The union is campaigning for students not to fill in the National Student Survey

The survey is being used to increase university fees

The Tab Manchester spoke to Naa Acquah, General Secretary of the University of Manchester Students’ Union, about the TEF and the National Students Survey. She explains why filling in the survey could lead to increases in tuition fees:

It’s a strange thing, the Students’ Union asking you not to fill in a survey about student satisfaction, right? But we wouldn’t have campaigned, lobbied for a year and made a music video if we didn’t think this was an important matter for students.

You may not have known about it with Brexit and Trump taking centre stage but the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework has been called by many as a ‘Trojan horse’ to raise tuition fees. I don’t know a single person who was against measuring excellent teaching, but what we have been served with is a disgrace. A framework that doesn’t even measure teaching quality and a ‘pilot’ that raises tuition fees year on year. I go to meetings with senior people at the University and academics and everyone thinks it is rubbish but it’s all about the money.

We lobbied the University not to opt in to the TEF but money is the modus operandi. They feel they need a higher tuition fee and the let’s be honest, so does every other university. Tuition fees will rise with inflation, next year it’s £9,250 but in a few years, it will be £10,000. I know for a fact if the TEF wasn’t linked to raising tuition fees barely any universities would opt in.

The National Student Survey is being used as one of the metrics for the TEF and this is where our voice comes in. The NSS is sent to final years and is widely used in league tables and to scrutinise universities around the country. However, it was NEVER meant to measure teaching quality and until now has had no link to tuition fees. What we are asking is that final years refuse to fill it in this year. The TEF needs this information to make this system work so if we don’t fill in the NSS, there is no data for the TEF and the whole framework can be undermined.

We have gone round the loops with the TEF. I personally have been talking about it since 2015, we lobbied, we wrote research papers, spoke to MPs, written to government ministers and lobbied the University. This is now our only viable option to make our voices heard that we are not happy with these frameworks and dangerous education reforms. In my past 18 months as Gen Sec we have seen Maintenance Grants cut, NHS bursaries cut and now the TEF.

To make sure we don’t lose out on feedback in important issues, we have created the Manchester Student Survey to still get your feedback –  but crucially, this feedback won’t be used to put up fees.

For more information, go to the union website.

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