Now is the time to combat the TEF, not boycott the NSS

Boycotting the NSS will do little against the TEF, while hurting our own university

The TEF will increase elitism in Universities; we need to stand up against the HE Bill. We do, but in ways that assure realistic success and progress, and, most importantly, in ways that don’t hurt our university and our future. Boycotting the National Student Survey has no chance of changing the Teaching Excellence Framework or by extension stopping rising tuition fees, and it will only severely hurt the worth of our degrees and the feedback our departments get from it.

I want to make something very clear: The ranked prices introduced by the TEF will contribute to pricing students like myself out of the best Universities, the metrics for measuring the TEF are flawed and, yes, Jo Johnson is a prat who clearly doesn’t understand the wants and needs of students.

But it is happening. The University of York has signed up to be assessed already and the bill has passed. Like it or not, this will be imposed on us, and therefore it’s on us to start running damage control. We clearly cannot rely on the current government to look after our best interests and so it is imperative that we do not lose the game that they are making us play. If we destroy York’s chance of getting the ranking that it deserves we will damage the value of our degrees.

Compared to the other metrics that comprise the TEF, York does very well in the NSS, with average student satisfaction at a fantastic 89%. But, amid calls for a boycott of the NSS, the chair of the TEF has announced that they will restrict the use of NSS scores if they need to.

If we boycott the NSS and allow them to reduce its importance in determining our score, we might sabotage our own ranking. Moreover, this new country-wide framework for university quality would then be brought in with even less input from students. Don’t let the government take away your voice in something that affects you so much.

Perhaps it is selfish to think so much just about our university, but I put a lot of work into my degree, I’ve poured a ridiculous amount of debt into being here and I care about this institution. Let places like Oxford and Cambridge, who have never used the NSS, make grand statements by voting to boycott, safe in the knowledge that it won’t affect them. But here and now, we need to look after ourselves.

A boycott will be dismissed by the TEF committee; to a large degree it already has been. So now is not the time to show apathy by not doing something, now is the time to start doing something.

I am angry at the government, and I’m dislike the TEF. But the call for a boycott doesn’t make things any better. If we all worked together, we might be able to start a productive movement, like an emailing campaign to our MP, but, as it is, I’m being forced to put time and effort into fighting this incredibly misguided boycott.

Let’s choose action, not inertia. Vote ‘no’ to the boycott, fill out the NSS and make real noise about the TEF.

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