‘Students have found a weapon in their battle to stop the government raising tuition fees still further: at a conference in Brighton they have voted to sabotage two key surveys unless the government withdraws its planned reforms.
The National Union of Students will boycott both the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Destination of Leavers from higher education survey (DLHE), which provide statistics the government needs to carry out its plans.
The government intends to introduce a Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef) which will rank universities on a range of factors, including how well students rate them in the NSS. The DLHE reveals what students are doing six months after graduation, and is used to determine a university’s “employability” rating.
Universities that do well in the Tef are likely to be allowed to charge higher fees. If the government refuses to abandon this plan, the NUS says it will mobilise students to campaign for a boycott.
Anastazja Oppenheim, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said: “We know that if students, en masse, either refuse to fill in the surveys at all or sabotage it by giving artificially maximum or minimum scores, the results would become of little use and would wreck plans for the Tef. We hope it will act as a major disincentive for the government to go through with their agenda.”’ - Guardian
‘Animosity towards the NSS has been brewing among the student body for some time. For those in favour of a boycott, the NSS is the symbol of the marketisation of education and overshadows other forms of student representation.
Campaigns supporting a boycott say that surveys create a culture of fear and argue that money spent on surveys could be better spent on student representation systems that connect students and institutions. They also argue that the arrangements set out for the TEF make education, learning and support a product.
A report by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, published after the release of the government’s Green Paper, highlights concerns that institutions have against linking the TEF to fees. Universities say that “a financial incentive could heighten the likelihood of institutions seeking to manipulate or 'game' the TEF, rather than working meaningfully within it”; and that the TEF could “reward the high performing institutions but not provide the resources necessary for others to invest in improving teaching quality”.’ – Times Higher Education