YUSU has voted not to join NUS’s boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS), in this week’s referendum.
The NSS is an annual survey of final year undergraduate students at higher education facilities in England. The NSS is part of the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), introduced by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for universities, science, research & innovation. The TEF sorts universities into gold, silver and bronze, after the government said it would create new league tables based on teaching quality.
YUSU voted by a majority of 568 votes to 379, with 11 abstentions, not to join the NUS’s boycott of the NSS. The referendum was headed up by the university’s Policy and Review Group, who decided to hold it based on the question ‘Should YUSU campaign for students to boycott the National Student’s Survey?’
The referendum needed to have at least 5% of students of York to vote (known as Quorum), equating to a 922 turnout. The referendum reached 958 votes, and therefore reached quorum.
This vote is used as a measurement by the NSS to develop an annual plan on how to tackle student experiences at university. Alongside this, the information acquired through the vote is used to rank high education institutions in national league tables.
The ‘No’ side, who opposed the boycott, argued that the NSS is one of many primary tools used in acquiring student feedback, which allows the university to improve and make changes asked for by students, and has little impact on the TEF.
The ‘Yes’ side, who supported the boycott, argued that this vote does not reflect all students, allowing for a huge level of bias, as well as including many issues surrounding integrity of data, which could impact academic credibility of available programmes at the university. ‘Yes’ campaigners also argued that the TEF is a government run scheme for assessing universities which will have an influence over whether Russell Group universities can raise tuition fees in line with inflation.
‘No’ representative Jay Edevane commented: ‘I’m very happy with the result, because a boycott would have hampered the university in making improvements. With this years NSS data, we can move forward as an institution’.