Sussex Students’ Union spends £800 on ‘Anti-TEF’ fairground

Gold, silver, and bronze medals are given to students which give them a disadvantage at each game

The Sussex Students’ Union has spent £800 on a ‘unfair-ground’ in Library Square to protest and raise awareness of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The fairground offers coconut shys, a strongman game, splat the rat and many other games with free candyfloss and popcorn being handed out. The twist however, is that students will be given gold, silver, or bronze medals on arrival which puts them at a disadvantage at each of the games.

The idea is that this represents the ‘unfairness’ of the TEF categorising universities into certain bands and adapting fees accordingly. Helpers are also on site to inform students about the TEF.

Whilst promoted on the Union’s social media, turnout has been relatively poor.

Some students expressed their concerns on the nature of the Union’s spending. One third year philosophy student commented: “The only thing unfair about this ground is the way in which the Union spends its budget.”

It was also revealed that the Sussex Students’ Union spent over £700 on Varsity banners that could not be used the following years.

In the Spring term of 2016, 964 students voted in the SU’s referendum whether the Union should boycott the National Student Survey (NSS), a survey that has been claimed to ‘justify’ the rise of tuition fees proposed by TEF. Out of those 964 students, 536 (63 per cent) voted in favour of boycotting the NSS.

The total number of students in Sussex is approximately around 17,000.

Since the referendum, the university has been openly campaigning for students to not fill out the survey. Elected officers have been seen on social media showing their support for their ‘boycott the NSS’ campaign. Large banners have been posted all around campus to urge students not to fill in the survey. Emails have been sent to all students to urge them not to fill in the NSS.

The campaign has become so synonymous with life at Sussex that it even has its own page on the Union website.

A spokesperson for the Union commented: “The unfair-ground is part of our NSS Boycott campaign. Last term, students voted in favour of the Union campaigning for students to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS) to stop universities raising tuition fees. This boycott is part of a national student campaign against the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which will result in education becoming more expensive and exclusive.

“We want to show how unfair the TEF will make higher education with universities rated gold, silver and bronze based on measures including the NSS and charging varying tuition fees based on the bronze, silver and gold rankings.

“The unfair-ground is one way of getting students involved and interested in the campaign. It gives people with gold access more chances and a better experience and penalises those with silver or bronze, just as we believe the TEF will with students. It’s an unfair-ground because we think the TEF is unfair.

“We’ve done lots of things as part of the NSS boycott campaign, and this is a more light-hearted way to explain why the TEF is so badly conceived and remind students to boycott.

“The unfair-ground games costs £800 and was funded from the campaigns budget, approved by all full-time officers.”

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University of Sussex