A representative of the ‘Yes to NSS Boycott’ campaign has reportedly recanted his support, and switched sides in the middle of the YUSU NSS Referendum debate.
The two sides had discussed the Teaching Excellence Framework, league tables and the importance of departmental feedback, before Yes campaigner Joshua Stubbs took control of the microphone, stated that “I have changed my mind over the last 30 minutes”, congratulated his opponents and left the stage.
The debate, which took place on Monday evening, discussed the upcoming referendum on whether York should take part in the NUS-driven boycott of the National Student Survey: a nationwide student feedback service that students are encouraged to take part in every year.
The Yes side, who support the boycott, argue that the NSS is being used to raise tuition fees. The results of the survey are one of a set of criteria for the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), a government-run scheme for assessing universities which will influence whether Russell Group universities are allowed to raise tuition fees in line with inflation.
The No side, who oppose the boycott, argue that the NSS has little impact on the TEF and is crucial for maintaining York’s ranking and prestige, while a boycott would go largely unnoticed by TEF co-ordinators. University registrar David Duncan has previously stated that he believes the NSS to be an important source of feedback for University departments.
The Yes campaign had been represented by Sophie Flinders, YUSU BAME Officer, and Stubbs, until he was replaced by Lucas North after his remarkable change of heart, while the No Campaign was represented by Will Gibbs, Jay Evedane and Mathieu Lohr.
No campaigner Jack Worrall, who was in the audience, said: “This is the most fantastical event I’ve seen in student politics, the fact that the NO to Boycott side managed to win over the only department Rep during a debate he was participating in shows the overwhelming case not to boycott the NSS”
Yes representative Sophie Flinders commented: “It was a very good-natured debate and it is unfortunate that Joshua had a change of heart, but there were three people immediately ready to take his place on stage.”