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SAUWS should withdraw its support for the National Student Survey
2 years ago
by Beth Douglas
The Students Association will withdraw its support of the National Student Survey (NSS), stop collaborating with University management in promoting it, and work with trade unions to promote a student boycott of the NSS at UWS.
Why you think it is important
For the next trimester UWS students are going to be asked repeatedly to fill in the National Student Survey.
Students who fill in the survey will receive a 'free' coffee but will be charged 25p if they don't have a cup or you can get some bottled water instead. While this is tempting? Below are reasons why UWS students shouldn't fill in this survey and why you should back this policy.
University management presents the NSS as a tool to listen and apply student feedback however this simply isn't true. The NSS was not created as a feedback tool or a tool of quality enhancement.
Ever since its implementation student activists have lobbied to change the NSS to treat students less like consumers, however changes to higher education by the tory government and executive university management have made the NSS less staff and student friendly since its creation.
NSS scores have been used in the past at UWS to raise tuition fees of rest of UK (RUK) students and non-EU students studying here. The UWS Principal has said on numerous occasions that raising the tuition fees of non-EU and RUK students will raise NSS satisfaction scores and our own league table results, we believe he is wrong.
From this we can see the NSS treats us more like customers than students which damages the quality of all of our learning (for both students who do and don't pay tuition fees). The NSS is used to ignore more reliable forms of feedback and disempowers staff and students.
As well as raising tuition fees the NSS is also used to legitimise the cutting our courses, shutting down whole departments and sacking UWS staff. UWS creates "transformative" committees each year who's remit is to cut as much staff and resources as possible rather than investing in already stretched staff and courses that are struggling.
Academic trade unions like UCU have promoted to boycott the NSS as well as student unions around the country. This make sense as university management uses the NSS results to stretch staff to breaking point even forcing them to take sick leave. Improving working conditions for UWS staff is key to improving learning conditions for students. Therefore when staff and staff resources get cut students lose out too.
Large amounts of money is spent on promoting the NSS survey. UWS believes that if more students fill in the NSS their scores and league table results will be higher. Past NSS scores show this isn't true. In fact this is money that would be better spent on staff and resources rather than advertising.
In short the NSS is a marketing tool not a feedback tool, NSS legitimises the cutting of courses, used to sack and stretch staff rather than investing in them, it worsens learning conditions and even has been used to raise tuition fees at UWS.
There's better forms of feedback like talking to student reps, sabbatical officers or SU staff and even engaging in other surveys where the research is properly used to improve our learning experience. Collaborating with staff to make UWS management accountable or taking matters into your own hands by carrying out your own research, creating your own campaign and direct actions will be much more influential than filling in the NSS survey.
Is there anything else you think we should know?
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