  Notice has now been given to Vice Chancellor of the Students’ Union’s intention to cease supporting the NSS, given the timely nature of the Higher Education Bill being debated in the House of Lords, the Vice Chancellor has kindly agreed to, on this occasion only, waiver the six months’ notice.  This means the boycott will commence immediately.   The Students’ Union will continue to work in partnership with the University on all other issues that affect students and it is hoped that our strong and mutual partnership will not be affected by this boycott.  This partnership approach is how we know you wish us to work with the University of Lincoln as you have repeatedly told us in our annual membership surveys.

The NSS is open until 30 April 2017, the Students’ Union no longer encourages students to participate and the Students’ Union will no longer promote the survey to students. If students wish to participate they can of course complete the survey online at: http://www.thestudentsurvey.com

If you have already completed NSS and wish to retract your data; you are entitled to do so. E-mail thestudentssurvey@ipsos.com by the 30 April requesting your record to be deleted.

As always if you have an issue with your course which you would like to raise please speak to your course representative, you can find their contact details at: www.lincolnsu.com/representing-you/course-reps