Union Council vote against motion urging students to boycott NSS survey

Union Council voted against a motion allowing the SU to urge students to refuse filling in the 2019 National Student Survey (NSS).

Brought to council on 28 January by Lewis Martin, Mature Students Assembly, and seconded by Thai Braddick, Non-Portfolio Officer, the motion would have mandated the SU to encourage and inform students’ about reasons to boycott this year’s survey and beyond.

The motion criticised the survey for contributing to the marketisation of education, as the NSS results are involved in informing the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The annual NSS asks final year students to provide feedback on their courses to gauge the quality of their student experience.

The University of Manchester, Bristol, Oxford, and Cambridge have already successfully boycotted the survey.

Professor Neil Ward, PVC-Academic at UEA, said: ‘The National Student Survey is probably the single most useful mechanism in helping the University improve its provision and enhance the quality of the student experience. The results and feedback are extensively used by Schools of Study and the University to identify priorities for action and investment.’

He attributed recent initiatives such as ‘significantly improved turnaround times for coursework, greater investment in the Library and using a new system which gives students access to dynamic, efficient and up-to-date reading lists’ to the information gained from the NSS.

Jenna Chapman, SU Undergraduate Education Officer, who spoke against the motion said: ‘The NSS isn’t perfect, and we recognise that it gets misrepresented in both league tables and the TEF which contribute to the marketisation of higher education which the SU is firmly against. Council chose however not to boycott the NSS because of the benefits it has in making real change and improvements at UEA.’

‘As an SU, we use the NSS data to lobby for improvements both on a school and university wide level. For example, the library didn’t used to be a 24/7 service but now is because of the NSS, students can now see their marked exam papers because we used the NSS data.’

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May 2022
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