A Boycott of the NSS (National Student Survey)?

Monday 08-08-2016 - 10:19

Hello students one and all. I am your new Vice President of Education, Samuel Chivers!

As you’ve undoubtedly seen from the title of this blog post, I’m writing to make you aware of Winchester Student Union’s stance on NUS’s recent call for a boycott of the National Student Survey.

Y’know? The one that third years get encouraged to fill out and is a pretty simple way of showing how satisfied you all are with the service that the SU and the Uni provide? Well, if you didn’t know then you do now. Remember those big posters talking about the University being 4th for student satisfaction? That number came from data gathered from the NSS so it’s a pretty big deal.

However, recently myself and your President Harry Sampson along with Vice President of Activities Jordan Rudge, received a consultation from the NUS asking whether we would like to assist with either boycotting or sabotaging the results of the survey. We strongly oppose this harmful course of action.

NUS’s reasons for the call to boycott, which can be found in full on their website, are that due to the recent Higher Education bill the Government will be requiring Universities to be involved in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The NSS would be used as part of this. Although the nature of the bill raises important questions such as how it could ever be possible to quantify teaching excellence, we are highly sceptical of how an NSS boycott would be advantageous at this stage. So the NUS have made their call and as a Student Union we are replying in the interests of you, the student body.

We as a Student Union will not be boycotting the NSS and would urge you all as third year students to join us in this way of thinking. Our reasons for this decision are here:

  • The HE bill is being passed and the TEF will be happening: To boycott the NSS may jeopardise the NSS which is, by and large, a very positive way of looking at student satisfaction across the institution. Therefore, if it is boycotted it could be abandoned altogether. This would not mean any great change, as the TEF relies on other areas as well as the NSS.
  • It could but a strain on our great relationship with the university: Having spoken to Student Unions across the country both myself and Harry have been re-assured once again that the positive working relationship we have with The University of Winchester is a relationship that cannot be understated. We as an exec team have the most wonderful opportunities to have regular meetings with both the Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Vice Chancellors, to discuss our plans and work together for the betterment of the student body. By boycotting the NSS, this could mean that they may not be as willing to listen to our needs and suggestions for improvements to the institution. We can achieve more by not starting an unnecessary fights, but by working together to achieve the best outcome for all.
  • We believe a boycott or sabotage will have the opposite affect: The TEF will rely on many different things, one of which is the NSS.  So say for arguemnts sake, the boycott is succesfull and in the NSS Winchester slides down the rankings from it’s true position. Who has won? We haven’t, the university certainly haven’t, NUS haven’t and, most importantly, the students haven’t. All due to a knee jerk reaction to the larger change across the HE sector, which strikes out to the institutions that support us as Student Unions. As Harry has put it rather nicely “Lots to lose and nothing worth gaining.”

So to conclude this post I’d like to say this. The NSS is not perfect. But it is such an easy way for both the University and us to understand the needs and wants of the student body that, to boycott or sabotage, would not be beneficial for any of us here at Winchester.

Thank you for your time reading this post and I look forward to seeing you all in September.


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