UCLU tells students to boycott NSS to stop rise in tuition fees

This is for the first time ever

UCLU has officially asked students to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS) for the first year ever.

The NSS is a survey of student satisfaction for undergraduate finalists. Although the NSS was never meant to gauge teaching excellence or to influence tuition fees, the survey will be used as a metric within the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), designed to monitor and evaluate the teaching quality in universities.

The framework itself has been heavily criticized. In an open letter sent to the UCL’s provost, Michael Arthur, late last term, UCLU Labour Society called TEF’s metrics “arbitrary” and “not relevant to actually improving teaching”. UCL students also staged an anti-TEF protest last December.

In the past, UCLU supported the NSS but it has expressed concerns that data collected from the NSS would be used by universities to increase tuition fees.

Students campaigning against the initial rise in fees in 2000

Despite the widespread dissatisfaction with the government’s proposed reforms, attempts to change the reforms have been fruitless. UCLU maintains that the NSS boycott is the last chance for direct action.

Student activists have also started an official UCL Boycotts the NSS, which intends to support and organise the NSS boycott on the Bloomsbury campus.

A spokesman from the protest group said: “We have been particularly worried about the lack of awareness on campus about the NSS boycott and the HE reforms.

“We aim not to only support the union’s motion to boycott the NSS, but educate students about the government’s wider attacks on education. 2010 is happening again, but the difference is that this time no one seems to know.”

Although some students have raised concerns about the boycott, TEF and other Higher Education reforms have been overwhelmingly opposed by students and academics across the country. With support from the academic trade union University and College Union, the National Union of Students called for the boycott this summer in response to the reforms.

This is not the first time the NSS has been criticised by students. The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) said: “The NSS has been shown to systematically discriminate against black teachers”, “to bully staff” and hold SUs “at ransom, with a large block grant being dependent on high satisfaction scores”.

Member of NUS National Executive Committee and NCAFC National Committee, Ana Oppenheim said: “We need to fight for real democracy in our institutions…not a survey that pits students against staff and reduces our voice to a number.”

Information on the boycott can be found here.